Tuesday, December 16, 2008

When 'Stupidity' Becomes Costly

Have you ever felt really stupid?  Has being "stupid" ever cost you?  I've had more than my share of those moments.  Often it's not actual stupidity, but the feeling of stupidity that really seems costly.  Like today for example.

I had the day off today.  It wasn't vacation—it was a floating holiday.  I've never known exactly what that means, because I didn't really celebrate much of anything today (except that I had the day off), and it didn't seem like I was floating at all.  In fact, gravity kept me down all day.  But I digress.  I had the day off, so it seemed like the perfect day to finally have an electrician come to the house and figure out what was wrong with our main kitchen light.

When our light first went out, I checked all the fuses.  Nothing.  Then I bought new lamps and changed them.  Nothing.  Then I bought a voltage meter and checked the electric current going through certain wires.  Nothing.  Or at least I thought nothing.

Admittedly, it had been out for a little while.  However, with three other secondary lights on, it was quite luminous.  But the thought of paying an electrician for something I thought I should be able to figure out was discouraging.  Amy was, rightly so, "encouraging" me to get it fixed.  Yesterday, the day finally arrived to schedule an appointment for today.  The professional came this morning.

Robert is a great guy.  Super nice, and he knows what he's doing.  Unlike me apparently.  In short order he checked the same basic electric current issues in the same basic ways I did using the same basic voltage meter.  But he also found what he thought was the problem.  He told me he could go to Lowe's to buy a ballast that seemed to be the issue.  No extra charge for the service call except the ballast cost itself.  I said sure.

He came back, and was working away.  We had a nice chat.  We talked about our kids.  I invited him to my church and found out that he is a deacon at his.  Like I said, super guy.

Okay, all done—check the switch.  Presto...the light is working again.  The ballast cost: $30.  The company's standard service call: more than I care to admit.  Worth it, due to my stupidity, but still—I'm just sayin'.  I then tipped Robert beyond the service charge, because of his good service.

If I had known what I was doing, beyond the lamps and voltage meter, I could have simply spent $30, and that would have done it.  Instead, I feel really stupid for not possessing some basic knowledge of electricity, which could have saved me my arm and my leg.  I still think I should have been able to figure it out.

So, help me out.  Have you ever felt stupid?  So stupid that it cost you?  I can think of multiple car repair items, home repairs, finding coupons or sales immediately after purchasing something...you name it, I've paid for it.  I'm hoping at least one person will comment with a story—so that I can at least feel better. :)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Update #3 on Dad

A few weeks ago, I had mentioned in this space that my dad would be having a significant procedure done, so I wanted to follow up.

He has had a ~90% blockage in his carotid artery, and the doctor decided that he had recovered enough from a skin cancer removal to go ahead with this procedure.  There had been potential concerns with having an open or near-open wound.  However, they went forward with the procedure, placing a stent in his carotid artery, which should certainly help with his circulatory problems.  Everything seems to have been successful in this regard.

While they were conducting the procedure, they checked an artery near his brain that has had another significant blockage.  With its proximity to the brain, the affected area is in too delicate a location to be cleaned or to place a stent, so it has been an ongoing point of concern.  The doctor reported that there does not seem to be any increase in that blockage, so this news is as good as it can be under the circumstances.  However, they also found yet another 90% blockage in his right leg.  The hope is that in a few more weeks, they can either clean out or place a stent in the leg artery as well.

Thank you for praying!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Down-ballot Voting: I'll Just Do It Myself

Why I Voted for Me for Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor

In trying to fulfill my civic duty in voting, which by the way is at the same time a right, privilege, and responsibility, I wanted to do it with honest reflection and sincerity.  That means having to look up information about the races on the ballot for which no one has heard anything.  Pundits call these races "down-ballot" contests.  In other words, you have to keep looking further down the ballot to find them.

I'm not talking about the larger, more obvious races.  I'm talking about the judges and commissioners about whom we never really receive much information.  So the night before the elections, I took it upon myself to look up as much info as I could find on these races.

Online, I found my voter registration info at the State Board of Elections website, complete with a link to my sample ballot.  I had looked up the ballot the prior week, and all of this info was quite easy to obtain.  I began searching for info on the various candidates.  Partisan offices usually have ample information.  Then it was time to find pertinent info on state supreme court justices and state court of appeals judges.  These candidates, although not easy to find, are at least accessible after some digging.  Finally it was time to check up on district court judges.  Not so much helpful info here.

Just when I thought I could finally go to bed, at the bottom of the ballot I noticed a race for an office which I'm sure I have heard about, but apparently never gave much attention.  It was the race for Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor.

Finding info here was laborious.  And might I add that it was difficult.  It was also hard.  Oh, you can find general information about the work involved in soil and water conservation from state and local government websites, and I found one story on the local newspaper site—a story about the difficulty of finding information regarding this race.  But info on the candidates themselves...nothing.  Nada.

Earlier this morning, I joked with my wife that I might submit a write-in vote for myself for Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor.  Later, I rethought my decision, since originally I was going to vote for me as a joke.  I thought to do so might just trivialize the process (do you think?).

However, upon further reflection, I also came to the same conclusion I have for years: that I cannot vote for a candidate about whom I know nothing.  Talk about trivializing the process...try voting for someone you know nothing about, into an office you know nothing about.  Trivialization of the process, no?

So I made the decision then and there.  In voting for downballot offices, maybe I should just step up and serve in that role myself.  I will run for Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor.  And then I voted for me as a write-in candidate.

If you live in my area and supported me in this campaign, I promise to do my best not to let you down.  I will conserve not just the water, but the soil also.  I have the audacity of hope for soil and water, and I will be a maverick.

We need a change.  The time for change is now.  It's time to conserve both soil and water, and to supervise it in various districts.

I'm Mike Williams, and I approved this post.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Update on Dad #2

Many thanks again to those who have prayed for or asked about my dad.  I just found out they are on their way home from the hospital.  There is no clear diagnosis for why this has happened twice.  So far, his heart checks out okay, and there is no evidence of any type of stroke, but it is certain that he is having ongoing circulatory issues.  They may be making some changes with blood pressure medications and using some surgical stockings to keep adequate pressure in his legs, and he is still on track for an arterial stent placement in a few weeks.

