Wheat head close up at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Humility and control

I am a control freak. I like to know what’s coming. I like to plan out my steps before I take them. There are times when I don’t mind spontaneity, but generally speaking I like to have a plan. But there’s only so much a plan can do for me when I’m not in control.

Have you ever been in that situation? Where you do everything right and the world still goes wrong? Where you have been obedient and done what you were supposed to do and even then, the circumstances only get worse instead of better? Have you ever been there? I have. And it’s frustrating. Because all throughout the Bible, God says to do what He says and that He’ll take care of us. But then when we do, sometimes it feels like He doesn’t hold up His end of the bargain.

Wheat head close up at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Wheat head close up at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verses are 2 Chronicles 6:38-39.

If they turn to you with their whole heart and soul in the land of their captivity and pray toward the land you gave to their ancestors—toward this city you have chosen, and toward this Temple I have built to honor your name—then hear their prayers and their petitions from heaven where you live, and uphold their cause. Forgive your people who have sinned against you.

I usually hear this verse around election time. There is something encouraging about the thought of the believers of America uniting under a common cause and turning back to God. But it’s a dream. I haven’t ever seen it in my lifetime. As far as I can see,typical  American Christians are just as self-centered as the rest of the world, so getting them to agree on anything is practically impossible. But as I read this verse today, something else occurred to me that I hadn’t ever really thought of before.

If we want God to work in our lives, if we want Him to show up, we have to change our attitude. Or, rather, we have to be willing to let Him change our attitudes. Real change is something only He can do, but our attitude is up to us. Attitude is a choice that we make every morning when we roll out of bed.

As I stated before, and in many previous blog posts, I am a control freak. I don’t know why or how I got to be this way. I just like to be in charge of what’s happening around me because I feel like I can keep track of the details better than anybody else can. But there are parts of my life (major parts) that are too big for me. And I need to admit that, not only to God but also to myself. I need to stop trying to control everything, because some situations are above my pay grade. And it’s those situations and circumstances that I need to be humble about and ask God for help with.

So it all comes down to attitude. I need to be humble about my life and realize that I’m not in control. God is going to do what He wants with my life. He made it, just like He made everything else, so He has the right to do what He wants with it. But it’s my choice how I respond to it; I can either go willingly or kicking and screaming. God will have His way no matter how I choose to respond.

I get frustrated when I do everything I’m supposed to do and life still doesn’t work out, but when it comes right down to it, God is in control of my life. And if He needs to allow more difficulty into my life to remind me that He’s the one who calls the shots, so be it. In the end, He’s going to have His way no matter what, and His way is going to be good. His way is better than my way ever can be. And He’s proven that to me over and over and over again.

If we turn our hearts to God, if we change our attitudes about God and recognize that He is the one who’s in charge, and if we ask Him for help and realize that we can’t make it through life without Him, He’ll hear us. He sees us and moves in our lives anyway, whether we ask Him to or not. But when we change our attitudes, we start looking for Him. And then we can see Him.

So check your attitude this morning. Are you trying to control your life? Are you trying to be the one in charge? You can try it, but the more you try to control your life, the more of your life will slip through your fingers. Change your attitude; be willing to let God change your heart. It will make all the difference in the world.

Sunrise on Jamaica Beach, Galveston, TX

Transformation is a choice

At the beginning of a New Year, everyone wants to be a new person. People want new habits, new scales, new everything because they are trying to be new people, whether through diet and exercise or style changes or clothes changes. How many people do you know who have started resolutions to change the way they look?

But it isn’t losing weight that will make you a new person. Changing your clothing style or the church you attend (or its frequency) won’t make you a new person. Maybe your clothes or your weight can make you look like a new person, but to truly change you into a new person you need to change something deeper than your shirt.

You need to change your perspective on life. You need to change the way you think.

Sunrise on Jamaica Beach, Galveston, TX

Sunrise on Jamaica Beach, Galveston, TX

Today’s verse is Romans 12:2.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

You have two choices when it comes to determining how you’re going to think. You can either think about the world and everything in it the way that God has said, or you don’t. There’s no middle ground. And there’s no shortcut either.

There’s no magic switch that makes this easier for you to accomplish. Actually, it isn’t even something you can do. It’s a choice you make, and God is the one who does the rest. That’s what makes this so difficult.

Look at the verse. You can copy the behaviors of the world or you can let God transform you. Those are choices, and those choses are yours.

If you want to be a new person, you have to let God transform your mind from what it is to what He wants it to be. You have to let Him change the way you think. That’s the only way it works. Otherwise, you will stay the same inside, whether you change on the outside or not.

If all you do is change your outside, it’s like putting clean clothes on after you’ve rolled around in the mud. Your clothes look nice, but what’s under it is filthy.

This choice, between the world’s transforming power or God’s transforming power, is something we need to settle in our minds before we even get out of bed in the morning. We have to decide which one is going to hold sway in our lives. Are we going to listen to the world? Or are we going to listen to God?

