Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Most Read Post of 2014: #2 Emotions Are So Unreasonable

By Allen White

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Matthew 26:36-38

Death is not a normal thing to volunteer for. Jesus spoke of His mission on this earth over and over with His disciples. Jesus knew that the end of His mission would result in death. But, even for our All-Knowing God, Jesus had never personally experienced sin and death. His Divine mission was confronted with a strong human reaction.

Jesus took Peter, James and John, His inner circle, a little further into the garden. He knew that His betrayal would happen sooner rather than later. He asked them to keep watch while He prepared Himself in prayer.

Jesus was overwhelmed. The Son of God, the Master and Creator of the Universe, the Savior of the world was overwhelmed. And, He should have been.

Emotions are just so unreasonable. Our emotions motivate us toward things that defy our logic. Some of us were even taught that emotions were scary or bad or both. But, emotion is a part of who we are.

No one should feel okay at a loved one’s funeral. We should grieve. Everyone should feel overwhelming joy and excitement on their wedding day. And, there are days when the circumstances of our life are completely overwhelming. There’s only one place to go on those days.

Jesus, being fully human and also fully God, was overwhelmed. With His disciples keeping watch, He chose to go by Himself and to connect with the Father. No person would understand His plight. No amount of ranting and raving would cure what ailed Him that day. Only a connection with the One who completely understood Him and His circumstance would help.

Where do you go when you are overwhelmed? Do you escape into a bad habit? Do you go to bed? Do you go ballistic? There is only One Person in your life that can take what you’re dealing with, and it’s also the only Person who will fully understand – your Heavenly Father.

God is not surprised by your circumstance. God wired you to feel what you feel. When you are completely overwhelmed, He completely understands.

What are you feeling overwhelmed by today? It’s time to get alone with the One who understands.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Most Read Post of 2014: #3 What If We Stopped Complaining?

By Allen White

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. Philippians 2:14-16

For some of us, these verses seem impossible. Grumbling and complaining might feel like breathing. Or, if it’s not a complaint, it comes out as sarcasm. Whether our snide remarks are resentful or recreational, they reflect the condition of our hearts.

Grumbling and complaining comes from the simple fact that the world is not as we think it should be. Whether our expectations are realistic or not, when our lives don’t measure up to our expectations, we grumble and complain. When our lives are less than what we think they should be, we grow resentful and sometimes angry.

The problem, according to this passage, is that grumbling and arguing are obstacles to becoming blameless and pure. The ugliness of our attitudes corrupts the purity of our souls. When we are saved, God declares us to be righteous (Romans 4:5) and purifies our hearts (Hebrews 10:21-22). Negative attitudes can pollute what God has purified.

Sometimes we excuse our attitudes, because of the world that we live in and what we have to deal with. The world is an unfair and an unjust place. Just watch the evening news – there’s plenty to be bitter about. Just look at how people treat each other – there’s plenty to resent.

Don’t you find it odd that the first century A.D. was regarded as “warped and crooked”? If that generation was warped and crooked, then what does that make our generation? They didn’t even have Lady Gaga back then.

Paul wrote this letter to the Philippians from prison. That wasn’t fair. Why wasn’t Paul bitter? Paul knew, as we know, that neither people nor evil are ultimately in charge of the universe. God is.

One day, every wrong will be righted (Revelation 19:11). One day, justice will prevail and evil will disappear (Revelation 20:10). Until that day, we must choose to trust that God loves us, He has a plan for us, and He knows what we’re dealing with. If we choose to trust rather than complain, then we “shine among them like stars in the sky.” 

What are you known for these days – the light of Christ or grumbling and complaining? Complaining is really just a bad habit. There are times to bring things up. But, if the person that we’re talking to is not part of the problem or part of the solution, then it’s just grumbling and gossip.

It’s our choice to either become blameless, pure and bright or grumbling, complaining and dull. God will help us shine like stars. If we choose the other path, we’re on our own, consequences and all.

