Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Old, Old Story is Not New or Shiny

By Allen White

Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. Colossians 2:8 (NLT)

Our attention spans are growing shorter by the day. Right now, the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is getting old. We have been bombarded with 24 hour news coverage. Our television screens are filled with commentators commenting, experts expounding, oil gushing and no clear answer in sight. While, yes, this is one of the worst ecological disasters in history, it has been over 80 days now, and to be honest, we’re ready to move on to something else. We care. We’re just tired of hearing about it.

Are we jaded? Are we uncaring? No, we’re just oversaturated. Considering that we can’t actually do anything about the spill, it’s just too much to keep thinking about every day. Today, we can change the channel about 500 times and watch something else.

We’ve come a long way. I remember in the summer of 1973 sitting at the babysitter’s house with nothing to watch on all three channels (yes three) except the Watergate Hearings. No Price is Right. No Matchgame ’73. No Sesame Street. Just all Watergate all of the time. The nation was captivated by the downfall of a president. There was nothing else worth watching.

But, today, while every other nation in the world closes shop for the World Cup, we pause to consider purchasing a vuvuzela, then surf to the next channel.

In a society with a short attention span, it’s easy to be distracted by the new and shiny things. How do we center our lives on the Old, Old Story? It’s not new or shiny.

Everything new is not bad. It’s just too much. Once upon a time, news traveled slowly by horseback or by telegraph wire which would appear in the next day’s paper. Today, if the news channels don’t update election results quickly enough, then we can surf over to the Secretary of State’s website. More often than not, we read the breaking news on Twitter before we ever see it on TV or even CNN’s website.

The nature of our news has changed as well. We’re not just told what happen, we’re also told what to think about it. We don’t really have to think for ourselves anymore. The news commentators tell us what it means and why it’s right or wrong. We used to call this “yellow journalism” when opinion would bleed over into the news report. Today, we just call it journalism.

Who are we allowing to think for us? We certainly can’t think about all of the things that are thrown at us constantly. What used to be given as “food for thought” has in a large part become our thoughts. But, how much of it would be categorized as “empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense”?

No wonder it’s difficult to hear from God at times. We have so many inputs into our lives than we don’t need to hear from anyone else, including Him.

So, here’s a challenge: unplug. Probably not for the rest of your life, but for a week. If you’re headed out for vacation, leave your TV off and your laptop at home. Rather than listening to the “Great American Panel,” go for a walk and listen to our Deliverer.

It’s easy to get caught up in the thinking of this world. It’s also easy to become overwhelmed by everything that’s going on. Why not make your morning newspaper, news show, new site or twitter feed your prayer list? God can handle everything that’s thrown at us.

To make a tax deductible donation to Galatians 4:19 Ministries:

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The Geek Squad or the Genius Bar?

By Allen White

I want you to know how much I have agonized for you and for the church at Laodicea, and for many other believers who have never met me personally. I want them to be encouraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have complete confidence that they understand God’s mysterious plan, which is Christ himself. In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I am telling you this so no one will deceive you with well-crafted arguments. For though I am far away from you, my heart is with you. And I rejoice that you are living as you should and that your faith in Christ is strong. And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Colossians 2:1-7 (NLT)

Who is the wisest person you know? What makes them wise? Have they studied well? Have they been kicked around the block a few times? Have they produced a string of successes?

The wisest person you know only possesses a small segment of wisdom and knowledge compared to Christ. All of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge lie hidden in Christ. But, why are they hidden?

Wisdom and knowledge are only hidden from those who don’t belong to Christ. Once they belong to Christ, it’s no longer hidden. Unspiritual people can’t understand spiritual things (1 Corinthians 2:14). The Bible also teaches us that fear or respect for the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10).

God’s Word doesn’t tell us everything that we want to know, but it does give us everything that we need to know. Life confronts us with some big questions. Why do bad things happen to good people? (Hint: Bad things happen to everybody). If God is all-powerful and is good, why does evil exist? Good question. (You’ll need to sign up for The Truth Project at BrookwoodU for that one.) Did Adam have a belly button? We have a lot of serious questions.