On the surface, the answer is easy. God all the way, right? That’s the best answer. And if you’re a Christ follower, you know it. But knowing it and living it are two separate things. And usually no matter how good my intentions are to listen to God, I still get sidetracked because thinking the way the world thinks is so much easier.

Letting God transform my life is a process. He started it when I was seven years old, and He’s not even close to finishing with me. It’s a long, painful process because I hold on to the perspectives that the world has taught me, and He keeps telling me that I need to let them go.

Changing the way you think is impossible if you keep filling your head with the status quo of the world. That’s why we need to get to know God. We need to be reading our Bibles. We need to be praying and having conversations with God. However you work your relationship with God, you need to do it, you need to fill your life and your mind with Him, because the more of Him that is in your life, the less of the world can get in.

So before you walk out your door this morning, decide who you’re going to let transform you. The world will try. The world will never stop trying. But the world’s “transformation” is more of a ‘deformation.” There’s nothing the world has changed that has been better for it.

But God? God can take the broken and the hurting and put them back together again. He can heal hearts. He can change lives. He can right wrongs. But it all starts with a choice, and it’s a choice we have to make.

Cat in a field at Safe Haven Farm - Haven, KS

Turn back

Do you ever get stuck thinking that God has a great big hammer in His hand and He’s just waiting for an opportunity to whack you with it? I know life can make us feel that way sometimes, but it’s not true. The Bible is full of instances where God demonstrates just how merciful He is.

Ezekiel isn’t exactly the book I would first go to in looking for verses about God’s mercy. Ezekiel is pretty hard core, actually. So when I was looking for a verse about second chances, I was surprised to find this passage.

Cat in a field at Safe Haven Farm - Haven, KS

Cat in a field at Safe Haven Farm – Haven, KS

Today’s verses are Ezekiel 18:30-32.

Therefore, I will judge each of you, O people of Israel, according to your actions, says the Sovereign Lord. Repent, and turn from your sins. Don’t let them destroy you! Put all your rebellion behind you, and find yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O people of Israel? I don’t want you to die, says the Sovereign Lord. Turn back and live!

Repent is one of those religious words that can be scary. But there’s really nothing religious about it. Repenting simply means that you change your mind. It means that you change your mind about the way you’re living, that you let go of your rebellion and live the way God wants.

God wants everyone to repent because everyone is freakin’ screwed up.

A little earlier in the same text, God says that He finds no pleasure when wicked people die. God doesn’t want anyone to die. I don’t know if we can wrap our heads around that, but that’s who He is.

This passage has so many applications, but the one I need this morning is that God is truly a God of second chances. He is a God who freely allows anyone to turn away from a lifestyle of rotten choices and turn to Him for salvation.

Anyone. Freely. And all we have to do is to accept His free gift — Christ’s sacrifice for us — and we don’t have to be judged on our actions. But if we don’t accept Christ as Lord, then all we have are our actions. But that’s a topic for another day.

Today, Election Day 2012, I needed to remember that God is merciful. And that He listens. And that He cares. And that He’s got everything under control, even when nothing seems like it’s going the way it should. By tonight, we should know who the president for the next four years will be, but whoever that is, I’m honestly not holding out a lot of hope.

No matter who wins, America is in very grave danger. Not from the economy. Not from our aging Baby Boomer generation. Not from our dependence on foreign oil. Not from terrorists. The greatest danger America faces today is America. We are slowly but surely destroying ourselves with double-mindedness, self-entitlement, and rebellion.

No matter who assumes the chair in the Oval Office in January 2013, he cannot fix our greatest problems, he cannot answer our greatest questions, he cannot give us what we need. And the plain and simple reason why? We already know how to fix our greatest problems. We already know the answer to our greatest questions. We already know what we need. And we have rejected all of it.

And if you think I’m talking to non-believers, Christians, think again.

Ezekiel was a prophet sent to Israel, the chosen people of God. God’s own people who had turned against Him. These weren’t heathen nations. These weren’t people who didn’t believe in God. These were the descendants of the ones God rescued from Egypt with His own hand.

So let Ezekiel’s message resonate with us today.

Let’s set our rebellion aside. Let’s do what we have been called to do, and that is to follow Christ. Let’s turn away from the choices we know contradict God’s Word. And let’s get down on our knees and our faces and beg God for another chance. He’s not done with us yet because we’re still here, but the time is coming when His patience is going to run out. And there are still so many people who haven’t heard the truth, who would accept it if they heard.

2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.”

God wants everyone to repent. He doesn’t want to lose one person. He’s giving everybody space and time to change, and He’s giving 21st Century American Christians the opportunity to get their heads on straight.

Obey Scripture. Do what’s right. And if you don’t know what’s right, look it up. And while you won’t be judged on your actions if you truly know Christ, when all is said and done you won’t be able to ignore Truth anymore.