I appreciate you and will keep you posted.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Update on My Dad

For those of you who had seen the Twitter or Facebook status regarding my dad, I wanted to give a further update.  Thanks so much for your prayers.

As I mentioned in that update, my dad was taken via ambulance to the hospital today (in Tennessee).  He had passed out, and after he woke up, his blood pressure was checked and was extremely low.  This was the second time in three weeks, so they again went to the hospital.

The ER doctors wanted him to stay overnight (again) for observation and further testing.  For now he is stable and has been moved into a regular room.

My mom and brother are very tired as well from the long day in the ER with him, so prayer for everyone would be much appreciated.  I will give further updates when I can.

Again, thank you.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Schedule for the Presidential Debates

Although news sites and political blogs are frequently mentioning the upcoming presidential and vice presidential debates, the schedule for them, for whatever reason, has not been prominent.  So as a public service to you, my fellow Americans, here are the details you need to know.

First presidential debate
Friday, September 26, 9pm EDT
The University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi
Jim Lehrer
Executive Editor and Anchor, The NewsHour, PBS

Vice presidential debate
Thursday, October 2, 9pm EDT
Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri
Gwen Ifill
Senior Correspondent, The NewsHour, and Moderator and Managing Editor, Washington Week, PBS

Second presidential debate (town meeting)
Tuesday, October 7, 9pm EDT
Belmont University, Nashville, Tennessee
Tom Brokaw
Special Correspondent, NBC News

Third presidential debate
Wednesday, October 15, 9pm EDT
Hofstra University, Hempstead, New York
Bob Schieffer
CBS News Chief Washington Correspondent, and Host, Face the Nation

Watch and vote.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Gospel

How can we know God? By trusting in Him through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Do you believe the gospel of Jesus? What is the core of the Good News? Although the effects of the gospel are profound, the basic message is simple.

Ruler
God, the holy, loving, joyful Creator, is the sovereign One over all people and things, and He deserves the worship, reverence and obedience of His creation.

Our Lord and God, You are worthy to receive glory and honor and power, because You have created all things, and because of Your will they exist and were created. (Revelation 4.11)

For His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what He has made. As a result, people are without excuse. (Romans 1.20)

Rebels
We, the creation, have chosen our own path in life, and walked away from our holy Creator. As a result we deserve our due penalty—death and separation from the loving and joyful God.

For God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth, since what can be known about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them. (Romans 1.18-19)

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6.23)

Redemption
Jesus the Christ (the Messiah), who is fully God, took on a human body, lived a perfect life, died in our place (thus taking our death penalty), and rose from the dead. As a result, the ability to know our Creator and live in His joy was restored and made available in Christ.

For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring you to God, after being put to death in the fleshly realm but made alive in the spiritual realm. (1 Peter 3.18)

He [God the Father] made the One who did not know sin [God the Son—Jesus] to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5.21)

Renewal
The available redemption cannot be earned, but must be applied to us individually as the Holy Spirit pulls us, and we respond to His grace in repentance and faith—accepting the gracious gift of life in Christ, and growing in Christlike character. This involves immediate soul renewal, and later at the return of Christ, it will involve the physical renewal of our bodies and all of creation.

And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, then He who raised Christ from the dead will also bring your mortal bodies to life through His Spirit who lives in you. (Romans 8.11)

But based on His promise, we wait for the new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness will dwell. (2 Peter 3.13)

My sincere prayer is that you would be able to experience God’s joy and delight in Him through the gospel of Jesus Christ. He offers Himself to you. Will you trust in Him, and accept His gracious gift?

If you are just beginning your life with God in Christ, I encourage you to connect with a local church community of Christ followers.  In the meantime, for more information, click here.

*All Scripture references are from the HCSB.

[This post was updated September 20, 2011.]

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Implications of the Gospel

Apparently there are quite a few folks, even in the evangelical world, who cannot agree on a basic understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  So let's take a look at the debate concerning the gospel.

In January of this year, an article by Tim Keel, pastor of Jacob's Well in Kansas City, Missouri, was published in Leadership Journal (a publication of Christianity Today) that was titled, "An Efficient Gospel?".  He argues that modernism has "reduced" the gospel into a set of propositions, and that our understanding of the gospel is too small.  Keel believes that many evangelicals see Jesus only as Redeemer and tend to downplay or "miss" that He is Creator as well.  He contends for a more Kingdom-minded approach to the gospel.  Although apparently well-intentioned, it seems that Keel is misguided in trying to expand the meaning of the gospel.

The Spring 2008 issue of Leadership Journal brought an article by Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, New York City, titled "The Gospel in All Its Forms."  Keller argues that there is only one gospel, but that it can be communicated in various forms.  While I generally agree with Keller's premise and conclusions (and completely agree that there is only one gospel), I would have encouraged a different word than "forms."  To me, as if my opinion meant anything, those are not different forms of the gospel he refers to in the article.  This may be a mere semantic difference, but to me it is an important one.  To say there are different forms of the gospel in Scripture could sound confusing to a nonbeliever (and perhaps to some believers).  The idea of four primary gospel components, such as God-sin-Christ-response, or God-man-Christ-faith, or creation-fall-redemption-restoration, comprise the same form of the gospel.  They are simply different angles from which to view the one form of the one gospel message.  That said, I commend his article.

In April, Mark Dever, pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, delivered a message at the Together for the Gospel conference in Louisville, Kentucky, titled, "Improving the Gospel."  Dever, in part, responds to Keel, and is correct in confronting those who want to expand on what they consider a "reduction" of the gospel.  While few conservative evangelicals will disagree with the tenets of his message, many would probably find it difficult to take things as far as Dever does (like, for example, his illustration of his own unwillingness to offer advice on how a biblical worldview could inform a governmental official's question, based on the belief that it's not his job as a preacher of the gospel).  Mark is a friend (okay maybe only on Facebook, but I have spent a little time with him), and I think I know his heart.  But let's just say that Mark likes to stir the pot every now and then—and he would agree (he says of this conference message that he was "deliberately provocative and deliberately slightly overstated").  Maybe we need some issue-raising pot stirring every now and then.