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Monday, December 29, 2014

Most Read Post of 2014: #4 Getting What You Deserve

By Allen White

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times. Micah 5:2 (NIV) 

God delights in the obscure and the humble. Bethlehem wasn’t the big city. In fact, for Joseph and his family, Bethlehem was a good place to be from. The town was important for Joseph’s ancestral heritage. But, that’s about where Bethlehem’s importance ended for them.

Lowly Bethlehem was much like its most famous resident: King David (Luke 2:4). When Samuel, the prophet, approached Jesse’s family to anoint the new king of Israel, Jesse lined up all of his sons. Well, almost all of them. Jesse presented the top seven of his sons anyway, but “Samuel said to him, ‘The LORD has not chosen these.’” (1 Samuel 16:10).

“So he asked Jesse, ‘Are these all the sons you have?’

“‘There is still the youngest, Jesse answered, "but he is tending the sheep’" (1 Samuel 16:11).
David wasn’t his father’s choice for king. In fact, David wasn’t even considered a possibility in his father’s mind. David was tending the sheep. Yet, this humble shepherd became the king of Israel and the great, great, great, great…grandfather of the King of kings.

Jesus was born in humble circumstances. Not only was his birthplace in a small town, he was born in a stable in a small town. Jesus was born into a working class family that didn’t have a lot of money. We don’t even know that Jesus received a formal education. From a worldly point of view, Jesus really wasn’t set up for success. These were humble circumstances for the Son of God, the Savior of the world.

God’s power doesn’t need a “leg up” from our social standing, education, wealth or pride. In fact, God’s power is clearly demonstrated in weakness, not in high stature. When we see God use a person who we might not expect Him to use, then we can see God’s hand very clearly. When we humbly submit ourselves to Him, and He allows opportunities or gives insights into situations we wouldn’t have on our own, we know that God is working in us.

How is your heart inclined today? Are you working hard to promote yourself or to humble yourself? A clear indicator is what you feel that you deserve right now. The less deserving we feel, the more humble we are becoming.

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Sunday, December 28, 2014

Most Read Post of 2014: #5 The Anxiety Cure

By Allen White 

Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.Proverbs 12:25 

Why do we feel so anxious? Anxiety is tied to the future. We’re not anxious about our past. After all, if we are anxious someone might find out something about our past, that’s actually a future concern. Past is past.

Anxiety is a problem with our future. “I don’t know if I can get all of my work done.” “I don’t know if my kids will turn out well.” “I don’t know where I’ll be a year from now.” “I don’t know if I’ll still have my job.” Anxiety weighs us down.

Research shows by rehearsing these anxious thoughts, we actually put ourselves through the same physiological process as if we’re actually experiencing the problem. If we worry about getting fired, we go through the same stress, emotions, and physical symptoms as if we just received our pink slip. In fact, getting fired might actually come as a relief!

No one has exact certainty regarding his/her future. We can plan. We can work. We can hope, and we can worry. But, worry doesn’t promise a positive outcome. In fact, worry might take us the other direction. Now, there’s one more thing to worry about.

If anxiety weighs down, then a kind word cheers up. Here’s the kind word: there is Someone who knows your entire future – God. Before you were born, God knew you and the path you would take. God is never surprised or worried about what happens to you. He already knows.

Not only does God know our future, He has a plan for us. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” God has got things under control, and He is leading us toward a positive result.

Above all else, God loves us. He loves us enough to not leave us with poor character or a defeating circumstance. What He won’t deliver us from He will walk us through, and it will develop our character in the process.

Cheer up. God is on your side. And, if God is for us, then who can be against us?

God knows the future. He knows everything planned for today, and tomorrow, and every day after that. Once the issue you face is resolved, God also knows the peace you will experience. And, here’s the great thing about God, if we follow His instructions in Philippians 4:6-7, we can have that peace now. We don’t have to wait.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7). Follow these words to cheer your heart and lift your burden.

