Sunday, April 27, 2014


"Don't be afraid!" Moses replied. "God has come only to test you, so that by obeying him you won't sin."

--  Exodus 20:20

Are you one of the millions of Americans with a phobia--a strong, irrational fear of something that poses little or no actual danger? 

Maybe it's something common like claustrophobia (the fear of enclosed areas) or aviophobia (the fear of flying)--or perhaps one of the biggest fears of them all: glossophobia Lion(speaking in public). But you also wouldn't be alone if you suffer from galeophobia (the fear of cats) or even coulrophobia (the fear of clowns). And what about folks diagnosed with panophobia?

(They fear everything!)

Christ-followers aren't immune from phobias. But it might surprise you to know that some suffer from zeusophobia--a fear of God. To be fair, maybe it's more accurate to say that many Christ-followers aren't so much afraid of God as they are of saying yes to Him. One of the problems is that we too often think of God as a cosmic consultant offering well-intentioned suggestions rather than the all-knowing Creator who made us, loves us and wants only the best for us. When you get down to it, saying no to God is perhaps the most basic definition of sin. And mankind has been doing just that since those early days of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

We know in our heads and our hearts that God loves us. In fact, He loves us so much that he sent His only Son to die on the cross to pay for all of our failures in life. So with this in mind, why would anyone say no to God?

First, saying no and playing it safe is a basic human instinct. Fleeing from danger (real or perceived) makes perfect sense when we consider our innate desire for self-preservation. We also can say no to God when He calls us to do something uncomfortable or inconvenient. And that seems to be more often than not. Maybe it's His call to help a neighbor who's between jobs, drive a shut-in to the grocery store or talk with a co-worker who's approaching a spiritual crossroads. Taking that first step can be awkward, difficult-and sometimes scary.

But maybe selfishness is the biggest reason so many people say no to God. After all, saying yes to Him usually means saying no to us. But be forewarned: when we say no and turn our backs to God, we need to prepare for a certain level of spiritual storminess and turmoil. God knows what He wants and How He wants to do it. So it's only fitting that we'll often find ourselves in a much worse situation after our refusal than if we had just said yes to Him in the beginning. As the old saying goes, sometimes we need to feel the heat before we can see the light.

Are you afraid to say yes to God? You're not alone. And He'd like to talk with you about it.

"God's Spirit doesn't make us slaves who are afraid of him," the Apostle Paul tells us through the Book of Romans. "Instead, we become his children and call him our Father."

So what are you afraid of?

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Overcoming the Inevitable

Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.
Do you believe this?"

--  John 11:25-26

Few people like to talk about it, but it's something we'll all have to face one day. It's not a trip to the dentist's office, an audit by the IRS or even a ballet recital. It's something much more inevitable:

Why do so many people worry about death? For those who aren't Christ-followers, death represents the unknown. It's a gaping black hole. And who knows what's at the bottom of that pit or who's on the other side? And besides, death is just

What we don't know or understand Tombstonefrightens us. It frightens us a lot.

That doesn't sound very reassuring. So here's some good news, but it's only for Christ-followers. If you've accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you have absolutely nothing to fear from death. In fact, death is simply the transition between our relatively brief existence on Earth and an eternity of joy with Jesus. From Revelation--the final book of the Bible--we learn that our troubles, tears and sorrows will be things of the past. That sounds like something to anticipate rather than fear.

How is this possible? In short, it's the Easter story. After Jesus willingly died on a cross to pay the enormous debt for our sins, He proved that He was indeed God's Son by fulfilling Old Testament prophesies and rising to life. The huge boulder that had once sealed His grave was rolled away--and the tomb was empty! And so was the devil's greatest weapon against mankind: the inevitability of death.

The Easter story reveals an obvious truth: one day, death will take us all. But there's some very good news in this sobering thought. If you've surrendered your life to Jesus, death can't keep you. It's already been defeated through Jesus' triumphant resurrection.

When Easter morning arrives this Sunday, remember that it means much more than chocolate rabbits, jelly beans and colorful hard-boiled eggs. Easter is really a celebration about overcoming the inevitable and defeating the unbeatable. You can therefore believe Jesus' promises and have supreme confidence in your eternal future.