Roots that grow down into Christ become mighty oaks. Lives built on the foundation of Christ prove to be unshakeable. Decisions based on God’s Word in a relationship with Christ help us succeed in developing godly character and building God’s Kingdom. But, don’t get me wrong, every decision that we pray about won’t automatically become a success. God is more concerned about Christ being formed in us than whether we turn a profit (Romans 8:28).

Where do we find ourselves turning for answers? If we have a headache, we head to the medicine cabinet. If we have a computer problem, we call the Geek Squad or head to the Genius Bar. If we’re short on funds, we rely on our credit cards. If we need a job, we surf over to There’s nothing wrong with any of these things in and of themselves. But, when do we turn to God?

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33

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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Will You Sweat for God?

By Allen White

Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.
Colossians 1:24-29

Is there a cause that you would die for? Paul went to great lengths to proclaim the mystery of the Gospel, and He suffered for it greatly. What would our commitment to Christ look like if we truly had to suffer for it? Now, I know that some believe that we are suffering under the Obama administration, but our current situation pales in comparison to the Roman government. The Romans weren’t Paul’s only concern. The Jewish leaders also caused a great deal of trouble for him.

We can sit back now and read Paul’s eloquent words and follow his journeys on the maps in the back of our Bibles, but the memory of the personal price he paid has been diluted over time. He recounts his beatings, arrests and other punishments in his letter to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 11:23-28), yet his constant ambition was to present the Gospel where no one had heard the message (Romans 15:20). Nothing deterred Paul. In fact, the persecution he faced helped him identify more closely with Christ.

How would we do under Paul’s circumstances? Would we face persecution for our faith? Honestly, most of us would debate whether to sweat for our faith let alone die for it. And, there’s a very good reason for our attitude: we’ve forgotten what it’s like to see someone cross from death over to life.

We go to church, yes. Some go to worship. Many go out of obligation. The rest are somewhere in between. But, have we forgotten that this mystery of the Gospel that the prophets longed to see is the greatest power in the universe? Have we become so accepting of others seeking their own path and going their own way that we’re comfortable with their personal preference to head straight to Hell?

I’m not an evangelist. I never liked knocking on doors or standing on street corners. I’d rather have a root canal. But, a couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of praying with someone to receive Christ. Even though we prayed over the phone, to witness someone going from confusion and distress to overwhelming joy was something to behold. That next Sunday everyone from Guest Services to the Safety Team was searching for me. The gal I prayed with just had to meet me. It didn’t take much coaxing for her to cross the line of faith. She just needed to be invited.

What did that cost me? Well, a week of telephone tag, but that’s all. What did it give me? It gave me a glimpse at what I experienced long ago. It showed me what serving Christ is all about.

Your phone may not be ringing off the hook with sinners seeking sainthood. But, you can experience the miracle of new life at a baptism service (you might have to sweat outdoors though).

Beyond that, my challenge to you is to invite God to use you. When you are available to God, He will use you. When you’re not open, He won’t. Once you’ve made yourself available, pay attention to who God brings into your path. Their salvation is not up to you. That’s Jesus’ job. You don’t need to be the closer: “What do I need to do to give you a Savior today?” You answer their questions. You help them. You offer to pray for their needs. You let Jesus live in you and through you. Then, see what happens.

To make a tax deductible donation to Galatians 4:19 Ministries:

Monday, April 25, 2016

Don’t Rock the Boat

By Allen White

[Martha] had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said.  Luke 10:39

After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, "I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me."

 His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, "Ask him which one he means." John 13:21-24

John was the disciple “whom Jesus loved,” but John never refers to himself by name in his Gospel. The similarity between John and Mary is that they both just wanted to be with Jesus. They were both reclining next to Jesus. They’re not in a hurry. They’re not worried about everything else that’s going on. The impression is that they are pretty easy to be with. Not questioning. Not demanding. Just there.