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Thursday, December 25, 2014

12 Things God Has Promised You Today

By Allen White

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. Colossians 1:9-20 (NIV)

Consider how much God love us and how much He gave to secure our salvation. What we have been given by all accounts is improbable, unlikely and certainly unbelievable.

As we round out this year, maybe you don’t feel you’ve accomplished enough. Maybe you don’t really feel like you matter. You do. Look what God thinks of you!

Look at all of the things that have been promised in this passage:

Knowledge of His will
Spiritual Wisdom and Understanding
Great endurance
Joyfully thanksgiving

Which of those words or phrases best describes the quality of your connection with God? Which stands out as a growth area? Right now, stop and ask God to bring that particular promise into fulfillment in your life. It may take time, but this is how God wants you to live. With the “power according to his glorious might” it can be done.

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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

What Makes You Eager?

By Allen White

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. Titus 2:11-14 (NIV)

What are you eager to do? This week my kids were eager to tear into Christmas presents. Well, to be honest, I was eager to do that too. What are you eager to do?

Some people are eager to make money. Others are eager to connect with friends. Some are eager to avoid pain. The rest are just eager to make it to the end of this week, month or year. (This week is actually the end of all three). Jesus desires a people who are eager to do what is good.

Now, before we start having flashbacks of all of the angry preachers who told us that we were bad and undeserving of Heaven, even though we had walked the aisle many times before, let’s look back at the passage.
Jesus gave himself to redeem us and to purify us. If we could redeem and purify ourselves, then Jesus’ sacrifice would be for nothing. There really is nothing that you or I can add to that. Jesus did it for us. But, what about the eagerness?

Being eager is really an innate sort of thing. You can’t work yourself up to being eager. You’re either eager or you’re not. “But, what if I’m not eager to do good? What does that mean about my relationship with God?” Honestly, it probably means that you’re distracted. The only way to gain God’s eagerness is to stop long enough to hear from Him.

So, right now, I would like you to stop what you’re doing…for two minutes. Say nothing. Do nothing. Just center yourself on God. Check your watch. Go. And, listen to what He has to say.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Listen to What God Thinks

By Allen White

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.

 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will, but born of God.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:1-18 (NIV)

Writing at the close of the first century, John had plenty of time to reflect on the circumstances and events involving his friend and Savior, Jesus. Sixty or so years had certainly given John perspective about what this baby in the manger meant to the world. While the earlier Gospel writers, Matthew and Luke, give us the accounts of Jesus’ birth, John starts with a highly theological introduction. (It makes you wonder why we encourage new believers to read the Gospel of John first. Seriously.)

John doesn’t refer to Jesus by name in this passage. He calls Jesus “The Word.” It’s interesting that John chooses this title for his friend. But, consider the power of God’s Word. Creation came into existence through the Word (Genesis 1:3ff). The Bible tells us that the evidence of God’s existence is clear through His creation (Romans 1:19-20). According to John and the rest of Scripture, the Word had a role in creation.

God proclaimed His Word through prophets. John the Baptist was the last of these. When His people refused to listen to His prophets, God sent His Son (Hebrews 1:1-4). The Word became flesh and lived among us. Sometimes it’s easier to learn by example than by lecture. In Jesus, the Word, we witness an “exact representation” of God (Hebrews 1:3).

If you want to know what God thinks, listen to Jesus. If you want to know how God acts, look at Jesus. If you want to see how God loves, look at Jesus on the cross. Then remember that Jesus lives in you.

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Monday, December 22, 2014

Historical Proof of Jesus' Birth

By Allen White

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.

 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. Luke 2:1-20 (NIV)

Over the course of my life, I think I’ve heard these words recited mostly by Linus on A Charlie Brown Christmas. Though Linus chose to recite from the Authorized Version, the words are very familiar.

One outstanding feature of this passage is that it is historical as well as theological. The events really happened with real people.