Here you can see Ed Stetzer interviewing Mark Dever, and at one point they specifically discuss Dever's message referenced above.  Part 1 is certainly interesting, but Part 2 which is embedded here speaks to the discussion at hand, from about 3 minutes, 40 seconds through about 8:20.

Others have stepped into the fray as well, and it is a worthy discussion.  The truth of the gospel is at stake and it is worth fighting for.  But it begins with a question that Tim Keel said a camp director asked years ago: "If someone were to ask you what the gospel is, what would you say?"

In answering that question, many today are including the implications of the gospel—like caring for the poor and hungry—in their answer.  While it is absolutely true that we should right the wrongs in society and think more Kingdom minded, we must remember that personal accountability before God for one's sins ultimately comes down to that person's repentance and faith in response to Christ's death and resurrection.  Caring about societal problems is vastly important, but that care should flow from a person's (and collectively the community of faith's) response to the gospel.  It is the result of living in the gospel, having believed it.

So brothers and sisters, go live the gospel!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Caring About Those Who Care About the Environment

Even if Al Gore is wrong, do we who are followers of Christ really want to be seen as antagonistic and anti-environment?

That type of question is one that has been consistently passing through my mind recently.  I know of many Christians who are actively fighting or mocking any "green" movement, and my question is: Why?  Usually the answer will be political or economic.  I propose that the question we should ask ourselves is: How has indifference, or even antagonism, toward environmental issues furthered the cause of Christ?

Put it another way.  Suppose for a moment that all the scientific reports and theories about global warming and eventual catastrophic calamities are incorrect.  As far as how we have conducted ourselves in the debate, how well have we as the God-fearing community in our culture represented the God we believe is the Creator of the environment?  Let me push it one step further.  Even if it is eventually definitively determined that there has been no human-induced large-scale detriment to the environment, what good is it if Christians are viewed to have won the battle concerning the environment, yet lost any positive influence on the larger culture in the process?

As usual, we are known more for what we are against than what we are for.

Let me be clear: We are for the glory of God in Christ, and as a result, the sharing of the gospel of Jesus is our privilege and task—it is our mission.  I am not suggesting we stop or pause our mission to take up another banner, nor even to add green issues to our mission.  I am also not suggesting we expand our definition of the gospel to include societal issues.  What I am suggesting is that we take an honest look at whether many Christians' indifference or antagonism toward green issues (and toward those who are proponents of green issues) is helping or hurting our own mission.  Is it possible that we have actually damaged the reputation of the Creator by claiming to speak for Him on these issues?

Although we should care for this planet because it is God's creation, we should care all the more about those who may not know the Creator.

My own denomination has been slow to clarify this.  So far the convention has produced two specific resolutions at consecutive annual meetings that were vague at best, and at their worst have served to reinforce others' negative perceptions of us.  However, recently I came across a document that I find encouraging.  An independent coalition among the convention has agreed on a declaration as part of the Southern Baptist Environment and Climate Initiative.  Many leaders whom I respect have signed the declaration.  The document says that "our current denominational engagement with these issues has often been too timid, failing to produce a unified moral voice."  In addition, the authors of the declaration state essentially what I am asserting here.  They say that the way in which we have responded to these issues (and I would add, responded to the proponents of these issues) "may be seen by the world as uncaring, reckless and ill-informed.  We can do better."

I have no idea what the future holds for this initiative, nor for the specifics they have purposely yet to produce, but I am thankful and hopeful because some of my own have recognized that merely arguing or retreating on these issues is not helpful to the cause of Christ.  Props to Jonathan Merritt for doing something.  (Note the media coverage in Time Magazine and on ABC World News.)

So where does that leave us?  What I am asking for is that we Christians become engaged in the process in a positive, God-honoring way.  Again, we should care about the creation since we boast in the Creator, and we should care about those who care about the environment.  Consider this a plea for balance.  Clearly there are extreme elements of the environmental movement(s) with which we cannot align ourselves.  (One example would be those who advocate population controls in the form of abortion and euthanasia.)  But we also don't have to blindly fall to the opposite end of the spectrum by ignoring potential problems and vilifying advocates of green issues.

I am sure there will be much more to say about this topic in the coming months and years.  This post is by no means thorough.  But it was time for me to begin rethinking what it means to be a Christ follower who cares about God's creation, and more than that, cares about those who care about the environment.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Precious Practice of Baptism

Since yesterday evening I've been pondering anew the precious practice of baptism.  I had the privilege and joy of sharing in the baptism of several folks at Falls Lake.  Along with three other pastors, we baptized 31 fellow believers.  Among those whom I was personally able to baptize were four young ladies from my LIFE class community.  As I watched them and our church family there in support of them, I couldn't help but think about how precious is this picture of redemption.

Without going into a full-length discussion of baptism, it suffices to say that as Baptists we immerse professing believers, who are old enough to place their trust in Christ, as an outward demonstration of an inward change.  This ordinance pictures the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, with whom we identify through faith.

I wanted to share with you the precious joy in our community of faith as several Christ followers gathered to be baptized in His name.  It was such a sweet day.  Just take a look.  Amy took some great pics for us from the shoreline.

IMG_0280 (2)  IMG_0282 (2)

IMG_0284 (2)  IMG_0289 (2)

IMG_0299

Rachel, Rachel, me, Jaye, Laura

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Monday, June 30, 2008

A Lifetime of Devotion

Part 2 (Part 1 is below)

In my last post, I wrote of the importance of marriage, and suggested from the Scriptures some of the various facets of God’s purpose and design for marriage.  Perhaps the single most specific chapter in the Bible that discusses singleness, marriage, divorce and remarriage, all in one place, is 1 Corinthians, chapter 7.  For the purposes of this post, I have chosen not to attempt to explain the entire chapter as I tried to do in my LIFE class.  Here in this brief version I merely want to touch on the aspects of this chapter that seem to me to be overlooked most often.

