A Necessary Realignment

Responding to a middle-school “Bible challenge,” my wife Peggy had established a daily pattern of reading one chapter per day from God’s word. The more she learned about God, the more she wanted to know about Him. By the time she reached her mid-teens, Peggy knew she believed in God and in Jesus Christ, His Son, so she began to wonder, “If this is all true, what must God want from me?” Then reading a short summary of the gospel one day, she came to realize, “What God wants from me, is me.” Peggy was right—discovering Jesus demands a response, as the apostle Paul likewise found. Fallen to the ground in a brilliant flash of heavenly light, the ruthless Pharisee somehow mustered the two most vital questions one can ask: “Who are you, Lord?”1 and “What shall I do, Lord?”2

To discover Christ is to reach the realization that God is true, His character flawless, and His ways unsearchably wise. It is also a rendezvous with the humbling truth that our natural way of thinking is “hostile” to God and unable to submit to Him.3 Our actions follow our hearts and minds, so there must be for us a new direction for a lifetime of next steps. Indeed, there is: we align our mind with where we are going. Instructed Paul, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.”4 What might this look like? Paul gives us a glimpse: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”5

Then is “right-thinking” some kind of new law to pursue in our own power, one more rule to remember and manage? Hardly. God has given us a new way—a relational way—of life. It is the way of God’s Spirit in us. Paul assured the early church, “You are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you.”6 He said, “Those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires,” and “… the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.”7 We live in daily relationship with God, “be[ing] transformed by the renewing of [our] mind.”8 So today, we listen for His voice, trust in His promises, and go in His power to do what He’s prepared for us to do.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)

Father, you are wise, and your ways are so recognizably different than my own. Send your Spirit to lead me, that I would set my heart and mind on you and do what you call me to do today. Amen.

1 Acts 22:8
2 Acts 22:10
3 Romans 8:7
4 Colossians 3:1-2
5 Philippians 4:8
6 Romans 8:9 NLT
7 Romans 8:5, 6
8 Romans 12:2


A Life of Meaning

Isn’t it amazing that our God of limitless power is also our God of infinite love? Think about it for a minute: if God were all-powerful but imperfect in love, we might live our days in fear of caprice; but for indomitable power, on the other hand, a God of flawless love would be constrained in His ability to express it. Praise God, He is perfect in both! This then is the Gerasene’s story: in great love, Jesus cared for a man abandoned to a tortured existence, and in unmatched authority He dispersed his quaking tormentors of darkness. The man had become free—free from demonic authority, and free to follow Jesus.

As his Deliverer got in the boat to leave, the grateful man “begged to go with him.”1 Who could blame him? Yet Jesus had in mind something even greater for him—the gift of impact, or “making a difference,” we might say. “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you,”2 He replied. So, equipped with the one thing he needed for success, the true story of Jesus’ work in his life, “the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.”3 How many were “rescued … from the dominion of darkness and brought … into the kingdom of the Son”4 because of one man’s testimony, we cannot say. But we do know when Jesus returned to the Decapolis area and was asked to heal a man there, He “took him aside, away from the crowd.”5 In a region where He was once been asked to leave, there now amassed a crowd to see Him—perhaps the fruit of a one-time demoniac, now turned faithful witness.

Not many of us have had to suffer the way this man did, but we have experienced the power and love of Christ in our life, which is to say we have a story to tell. We need not to defend our testimony, because it is true. We don’t have to go about changing people, because we can’t. We need only to witness—to tell what we’ve seen—knowing people will be encouraged and God will be glorified. Could there be a more meaningful life than to make a Kingdom impact for eternity? By God’s grace we can, for we are in Christ, and by now we know this to be true. Jesus. Always. Wins.

“Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21)

Father, you have graced us with your favor and given us a story. Grace us again with the opportunity and courage to share it. Bear fruit for your Kingdom through us, your people. Amen.

1 Mark 5:18
2 Mark 5:19
3 Mark 5:20
4 Colossians 1:13
5 Mark 7:33


Resistance Training

Our Senior year in high school, we chose “Charlie’s Aunt” for our class play, and I assumed the role of Sir Francis Chesney. Between two of my scenes lay a sizable gap, so each night during this interlude another production member and I would slip away from practice to access the weight room. Over the six weeks or so before our debut, I increased my bench press maximum by 45 pounds. Resistance training didn’t make me a better actor, but it made me stronger.

As people in Christ, we are called to resist—to exert ourselves against the weight of oppression. His enemy is our enemy, so we struggle not against physical or ideological combatants, rather “against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms,”1 those that rise up in rebellion against God. Our battle is real, but how do we detect attacks from a silent foe we cannot see? We discern his voice of falsehood in opposition to truth—his attempts to deceive us into disbelieving God’s word or disregarding it entirely. He tempts us to think of God as less than He is, and he entices us to sate our “evil desire,”2 which leads to sin and death. All of this he does through lies.

How then do we fight this invisible battle? We stand—we are called to stand. “Put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand,”3 Paul writes. We plant ourselves squarely on who the Bible says God is and who God says we are in Christ Jesus. Discerning truth, we “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”4 We “offer [ourselves] to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and [we] offer every part of [ourselves] to him as an instrument of righteousness.”5 We remain “alert and of sober mind [as our] enemy the devil prowls about … looking for someone to devour.”6 We “resist him, standing firm in the faith,”7 knowing this promise from James: “Resist the devil … and he will flee from you.”8 Then “the God of all grace … will himself restore [us] and make [us] strong, firm and steadfast.”9 We will emerge from the trial of temptation, changed—strengthened and made confident in victory—for we stand in Christ, and Jesus always wins.

“Away from me, Satan!” (Matthew 4:10)

Father, temptations lure us, and we are easily deceived. Send us your Spirit to remind us what is true and to strengthen us against him who is false. Thank you that, against deception and temptation, we need only to stand in Christ. Amen.

1 Ephesians 6:12
2 James 1:14
3 Ephesians 6:13
4 2 Corinthians 10:5
5 Romans 6:13
6 1 Peter 5:8
7 1 Peter 5:9
8 James 4:7
9 1 Peter 5:10