I work for a plumbing, heating and pipe-joining systems manufacturer. It’s actually a really great company, and I really enjoy my work (even though it does tend to stress me out a lot of the time, but most of that is just my failing to deal with it properly). My company, Viega (pronounced VEE-guh), is honestly a pretty unique place. Once of their claims to fame is that they hold themselves to a high standard of quality in manufacturing. And, although I’ve never visited the manufacturing plants in Germany, I have seen the one in McPherson, KS, and it really is pretty incredible. Everything has a place, and everyone knows what they’re doing. And it’s so clean most of the time you could eat off the floors.

The are passionate about plumbing, which sounds really strange, but it’s true. They are devoted to quality assurance and making sure that customers get the very best products possible. I know, I know. I sound like I work in their marketing department . . . well . . . I do.  =)

But when I read the verse of the day this morning, I actually thought about Viega and their high standards of quality.

Now, maybe this is a stretch, but hear me out.

As a followers of Christ, we are supposed to live a life above reproach. We are supposed to hold ourselves to a different standard than other people who don’t believe the same way. Now, does that make us better than them? Absolutely not. All people are 100 percent equal in God’s eyes. None of us are good enough to get into heaven without Jesus’ help. But those of us who have chosen to follow Christ — who claim to be Christians — we know right from wrong, we have the power of God in our lives, and we are expected to live life the way Jesus did.

So what happens when we screw up?

It does happen, you know. A good example? If you read this blog with any consistency, you know I truly struggle with my temper against bad drivers. I just have no patience for them. Well, I don’t know what happened yesterday, but I was turning right on Maize road at Kellogg (it was near 5pm; that was my first mistake). And I waited until all the traffic turning off Kellogg had gone past, and I didn’t see anybody coming so I went. But apparently the light had turned green and the traffic from Maize on the other side of Kellogg was closing in. There was a black truck heading straight for me. So I stayed in the merge lane until he passed and jumped in right after him, flooring the gas pedal. Unfortunately, it was a little closer than I like to push it, and I might have caused the driver of the white car behind me a slight bit of distress. . . .which he gestured quite abundantly in my rearview mirror, though he didn’t even need to hit his brakes. (I felt bad about it . . . and then he swerved around me and tailgated other people in the left-hand lane until he turned off on 21st and then I didn’t feel so bad because he was obviously an impatient driver anyway . . . but that’s probably rationalizing).

So even I, who have a terrible attitude about bad drivers in Wichita, can accidentally pull out in front of somebody sometime.Everybody screws up.

What do we do? 

Colossians 3:13

13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.

As believers, we are held to a higher standard of life. We are expected to live a life that is as blameless as possible so that we can bring glory to God, but God knows we’re not perfect. And God knows that at the moment, every believer has two natures — the redeemed nature and the old black sin nature that drags us down and tempts us to sin.

We have to recognize that people sin. And we have to realize that other Christians sin. And while we are never to condone it, we also need to expect it to a certain extent. Not expect it as in, “eagerly anticipate the day when So-And-So will make a terrible mistake and commit some kind of attrocity.” No. Just understand that everyone sins. And when a Christian makes a mistake, don’t hold it against them. Forgive them. I guarantee that whatever they’ve done isn’t as bad as what you’ve done.

And half the time, you don’t even know what’s going on. You may perceive something as a sin, and it might not be. After all, we’re not the ones to judge sin. The Bible is.

It’s our job to love. That means forgiving people. That means understanding that although we believers ought to live a life above reproach, there are moments in every Christian’s life when we will be less than perfect.

However, there’s a big difference between sinning once and repenting (which is just a fancy religious word for being truly sorry and purposing never to do it again) and sinning repeatedly. Repeated sin is rebellion, especially when it’s coming from a Christian who knows better. And that’s a different topic altogether.

But, Christians, we all need to get along. We’re family, after all. And we’re going to spend eternity together. So when your brother or sister makes a mistake, don’t be so hard on them. Don’t lecture them on what they’ve done wrong. Don’t keep bringing it up time and time again. Don’t hold it over their head, and don’t put them on guilt trips about it. Just forgive them. Then do your best to forget it and keep loving them. Encourage them. Help them. Hold them up. Build them up.

I guarantee that sort of response will be more beneficial than a lecture anyway.


I don’t usually do this. But this morning I was so caught up in blogging about the first part of 1 John 1:9 that I totally ignored the last part of the verse.

And the last part of the verse is the most important.

9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.

If we confess.

If we say we’re sorry and we meant it and we repent and turn from the bad things that we’re doing . . . .

God is faithful.

If we confess, He’s faithful. He won’t turn us away. He won’t scorn us. He won’t reject us. No matter how far away we have fallen from Him, He is always faithful to us.

He is faithful to forgive us.

How? Because He’s perfect.

Why do you have to apologize the person you’ve wronged? Because you are the one who’s done wrong. You are the one who needs to be forgiven for something you’ve done or said. You have to ask forgiveness of the innocent person you’ve hurt.

We have all turned against God. To be forgiven, we have to ask for it.

And not only will He forgive us, He’ll restore us.

Getting to the point where you’re willing to confess is important, but knowing that God will forgive you no matter what is even more important.

And I just thought I needed to mention that.