Paul the apostle begins that section of the letter by answering questions the Corinthian believers had asked of him.  There was good reason for them to ask questions regarding marriage:

  • Various false teachings had probably influenced the believers at Corinth to question guidelines for Christian marriage and sexual relationships. Some pre-Gnostic teaching had argued that all physical matter was bad, and therefore that all sexual activity—even within marriage—was wrong. (See 1 Timothy 4.1-5)
  • Apparently several types of legally-recognized marriages (under Roman authority) existed at the time, including tent companionships for slaves, common law marriage, the sale of one's daughter to a prospective husband, and a nobility class type of marriage.
  • Some people had become followers of Jesus and perhaps wondered what this new relationship meant with regard to their marriages.

Paul’s intent was to refocus the struggling believers with a radical concept for first century Greek-Roman culture: commitment, in lasting devotion, that ultimately reflects the glory of God.  God’s word speaks frankly to us about sexual relationships and about God’s plan with regard to singleness, marriage, divorce and remarriage.

As seen in 1 Corinthians, chapter 7, what God desires from us is a lifetime of devotion.

1.  A lifetime of marriage reflects a calling from God (vv. 17-24).

To understand what Paul is talking about in this section, we have to understand his idea of a calling.  The word "calling" is often misused today, even if well intentioned.  When Paul uses the term, he often speaks of a holistic approach—one that encompasses every area of our lives.  So when Paul talks about his calling, he seems to imply his salvation, allegiance to God, and even specific ministry assignments which God has given him.  Notice how he uses the term calling in the following sentences.

He saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our own works but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given to us in Christ Jesus before the world began.  Now, however, it has been revealed through the coming of our Savior Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and through the gospel has brought life and release from death into full view.  For the sake of this gospel I was appointed to be a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.
2 Timothy 1.9-11 (ISV)

So, when Paul talks about a calling in 1 Corinthians 7.17-24, we have to realize he probably means more than salvation alone, or even a vocation or career alone.  In fact, it appears that he is talking about the whole person—all that God called you to be.

In this regard, it is a little bit easier to understand why he uses the illustrations of circumcision and slavery.  Certainly, without having an understanding of the cultural context, these ideas might be confusing.  But first century readers understood what Paul was talking about.  He was speaking with reference to an individual's particular current status in life.  He does not take the time to explain to non-Jews the perhaps confusing nature of circumcision, nor does he launch into an excursus on the social ills of the practice of slavery (although he makes sure to note that if a slave has the opportunity to be freed, he should happily take it!).  He simply says for the point of this discussion, "as the Lord has assigned to each one, as God has called each, in this manner let him walk."

Paul is encouraging them not to be obsessed with changing their status.  Instead, the point is, now that God has called you, live out your calling wherever you are in life.  Twice he says (7.20, 7.24), each one should "remain in that calling in which he was called."  And the immediate preceding context is that of staying married even in tough circumstances.  God's goal for us is not that we would be absorbed in trying to change our status or condition or calling, but instead that we would grow with Him in whatever place we find ourselves.

So unless you are called to singleness, marriage is an aspect of our calling from God, and He desires that we would demonstrate to others—through the lifetime of devotion in marriage—our lifetime of devotion to Him.  A lifetime of marriage reflects a calling from God.

2. A lifetime of singleness reflects a commitment to God (vv. 1-9; 25-40).

Paul has much to say about singleness in 1 Corinthians 7.  He first speaks of singleness at the beginning of the chapter in terms of abstaining from sex.  He says that abstaining from sex is good, but not so simple (vv. 1-2).  It is certainly an honorable thing if you never marry and thus never have a sexual relationship with anyone; however it is not easy at all for human beings to keep their passions in check (see v. 9).  He then says that abstaining from sex is a gift, but only for singles (vv. 3-9).  Abstaining in singleness is so honorable that Paul even considers it a gift from God for those who possess it (including himself); however, for those who are married, sex within marriage is God’s design, and abstaining within marriage should be limited to reasons dealing with spiritual growth.

I believe that a part of what Paul is doing in this chapter is to raise the perceptions of the value of singleness—if that is in fact one's gift and calling.  Later in the chapter, Paul outlines several arguments for staying single:

  • Problems in the world (vv. 25-27)
  • Difficulties of married life (v. 28)
  • The passing nature of this life (vv. 29-31)
  • Preoccupations in marriage (vv. 32-35)
  • Problems with parental consent (vv. 36-38)
  • The binding covenant of marriage (vv. 39-40)

So his point is not to minimize marriage, nor to minimize singleness.  Instead, he elevates both, and encourages his readers to pursue whatever gift and calling God has given individually to each one.  For most people, it seems, marriage is their calling.  However, if one's gift happens to be singleness, Paul argues that he or she is able to be undistracted in devotion to the Lord.  A lifetime of singleness reflects a commitment to God.

3. A lifetime of faithfulness reflects the compassion of God (vv. 8-16).

It is unfortunate that so many Christians miss the power of what Paul describes here.  He encourages those who are married to stay married, and even specifically says that a believer who is married to a nonbeliever should remain married, because of the positive influence the believer may have on his or her spouse.

Paul could have been writing to a variety of situations that existed then and now.  Perhaps there were some situations where believers had married nonbelievers.  In other cases, perhaps two nonbelievers were married, and then one of the two came to faith in Christ.  And there may have been still other situations where two believers married, and but later one of the two decided to abandon the faith.

From the way Paul answers their questions, it seems they were asking about reasons they thought might warrant their leaving their spouses.  For example, in light of present difficulties (7.26), perhaps they wondered if they should no longer consider themselves married—except with respect to being "married to Christ."  But Paul says they should consider their fidelity to their spouses in the highest regard.  As long as the nonbeliever desires to remain married, he says, then the believing spouse should not pursue divorce, because he or she might be able to point the nonbelieving spouse to God.  The bond of marriage is extremely important, and Paul is careful to remind his readers about the significance of faithfulness in that bond.  In the letter to the Romans, look how he uses marriage to illustrate the principle of being "bound."