It's the amazing Easter story. He conquered death long ago so you don't have to worry about it today. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

On the Job

"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'"

--  Matthew 25:23 recently posted an article about The Happiest Jobs in America--a comprehensive list of occupations based on more than 25,000 employee-generated workplace reviews compiled by online jobs site CareerBliss. The list considered work-life balance, work environment, compensation and growth opportunities, along with several other factors. And if you believe its findings, the happiest employees around happen to be database administrators. The article also reports high satisfaction levels among quality assurance engineers and executive recruiters.

Who are the least satisfied on the job? JobApparently security officers, bank branch managers and accountants.

According to the old saying, you'll never work another day in your life if you love what you do for a living. That's when a run-of-the-mill job becomes a passion. But whether you're thrilled with your career or you're simply clocking in the hours for a paycheck, the Bible has some words of wisdom that put things into perspective: 

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart," writes the Apostle Paul, "as working for the Lord, not for men..."

So whether you're the CEO of an international corporation or a 9-to-5 ditch-digger, you should do your job for God's glory. This means Christ-followers need to consider the workplace as much a place of worship on weekdays as church is on Sundays. What's more, we must work--and live--with the end in mind. Because once we pass into eternity, job titles and salaries will be worthless. Rich or poor, famous or obscure, we'll all have to account for what we did in our lifetimes with the gifts and talents our Creator gave us.

The world's message is that money, position and upward mobility equal a successful career--and that a successful career means a successful life. But this is a distorted viewpoint. While there's nothing wrong with having a large bank account and an impressive job title, these things become obstacles when they're the focus of life and the object of worship. Everything we have--our money, possessions, family and health--is due to God's generosity. He gives it freely. And He can take it away without notice.

God's definition of success comes as a surprise to many. Instead of living self-centered lives on the fast track to stock options and a corner office, our motivation should revolve around being His hands and feet in the home, workplace and community. Our faithfulness to God is therefore the real gold standard of success. Likewise, it's how we should live with the end in mind: always on the job.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

In Search of Excellence

There are many rooms in my Father's house. If this were not true, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.

--  John 14:2

It's one of history's best-selling and most-influential books on business, as well as the most widely-held library book in the United States from 1989 to 2006. But some critics say its content is flawed and that the hype fails to live up to expectations.

First published in 1982, In Search of Excellence: Lessons from America's Best Run Companies explores the common management methodologies of 43 profitable and innovative corporations. And data analysis reveals that the authors' choices have largely held up over the years. CrownHowever, Forbes magazine points out that some of the profiled companies--like Wang Laboratories and Atari--have actually shrunk or gone bankrupt. The balance sheets of Xerox and NCR were also less than stellar in the 1980's--the era that the book covers. And an article in Fast Company magazine suggests that In Search of Excellence used faked data to make its case.

Maybe some of these companies weren't so excellent after all. But that's the way it is with anything created by humanity. In one way or another, we're all destined to disappoint.

Let's contrast this somber fact with heaven, one of God's creations that will far exceed mankind's preconceived notions and expectations. The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians that 14 years earlier, he had a remarkable glimpse of what all Christ-followers will one day experience for eternity. "Yes, only God knows whether I was in my body or outside my body," he reported. "But I do know that I was caught up to paradise and heard things so astounding that they cannot be expressed in words, things no human is allowed to tell."

The Bible doesn't provide a complete description of the afterlife, but what it does tell us is amazing. For example, we'll be reunited with fellow believers and celebrate with them in joy. And Revelation tells us that God's city is 1,400 miles long and just as wide and high, with walls 200 feet thick. Notably, there won't be any churches there because we'll have a personal relationship with Jesus and God. And no one will need the sun or the moon--or any kind of light for that matter--because God's glory will be the light, and Jesus will be its lamp. Revelation 21:3 tells us, "And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, 'Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God.'"

When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we can look forward to an eternity of happiness with our Creator. What's more, we'll enjoy a total absence of everything negative in the human experience. "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or sadness. There will be no more crying or pain," we read in the final book of the Bible. "Things are no longer the way they used to be."

Describing heaven on this side of eternity is largely futile because its mere existence overpowers anything that we can ever hope to imagine or comprehend. So until we get there, rest assured that it will exceed our expectations many times over. It's in heaven that we'll finally discover true excellence.