All posts tagged: righteous

Are You Confusing Self-Control with Righteousness?

Isn’t it funny, and kind of bittersweet, how we look back and see the way we used to think when we were young? The more I age the more I realize I knew very little when I was younger. Kelli and I are going on 10 years of marriage and I’ve learned so much since then. Let me give you some context. When Kelli was 16 years old, just 2 years before we met, her parents divorced. There was a lot of pain for Kelli in the midst of the split and much of it was directed towards her dad. Fast forward a few years and I found myself sitting in Shannon’s office. I don’t remember the context of the entire conversation or why we were even having the conversation. I do remember talking about my marriage and my responsibility as a husband and a man. I remember telling Shannon for the first several years in our marriage my goal was simple: don’t be her dad. It was a pretty easy gauge to control myself …

Are Your Feelings Lying To You?

How many of us have found ourselves wanting to do what feels right? I have. Hollywood has taught us to “follow your heart,” but scripture says, “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” (Jeremiah 17:9). So what do we do with all these feelings we have, especially when a big decision is on the line? Let’s take a quick look at the story of King Saul following his feelings in 1 Samuel 13. Saul hadn’t been king long and was preparing the Israelite army for battle against the Philistines. Saul could sense the fear setting in among his troops and they were scattering. Time was running out. The battle was near. However, Saul wouldn’t do anything without God’s blessing. Earlier, Saul was given a command from the prophet and priest, Samuel, to wait until Samuel showed up to offer the burnt offering and peace offering to receive God’s blessing. Seeing his troops fearful and time running out, Saul took matters into his …

It’s Time For You to Move Forward.

Summers are always busy for Student Pastors. We go from mission trips to summer camps to swimming in a lot of different pools. When I wrote this, I was sitting in the auditorium of Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee for CIY camp. But, by the time you read this, it will be fall and I will be in Wyoming hunting in the woods! I wanted to share with you an experience I had during this summer with a group of 100 or so men. It’s called Tres Dias. The one I attended took place in North Georgia, but these events happen all over the world. I went into the weekend thinking I was going to have this incredible spiritual breakthrough, or this moment where God would rip away areas of struggle in my life. While this happened for most men at this retreat, God said and did something different in me. On the last day in a group discussion, through the Holy Spirit, God whispered, “Keith, you know exactly what you need to do. You …

Are You Living Out This Spiritual Oxymoron?

The dictionary defines an oxymoron as a “figure of speech in which apparently contradictory terms appear in conjunction.” Thank you for the useless help, Mr. Webster. I think that was an oxymoron. Useless help. Examples will serve us better: open secret, deafening silence, minor crisis, jumbo shrimp. I was talking with a man in Texas about oxymorons and he immediately burped out, intelligent preacher. Ouch! The Bible has some amazing oxymorons: virgin birth (Matthew 1:18), dead undertakers (Luke 9:60), blind guides (Matthew 15:14). Some of the most startling—and, perhaps, most useful—oxymorons spoken by Jesus are in the Gospel of Mark: losers who win and life-giving executions. If anyone would come after me he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. – Jesus, Mark 8:34-25, NIV We have all seen the bumper sticker: “He who dies with the most toys wins.” Jesus goes cross-grain with that secular-humanist thinking by …

God Hears and Responds to Your Distress

Jonah prayed. Before we look at some of the aspects of his prayer, let it sink in that he prayed. In chapter one, we learn that Jonah tried to flee from the Lord’s presence by boarding a boat to Tarsus. In response, the Lord caused a mighty storm. The storm ceases once the pagans on the ship cry out to the Lord and throw Jonah into the sea. The Lord appoints a great fish to swallow Jonah. “Then Jonah prayed” (Jonah 2:1). I remember hearing this story when I was a child and I was always thought that the Lord was punishing Jonah by appointing the fish. But when we examine Jonah’s prayer, we see that’s not what Jonah thought! I sank down to the very roots of the mountains. I was imprisoned in the earth, whose gates lock shut forever. But you, O Lord my God, snatched me from the jaws of death! – Jonah 2:6 Jonah was going to die if not for the fish. The fish was not an instrument of punishment; the fish was an …

Are You a Bruised Reed or Smoldering Candle?