Don't you realize, brothers—for I am speaking to people who know the Law—that the Law can press its claims over a person only as long as he is alive?  For a married woman is bound by the Law to her husband while he is living, but if her husband dies, she is released from the Law concerning her husband.  So while her husband is living, she will be called an adulterer if she lives with another man.  But if her husband dies, she is free from this Law, so that she is not an adulterer if she marries another man.
Romans 7.1-3 (ISV)

Faithfulness to one's nonbelieving spouse can serve as a huge—and perhaps  primary—influence on that spouse to help keep them from further sin, and to help point them to the grace and compassion of the Savior.  A lifetime of faithfulness reflects the compassion of God.

Ultimately, marriage was instituted and designed to show us, as we mentioned in the previous post, God's loving, permanent relationship with His chosen ones—those who would place their faith and trust in Him.  To put it another way, marriage shows us the gospel.  Notice this wonderful principle in the letter to the Ephesians:

…For we are parts of his body—of his flesh and of his bones.  “That’s why a man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”  This is a great secret, but I am talking about Christ and the church.  But each individual man among you must love his wife as he loves himself, and a wife must respect her husband.
Ephesians 5.30-33 (ISV)

Although it's never easy, a lifetime of devotion and faithfulness, whether in marriage or singleness, reflects the glory of God to a world that is watching.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

So, What's the Big Deal about Marriage?

Part 1

For readers outside my LIFE class at our church, this post (and some subsequent ones) may need a brief explanation.  In the class we are looking into what is happening in our culture and in what some have called Christian subculture, with regard to the shift away from marriage as it has been defined for centuries.  One recent example that occurred after our study began comes to us from California.  When four individuals on the state Supreme Court can redefine marriage for the entire state, it should cause us to pay attention and to graciously respond.

As our class delves into this topic, we plan also to examine singleness and dating, and what is best for society when it comes to divorce and remarriage.  If we are indeed ambassadors for Jesus, then with careful attention to how Christians act in the world today, we want to thoughtfully consider how these areas impact the perception of God in society.

Each week in class I lead off these messages with a statement of hope, not condemnation.  As we look at the Scriptures to see what God intends, we also immediately acknowledge that the vast majority of us have been affected in an adverse way either by broken relationships, abandonment, emotional separation, or divorce—all against a cultural backdrop that devalues meaningful sexual relationships that last.  The purpose for our class study, and for publishing these thoughts here, is not at all to condemn, but to provide hope.  It is the hope of genuine, fulfilled, joyful life with God through Christ.  It is the hope of grace, mercy, forgiveness and restoration.  It is the hope for a new day.

So, what is the big deal about marriage, and why do followers of Christ care so much about the institution of marriage?  We believe that ultimately God’s purpose for marriage is that His glory would be portrayed to a watching world.

God's Purpose for Marriage: His Glory Portrayed

Here is a basic definition.  Marriage is, and always has been, intended to be a lifelong covenant relationship in which the glory of God is portrayed in the joining together of one man and one woman for life, as they grow together in oneness and unity through love and respect (Genesis 2.15-25, 15.7-18; Malachi 2.14-16; Matthew 5.31-32, 19.1-12; 1 Corinthians 7.1-40; Ephesians 5.15-33).  Listed below are some of the various facets of God’s purpose and design for marriage, with some scriptural clarifications.

  1. To demonstrate the gospel in the permanent relationship of God with His chosen ones

    • Ephesians 5.15-33: As shown by the analogy of Jesus Christ as groom, and the church (all genuine believers in Christ) as the bride
    • Genesis 15.7-18: As shown in the beginning of God's covenant with Abram (who became Abraham)

  2. To mirror the image of God

    • Genesis 1.26-27: To demonstrate their mutual value, both men and women are created in the image of God
    • Genesis 2.15-25: The image of God, then, is also portrayed uniquely in marital oneness as man and woman are joined together

  3. To complete and compliment (and at times compensate for) each other as husband and wife, and to experience companionship

    • Genesis 2.18-20: To demonstrate their complementary qualities, in the beginning, God designed a woman for the man who would be a helper corresponding to the man (translated into English, the Hebrew reads "...a helper corresponding to..." or "...a helper next to...")
    • 1 Corinthians 11.11-12: At a very basic level, men need women and women need men

  4. To promote holiness and purity

    • 1 Corinthians 7.1-9: God designed sexual intimacy to be wonderfully enjoyed in the special covenant of marriage
    • Romans 1.26-27: To preserve the pattern of God's design for the healthy pleasure inherent in marriage, God intends that sexual intimacy would not take place outside of a covenant relationship between one man and one woman

  5. To multiply a godly legacy

    • Genesis 1.28, 9.1, 9.7: Procreation to populate the earth
    • Deuteronomy 6.1-25; Ephesians 6.4: Affirmation of God’s word and work from generation to generation, training children in His ways

Often misunderstood by many today, God's design for marriage was never intended to put a restraint on us for the sake of killing our joy.  Far from that, His intended design has always been for His glory, and for our good.  When we treat marriage the way God designed it, He provides an exquisite joy for us—in Him, and as husbands and wives.  And therein is great hope!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Shack?

At the outset, I must admit that I have not yet read the book, The Shack, by William P. Young.  But recently while in a large gathering I was attending, the speaker recommended the book with unspecified caveats.  I was curious and perhaps even intrigued at the speaker's enthusiasm for the book, and thought I should promptly check it out.  With other books on my to-be-read list, I thought maybe I would try to find a good review or two, to see what made the book so special.  One such review actually found me.

I was forwarded (hat tip: Blake Derrick) a review by Tim Challies.  His review is well worth your time.  On his blog he has posted a brief explainer, and then his review in PDF format.  With care and respect, Challies writes a cogent piece wherein he specifies several points at which The Shack, even in its genre of fiction, communicates an understanding of God that seems foreign to the Bible.  Perhaps Young never intended to write a theological treatise.  But whatever his intent, when people are seeking to understand God through The Shack instead of The Bible, we have a problem.