I call this personality the Peacekeeper. I didn’t say peacemaker, you have to take pretty serious action to make peace. The peacekeepers motto is “Don’t rock the boat.” They are concerned about how everybody is doing. They don’t want to upset other people unnecessarily, which usually means that they don’t want to upset anyone at all.

I have a friend in California who is a wonderful Peacekeeper. She is well beyond retirement age, but just can’t retire. When we were planning a trip for our senior adults up to the gold country, I mentioned a certain Italian restaurant that I wanted to try. She recommended another restaurant. She won.

As about 30 of us sat around a big table, I heard my friend remarked, “Isn’t this nice? Everyone found something that they liked.” That’s the heart of a Peacekeeper. They want to make sure that everyone is included and that no one is left out.

Now Peacekeepers might have trouble making decisions because if they decide against someone, then they might hurt their feelings. Peacekeepers also need deadlines. Their relaxed, laid back personalities are prone to take their time.

Now don’t get me wrong on any of these personalities. No one is purely made up of any one personality type. In fact all of us have some combination of all four that I’ve mentioned this week. Attila the Hun can be kind because there is a little Promoter and a little Peacekeeper even in him. He might have to go lay down afterward, but he can do it.

Peacekeepers are wonderful listeners. But, we must be careful not to overload them. While they are very peaceful and easy to talk to, it’s also easy to overwhelm them with our problems and rock their boats internally. It’s important for Peacekeepers, just like everybody else, to maintain their boundaries and not take on everybody’s problems.

Who’s the Peacekeeper in your life? Are you rocking their boat? Are you listening to them? The Peacekeeper in a family or organization has a better grasp of how everyone else is doing. They know the temperature of the environment. Check in with them.

To make a tax deductible donation to Galatians 4:19 Ministries:

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Are you Martha, Martha, Martha?

By Allen White

Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.  Luke 1:1-4

But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!"

 "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things.” Luke 10:40-41

Martha, Martha, Martha wanted to make sure that everything was done just right. She was so busy with the preparations, she couldn’t focus on spending time with Jesus. Now, my suspicion is that Martha wanted to be in the room with Jesus, but she couldn’t let herself sit down until all of the work was done. If Mary would just come in and help, the work would be done, then Martha could relax.

Luke was a physician. Even though Mark and Matthew had already written their Gospels, Luke set out to research everything for himself to “write an orderly account.” He also wrote The Acts of the Apostles as volume two.

I refer to this personality as the Planner. The Planner’s motto is “a place for everything and everything in its place.”  If your garage is immaculate or you have labels on drawers and cabinets describing what’s in them, you are a Planner.

Planners thrive on details. Where the Producer can say, “It’s good enough” and the Promoter can say, “Whatever, let’s have fun,” the Planner makes sure everything is done with excellence.

To encourage a Planner, mention specific things about what they’ve accomplished. Rather than saying “good job.” Say something like “I really like the way that you took special care in making sure that the colors matched or everything was organized so well down to the alphabetized name tags.”

The downside of the Planner personality is that they can tend to be negative and critical. Since they are striving for excellence, things that are less than excellent stick out like a sore thumb to them. This doesn’t give them permission to exercise some spiritual gift of criticism (there’s no such thing). Planners need to be cautious in looking at the world as if it’s a glass half empty.

Planners like a great deal of detail. While Promoters want stories and Producers want the bottom line, Planners want all of the information. In fact, when I teach about personality types, I usually have a packet of information that I give out at the end of the class to all of the Planners because I know that I didn’t cover things thoroughly enough for them.

If you have a Planner in your life, be eager to build them up. Be very cautious about criticizing them. They are critical enough of themselves already.

Who’s the Planner in your life? Take notice of the special care that they have put into what they have accomplished. Appreciate them specifically.

To make a tax deductible donation to Galatians 4:19 Ministries:

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Are You the Driver?