As archeologists sift through ancient debris in the Holy Land, they have discovered that Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus ruled from 31 BC to 14 AD ( Without his decree, Mary and Joseph wouldn’t have traveled to Bethlehem, Joseph’s ancestral home. There was no other reason to make this trip with a pregnant wife. Caesar Augustus unknowingly fulfilled a prophecy regarding the Messiah (Micah 5:1-2).

Publius Sulpicius Quirinius (45 BC – 21 AD) was a Roman Senator and the governor of Syria ( While Quirinius was made famous by his mention in Luke 2, he had many other political and military accomplishments to his name that are well documented in history.

There is so much that could be said about this passage. Every angle gives us a new perspective. But, the most important part of this is what is true in your life because of this account. A baby arrived in a stable over 2000 years ago. How are you different because of Him?

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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Aligning with God's Agenda

By Allen White
Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan-

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.

You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as men rejoice when dividing the plunder. For as in the day of Midian's defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. Every warrior's boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire.

For to us a child is born,   to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:1-6 (NIV)

We can only understand prophecy in the context of when and where it was given. This prophecy, along with the first 39 chapters of Isaiah, was given around 700 BC. Israel was in a bad place as a nation. Enemies had overrun the land. For example, Zebulun (1 Kings 4:16) and Naphtali were in captivity at this writing. Gloom and doom were the order of the day.

What was happening to Israel was not God’s fault. It wasn’t some rogue nation’s fault either. What was happening to Israel was Israel’s fault. As one commentator puts it, “Israel had eliminated itself from God’s agenda.” The result was judgment and cleansing.

For those who feel that God might have given up, listen to the promises from this passage. God offers freedom, just like He gave Midian (Judges 7). He promises to end the war against evil. He promised restoration to the House of David, which ultimately gave us the Savior and our restoration as well. God’s agenda was still moving ahead. Israel just wasn’t on that agenda at that moment.

Where are you in relation to God’s agenda? Are you and God on the same page? Do you know God’s agenda? These are tough questions. You and I have both fallen short. That doesn’t eliminate us from God’s agenda. The question really is: Are you seeking God and asking to be a part of what He is doing?

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Friday, December 19, 2014

Christmas meets Star Wars

By Allen White

Then I witnessed in heaven an event of great significance. I saw a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon beneath her feet, and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant, and she cried out because of her labor pains and the agony of giving birth.

 Then I witnessed in heaven another significant event. I saw a large red dragon with seven heads and ten horns, with seven crowns on his heads. His tail swept away one-third of the stars in the sky, and he threw them to the earth. He stood in front of the woman as she was about to give birth, ready to devour her baby as soon as it was born.

She gave birth to a son who was to rule all nations with an iron rod. And her child was snatched away from the dragon and was caught up to God and to his throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where God had prepared a place to care for her for 1,260 days.

Then there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels. And the dragon lost the battle, and he and his angels were forced out of heaven. This great dragon—the ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, the one deceiving the whole world—was thrown down to the earth with all his angels.
Then I heard a loud voice shouting across the heavens, “It has come at last—salvation and power and the Kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down to earth—the one who accuses them before our God day and night. Revelation 12:1-10 (NLT)

At this point, you probably think that I’ve made a wrong turn in my Bible. This doesn’t sound like the Christmas story at all. This sounds more like a Frank Peretti novel.

The book of Revelation was written at an important time for the Church. At the end of the First century A.D., the Church was suffering great persecution. For a new movement of God, they experienced tremendous hardship and feared for their lives. In the middle of this situation, God gave John a Revelation on the Isle of Patmos.

Revelation portrays a cosmic battle of good and evil, just like other apocalyptic literature of the day. The Church needed a powerful story. The Church needed to know that good would overcome evil, because at that time the opposite seemed true.

Some preachers have made entire careers out of what the Book of Revelation means and when everything is going to happen. I’m not sure that is the purpose of the book. But, we can know two things for certain: The end will come, and Good will win. That’s all I really need to know.

Now, what about the Christmas story? Go back and read this Revelation story again. I think you’ll see what Jesus’ coming stirred up.

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