If you have read the book or plan to read it, I encourage you to take the time to read Challies' review.  Even if you do not agree with everything in Challies' wording or argumentation, his central warning is well placed.  He calls the book "dangerous," due to the extent of error.  Quoting from the book in several instances, he articulates problems in what Young communicates about God in the theological concepts of revelation, salvation, and the Trinity.

Both Al Mohler and Mark Driscoll agree in calling parts of the book heresy, so you know that major lines of orthodoxy appear to have been crossed.

When I disagree over a book's premise or content, I usually let it go.  However, of grave concern to me is the widespread appeal, not of the fictional story, but of the perceived theology of this book (just check out the many "this changed my life" and "this is the best explanation of the Holy Trinity" reviews on Amazon.com).  As of this writing, the book is #8 on Amazon's sales rank list.  It has become a phenomenon of sorts, and thus I sensed the need to flag these concerns here.

Friday, May 16, 2008

reThink Conference 08 Notes

UPDATE: Alex Chediak has posted all notes.  Here is Session 1 (Leon Tucker), Session 2 (David Horner), Session 3 (Dave Owen), Session 4 (Steve Wright), and Session 5 (Randy Stinson).

Original post follows.

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As mentioned in an earlier post, Providence Student Ministries Pastor Steve Wright has written a book titled, reThink (check here for details).  The convictions that inspired that book also initiated reThink Conference 08, which was hosted today at Providence.

Here is the purpose for the meeting from the conference's registration website:

The reThink Conference is for youth pastors, pastors, education pastors, parents and youth leaders who desire a greater biblical understanding of how the two primary institutions that God has established in the Bible—the family and the church—work together in the context of youth ministry.

Today's conference was sponsored by Providence, Two Institutions, and InQuest Ministries.

If you missed the conference, my new friend Alex Chediak has offered you a valuable resource: he live-blogged the conference, which means extensive notes will soon be available for you.  He even flew in from California to join us for the event.  At this writing, Alex's notes from the first session by Leon Tucker are posted, and the remaining sessions will follow as soon as he able to edit them.

You can find Alex's reThink Conference 08 notes in his blog.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Inviting the Good Hand of God

The hand of God, as the term is used in scripture, can mean many things.  Often it illustrates the idea of God's protection, provision, and direction.  It can also mean deliverance or salvation, and can even be used with regard to discipline or punishment.

In the twin books of Ezra-Nehemiah, three times the phrase "good hand of God" is employed.  Each of the three instances displays the sovereignty of God as He acts in a particular way to bless an individual or group.  Certainly, scripture describes God's ability to do as He pleases (Psalm 115.2-3), and that whatever He desires to do, He can and will do (Psalm 135.5-6), even if it means changing the heart of a pagan king (2 Chronicles 36.22-23).

And yet, it is interesting to note that in Ezra 7.6-10, we have a brief explanation of why God's good hand was upon someone—in this case, Ezra.  The text says in verse six that the pagan king who was holding Ezra captive was granting whatever Ezra requested because the hand of God was on him.  And again in verse nine, it speaks of the speed and ease with which he was able to travel and begin his work, since "the good hand of his God" was on him.

What is very intriguing to me is that in verse ten, we are given a glimpse of why God's good hand was on him.  It says His good hand was working for the good of Ezra, "For," or because of, certain characteristics in Ezra's life.  Because of faithfulness in some specific areas, God was directly honoring Ezra's obedience and was blessing his work.  So what was it that Ezra was doing that, from a human vantage point, seemed to please the heart of God and invite His good hand?

Ezra 7.10 tells us the human side of the equation.  Ezra "had set his heart," or purposed or resolved within himself, that he would continue to do three things as he fulfilled his calling and work.

1.  He had resolved to study the scriptures.

...had set his heart to study the law of the Lord...

2.  He had resolved to apply the scriptures.

...had set his heart...to practice it...

3.  He had resolved to teach or share the scriptures.

...had set his heart...to teach His statutes and ordinances...

To be certain, we cannot manipulate God.  We can't orchestrate situations so that we gain His attention and hopefully draw His blessing on us.  But this scripture reminds us of what is near to the heart of God: that we would be people who study His word, actually live out the scriptures in our daily routines, and then, to whatever degree God gives us influence, share and explain with others what we have learned in our study and practice.

If only I would set my heart to the same three priorities, faithfully and passionately resolving to be faithful to God's word!  For Ezra, the result was God's blessing in his work, and favor and goodwill not only with the followers of God, but also with those in the larger culture who were not believers.

Now that's a good model to follow.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Why Progress?: How This Blog Got Its Name

What exactly is progress?  There are so many applications.

Much has been written in recent years regarding modernism and societal progress.  Whether with regard to technology, academics, business, or culture in general, many social thinkers have debated the value of progress.  Does progress ultimately benefit or harm society?  In an introductory chapter in his excellent book, Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives, Richard Swenson, M.D., discusses what he calls "The Pain of Progress."  This conversation about progress is certainly intriguing to me, but that's not what this blog is about.

A revived and in-vogue political term that has picked up its steam in the past few months and years is "progressive."  The concept, with regard to politics, has been around since the early 20th century (or even earlier), and became the name of a political party.  However, I have heard the updated version of usage much more frequently in the last decade.  Once conservative politicos had, as one left-leaning operative called it, "hijacked" the definition of the word "liberal" by attempting to turn it into a bad word the last few election cycles, many liberals decided to redefine themselves as progressives.  To the chagrin of true American progressives, who do not enjoy the supposed synonymy with American liberalism, this definition has stuck, at least for now, and remains as the descriptor of choice for forward-thinking liberal politicians who are anxious to portray themselves as moving away from supposedly negative traditions of the past.  This, too, is for me an interesting discussion, and while I chagrin at some liberals' hijacking of the term, progressive, that is not my concern here either.  Just a little shout out to my progressive friends.