The Apostle Paul reveled in the length and width and height and depth of Christ’s love—a love that embraced his highs and lows, his past and his future. That is the beauty of the Gospel—its ability to deal with all of life, from the cradle to the grave. Is it any wonder that Paul tagged it a “love that surpasses knowledge”? (Ephesians 3:18-19) That’s a beautiful thought, but I have a hard time accepting it. Maybe you do, too. I’m growing, but I still have relapses of loading up the truck with if only’s, what ifs, and now whats—regrets. The fruit of stupid decisions. The fruit of repeated mistakes. Truckloads of regrets that I wish I could unload and then just drive away. But, that just doesn’t seem right. And then I was shown a description written by the prophet Isaiah over twenty-seven hundred years ago. It is a portrait of the Messiah. Seven hundred years later Matthew found that portrait, brushed it off, and gave it to the world. He will not crush the …

Distracted by Spiritual Fat and a Host of Parasites

Florence Chadwick, according to Leadership Journal, was a brave and strong young lady. She waded into the cold waters of the Pacific Ocean on a July morning in 1952, to do something no woman had ever done—swim the twenty-six mile stretch of water between Catalina Island and the California coast. She was a veteran of long-distance swimming, but that July swim in the Pacific presented come terrific challenges: sharks were trailing her and had to be driven off several times. A fog then settled on the channel. Florence swam for fifteen hours before taking her last stroke. She was tired, cold, and discouraged. And she couldn’t see the shoreline. Shortly after being dragged into the boat it was discovered that Florence was less than a mile from the shoreline. Florence failed her challenge because she lost sight of the goal. As followers of Jesus, we have a goal set before us—being made into the likeness of Jesus (see Romans 8:29, 2 Corinthians 3:18). All-too-often, I get distracted and lose sight of the goal. God knows this tendency is …

There is More to You Than Just You

Colossians is one of my favorite books of the New Testament.  I’m not just saying that because I was asked to write about it; I truly enjoy the theology that Paul uses here.  The problem with writing about this book is I don’t really feel up to the task.  I don’t know if I have the right words to get what’s in my head onto “paper.” But that’s what Paul is trying to teach in this letter isn’t it?  I don’t have the right words, my thoughts don’t always come out the best way possible.  That’s why he taught that our life isn’t really our own. This is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory. – Colossians 1:27 It’s Christ in me that gives me the hope of glory, but Paul doesn’t stop there. We are writing to God’s holy people in the city of Colosse, who are faithful brothers and sisters in Christ. – Colossians 1:2 It’s not just Christ in me, but me in Christ.  Let’s take it even …

How Big is Your Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness

If you’re anything like me, the smell of freshly baked cookies or freshly brewed coffee creates a mouthwatering desire that I instantly want to satisfy. As I walk into a coffee shop, my taste buds begin cheering and I know that soon I will be enjoying a delicious treat. But then an hour later, my plate is filled with crumbs, my cup is empty, and again I want more. How different would your life look like if you began to hunger and thirst for righteousness the way that you desired to fill your stomach? What if you became more concerned with finding approval in God than eating your next meal, or taking your next breath? How big is your hunger and thirst for righteousness? “God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied..” – Jesus, Matthew 5:6 Do you hunger for God’s approval more than for man’s? We often seek approval from others and neglect to find our approval in God. Social media has driven us to desire those little blue …

Are You Living in the Best Neighborhood?

Paul was a stud and he had every reason to be. He was a social elite, an intellectual genius, and the cherry on top of the creme when it came to Jewish standards. Every parent wanted their kid to be like Paul. Wives would say to their husbands, “Why can’t you be more like Paul?” It would have been easy for Paul to rely on his own “righteousness.” How many of us have been caught driving in that neighborhood? Forget driving, how many of us have bought a house in the neighborhood of credentials, titles, and worth built by human hands? In Philippians 3, Paul gives his own introduction speech, listing all his accolades.  It’s not because he is obsessed with himself, but to demonstrate he is qualified to speak into the lives of the Jews. No one had the credentials this dude was carrying, and in an instant, all that had meaning and clout among a nation that worshipped the Mosaic Law, Paul wrote off.   I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the …