When I was in college and took jazz piano and fancied the idea that I could actually play, at least I learned the basics—and learned my limits.  To this day I cannot read sheet music well, and I was never very good at improvisation, but for piano comping (a primarily jazz term short for accompanying), along with bass and drums to lay under an improvised solo, I learned how to navigate chord progressions with decent accuracy.  For true jazzmen, these charts are often referred to simply as the "progression," or "changes."  To me, this is yet another engaging aspect of the myriad applications of the concept of progression, but this is not what this blog is about.

So what is this blog about?

In this post, and indeed to a degree with most posts on this blog, I would like to think through what helps us to make genuine progress in our lives.  I want to encourage us to think of progress in terms of maturity and development on personal, familial, congregational and societal levels.  And at the core of this ongoing discussion is a very central biblical principle.

A few years ago, I was teaching through the biblical book of Hebrews and had some interesting and convicting realizations.  There is a wonderful section where the writer wants to explain something rich and full to his readers, but he seems to stop midstream with a genuine concern.  What I learned from his pause spun me like a windmill in a tornado.

The writer wants to tell them something about an important man with a funny (to us) name, Melchizedek.  He would like to draw a comparison to Jesus the Christ, and then make the contrast that Jesus is still far greater...but he pauses because he recognizes something curious about his readers.  It goes like this:

Concerning him [Melchizedek] we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.  For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.  For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant.  But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.  Hebrews 5.11-14 (NASB)

Now admittedly, most scholars would not say that the letter To the Hebrews, (or, The Epistle to the Hebrews), is primarily about making progress in one's faith, per se.  But I would argue that, if clearly defined, this is in fact one of the main sub-themes.  How so?

Many would agree that the primary message the writer wants to convey is that Jesus is better than anyone or anything.  The Book of Hebrews is a patently Christian message that speaks of the value of the readers' Jewish heritage, but also then lovingly encourages and admonishes the readers not only to place their faith in Jesus, but to continue in their trust in Him, without looking back.

The writer asserts that what they have seen in their law has given a representation or a shadow of the true Redeemer, Jesus.  But Jesus is far greater than anyone or anything, because He actually fulfills the law—He is the reality of what had been prefigured in the law.  The law itself could never bring complete and continual cleansing, so the readers are challenged not only to trust in Christ, but also to keep pressing forward in their faith, and not waver in non-belief.  It is the message of endurance and perseverance in their trust in Christ.  To be sure, it is not a matter of leaving the gospel behind in order to move forward to presumably deeper things; it is about relishing in the gospel and continually digging further to mine the depths of life when one is constantly and consistently being transformed by the gospel.  It is about sanctification and endurance.  It's called maturity.  It's called progress.

Some interpreters argue that this paragraph is addressed to nonbelievers who need to grow in their understanding by placing their faith into Christ.  Others argue that this section is addressed to "backsliding" Christians who should have progressed by now.  Both interpretations may have decent arguments.  But to debate either side, in my opinion, is to miss the writer's point.  He is addressing a wide-ranging Jewish audience, which, like any Christian congregation today, includes some who are genuine, mature believers, some who are immature believers, some who think they are believers but are not, and some who cannot decide who or what they will follow.  In my view, at least part of what the writer is doing as he intersperses warnings throughout his letter is to use the letter (as a whole) to address all types within his wide range of readers.  His desire is to bring everyone up to speed—to maturity in Christ through faith.

So the writer has much to say about Melchizedek (whose name translates to righteous king, or king of righteousness), but cannot move forward because of the dull ears and eyes of the readers.  They should have progressed in faith, but like babies they have come to need continual milk instead of solid foods.  His indictment is clear in verse 14: they will neither be able to understand what he's writing about, nor to discern good and evil in life, unless by practice they are training their senses, and thus maturing and progressing in their faith.

The more I looked, the more I saw this principle throughout scripture.  And there's even more.

The sobering truth is, if you're not progressing, you're automatically regressing.

In a Christian's growth process, there's no such thing as reaching a plateau from which you cannot fall back.  We can liken this principle to swimming upstream in a river.  Once you stop actively swimming, you cannot maintain your position.  You automatically start drifting backwards.  In the same way, the follower of Christ who is not progressing may drift from what he has learned because he allowed it to become rote and thoughtless, or maybe she has forgotten how to apply what she once knew because she never practiced it.

The same is true in Hebrews 5.  The writer of Hebrews compares his readers (or at least some of them) to a baby who can only consume milk.  In fact, this baby needs milk again, even though he has had ample opportunity to move on.  Eating something more significant will make him sick, because he is not ready for it, not having practiced and grown into solid foods.  He says his readers need to be taught the same things again, even though by now they should have become teachers.

One of my great fears is that I would become dull of hearing like these folks.  My desire is to keep practicing, keep training my senses, so that I am enduring in life and consistently progressing in character for the sake of Christ.  I want to know Him more, and not look back.  I desire to grow and mature.  I want to progress.

That is what this blog is primarily about: Making progress in every area of life.  So as I mentioned, occasionally I will post thoughts about progress in terms of maturity and development on personal, familial, congregational and societal levels.  My sincere hope is that this process of thinking and writing will not only help me to consider life through the worldview of Christ, but that anyone who reads these posts will also be encouraged to make progress.

Let's join together in this Godward progress.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Transition to Fatherhood

Over the years, it has been encouraging and challenging to me to think about the prospect of fatherhood.  It's amazing to hear the remarks of so many dads in so many contexts, and then wonder what it would be like to actually be a dad.

I have wanted to be a dad for quite a while, so that certainly affects my response to this transition.  And I realize that different people act, react, and cope with changes in different ways.  However, I would like to say that, in my opinion, the transition to fatherhood is nowhere near as dramatic as many have said.

Don't get me wrong: Taking care of our newborn is not exactly easy, and it currently involves nonstop care.  But it's not difficult, either; it's just time consuming.  My so-called pastoral schedule is essentially non-existent at this point, but we are only three weeks into my son's life, and things are already getting back into what I would call a new normal.  No, things will never be the same for my wife and me, but instead of letting that sound like a negative, I want to unequivocally and clearly state that it is a huge positive.  Even though it's extra work, it's not hard, and we absolutely love having this new addition, our son.

Many times I've heard statements from fathers who questioned whether the transition to married life or the transition to parenthood was a more dramatic change.  For me, I can say that the transition to being a husband was more prominent than becoming a father, but both were smooth transitions.  Neither change has to be dramatic or traumatic.  The key is remembering that my life is not my own (it is God's), and that I cannot be a good husband or father apart from God—I am completely dependent on a God who loved us so much that He came to serve an undeserving crowd.

So, to any reader who might be awaiting marriage or parenthood, for what it's worth, let me give my perception of life as a husband and new dad.  If you know and draw your strength from God, and prepare your mind for the changes, neither transition has to be difficult.  In fact, it can even be relatively smooth and comfortable.

You know, I had been wondering what would bring me out of my blog posting slump.  Since February 13, I had lost track with trying to write and publish here.  But I knew that something big at some point, like for instance, becoming a father (!), would bring renewed impetus to writing.

Before, the problem seemed to be: having enough time to write all that I wanted to write.

Now, as a father of a newborn, having enough time to write should not be a problem....

And even though that last sentence drips with sarcasm, I actually hope to write more, and more frequently, in the coming days regarding some thoughts on family, parenting, and specifically fatherhood.  I count it a blessing and privilege.

Comments are welcomed.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Latte Art

Here's a little something for those who think I take my coffee grinding, brewing and drinking too seriously.  This was actually on washingtonpost.com's front page, top stories section earlier today.  There's even a two-minutes, 46-seconds video for your enjoyment.

You can find the story here, titled The Latte With the Best Squiggle Wins.

Friday, February 1, 2008

New Providence Team Resources

We have some very gifted leaders at our church, and I thought it would be good to introduce you to three newly-released or soon-to-be-released resources that I believe could be very beneficial to your Godward progress.  For the two books mentioned below, I hope to provide in the future a sort of review, or at least overview, in order to give an idea of what to expect.  But for now, here is a brief snapshot.

Horner book cover Our senior pastor, David Horner, has written a new book titled A Practical Guide for Life and Ministry, which will be available in late February or early March from Baker Books.  The subtitle is Overcoming 7 Challenges Pastors Face.  Although this book is geared towards pastors as a primary audience, I would say that the principles are transferable to anyone who wants to live a balanced life regardless of role.  David has a passion to equip others in life and ministry.  His first major written work, Firmly Rooted, Faithfully Growing, contains a biblical framework for principle-based ministry, where he details a healthy model for church life, philosophy and structure.  He has also produced a book for fathers, Dad's Words of Wisdom.  Both of these books are available at our resource center.  Again, this new Life and Ministry balance book will be available by early March at most bookstores, and can be preordered now from Barnes & Noble, Amazon, CBD, WTS Bookstore, ...you get the idea.

Wright book cover Our student ministries pastor, Steve Wright, also recently released a new book, reThink.  This book takes a thoughtful and respectfully critical look at where many youth ministries are today, and asks the reader the question: Are these types of student ministries accomplishing what we think and hope they are?  He has such a heart to see parents actively involved in their children's discipleship.  Steve's book is available several places as well, but we recommend you get it from the publisher, InQuest Ministries.

DR_Websmall Daniel Renstrom is our college ministry director.  Although you can hear Daniel's work on the college ministry worship team's previously released worship album called Vaunted Pleasures, and although he has sung with the Shelly Moore Band, this is his first solo venture (solo doesn't mean that he's not backed by a great band).  This six-track EP titled adore and tremble is excellent, and will bless your personal worship time.  It is available for purchase at Providence, and will soon be available online at his website and on iTunes.

I pray, along with these brothers of mine, that these resources will equip and encourage you.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Doing God's Known Will

Following on the heels of my first post (i.e. one month ago) :), I thought it would be good to post the main idea that initiated the follow-up.  It was the FLC's December 16 class time in which we talked about the importance of doing God's known will, instead of spending so much time focused on (and worrying about) finding God's will, usually with regard to a personal situation that requires a decision.

First, here are five of the specific things that scripture tells us is God's "will" (in Greek, θέλω) for us.

1. It is God’s will that all who trust in Christ Jesus will have eternal life.

For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.

John 6.40 (NASB, emphasis added)

2. It is God’s will that all believers be consumed with His Spirit.

Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.  And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit….

Ephesians 5.15-18 (NASB, emphasis added)

3. It is God’s will that all believers be progressing in holiness.

For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God; and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in the matter because the Lord is the avenger in all these things, just as we also told you before and solemnly warned you.  For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification.

1 Thessalonians 4.3-7 (NASB, emphasis added)

4. It is God’s will that all believers be constantly joyful, prayerful, and thankful.

Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5.16-18 (NASB, emphasis added)

5. It is God’s will that all believers be obedient for the sake of nonbelievers.

Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.  For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.

1 Peter 2.13-15 (NASB, emphasis added)

(By the way, as I described on December 16, my wording on point #5 is not meant to imply that our obedience isn't for the glory of God, or secondarily for our benefit in growth, or anything else for that matter.  Peter simply reminds us that our obedience in submission validates the gospel in our lives, to the degree that others notice and cannot deny the power of God at work in us—the power of a changed life.)

So...how are you doing?  Are you fulfilling what you know is God's will for you?  None of us can say that we are always doing God's will—all the time, in every area listed above.  But are you pursuing these things?  Are you maturing in them?  Are you making progress?

So often, we don't or cannot hear God's voice on the unknown, specific, personal areas, because we are not even attempting by His Spirit to do His will in the known, general, universal areas.

Finally, here is a partial list of verses which speak clearly of doing God's will.  Each text appears to assume believers should already know God's will in order to do it.

  • Matthew 7.21
  • Matthew 12.50
  • Mark 3.35
  • Luke 12.47
  • John 4.34
  • John 9.31
  • Acts 13.22
  • Acts 21.14
  • Ephesians 6.6
  • Hebrews 10.36
  • Hebrews 13.21
  • 1 John 2.17

God's will.  Just do it.