By Allen White

It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else's foundation.
Romans 15:20

The Apostle Paul was a take no prisoners kind of guy. He zealously persecuted the church (Acts 22:3-5), and he zealously proclaimed the Gospel. Paul’s ambition was to break new ground. While he sent letters back to churches to address their problems, Paul didn’t visit many places more than once. There was too much to accomplish. In fact, if Paul had never been in prison, I somehow doubt that much of the New Testament would have even been written.

People like Paul are what I call Producers. When they say, “Lead, follow or get out of the way,” they really just want you to get out of the way. Paul had no patience for John Mark when JM waffled on his commitment (Acts 15:36-41). Producers want action. “Fish or cut bait.” (What does that even mean?) “Get to the bottom line.”

Producers are concerned about results. Now in the pursuit of results they also can steamroll over everyone else without even thinking about it. Producers will say that they would rather be respected than liked. But, it’s actually good to be respected AND liked.

I am mostly a Producer personality. So, here’s the funny thing: God took someone with the personality of Attila the Hun and gave him the spiritual gift of pastor. It’s unusual. It’s ironic. But, here’s the beauty of it—when God uses me to direct or encourage another person, I know for certain that it’s God working in me and through me. It doesn’t come naturally, that’s for sure.

While Producers can be driven and often impatient, our natural personality is not an excuse for bad behavior. As we allow God to work in us, then verses like Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you,” don’t seem so impossible.

If you have a Producer in your life, do your best to get to the point. They want the straight stuff. You don’t need to beat around the bush. If you do take a circular path, they will spend the whole conversation trying to figure out what you’re getting at or just stop listening altogether and start thinking about something else until your done.

When I was in seminary, I worked as a front desk clerk at Howard Johnson. I still crave those clam strips every once in a while. One Christmas we did a gift exchange with the staff. A bellman had my name. He gave me a mug that said, “If you’ll state your business and walk away quietly, then no one will get hurt.” That was a Producer’s mug if I ever saw one.

Please don’t misunderstand Producers. They want to help. They want to work for the good of other people. Sometimes other people just get in their way. Don’t allow them to get away with bad behavior, but also don’t frustrate them.

Who’s the Producer in your life? What do you understand about them now that you might not have understood about them before?

For more information on this personality type and how God can use you to serve others, I would encourage you to check out our P.L.A.C.E. class:
To make a tax deductible donation to Galatians 4:19 Ministries:

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Are You the Life of the Party?

By Allen White

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. "Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to you!"

 Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."  Matthew 16:21-23

Peter was an impulsive person. He was the one who jumped out of the boat to walk to water (Matthew 14:28-31). Peter’s the one who raised his sword to cut off Malcus’ ear at Gethsemane (John 18:10). Peter was the one who wanted to build a shrine at the site of the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:4). Jesus said that Peter was a rock (Matthew 16:18). Really, Peter was more of a flake. Then just a few verses later, Peter the rock was a stumbling block.

In this passage, Peter boldly proclaimed that he would never allow the religious leaders to take Jesus and kill Him. Peter wouldn’t stand for it. Everything in Peter wanted to take a bold stand for Christ, but he ended up denying Jesus three times in the courtyard (Matthew 26:69-75).

Something happened to Peter on the Day of Pentecost. In Acts 2, we see that when the people from various nations wanted an explanation for the miracle that they had just witnessed, Peter jumped up and began to preach. He didn’t worry about creating an outline or handing out sermon notes. Peter just opened his mouth and went for it. Three thousand people were saved that day. It was the right bold move on the right day.

I call this personality “The Promoter.” He is the life of the party. She has an idea a minute. He’s never met a stranger. She has great ambition, but has trouble following through.

The Promoter gets accused of being flakey, because when they are expected to act on the first idea, they are already thinking about the next idea. Promoters bring great energy into a situation. They excel at brainstorms. But, they have trouble following through.

If you have a Promoter in your life, don’t bore them. Tell them stories. Don’t just bark out orders. If you want something done, they will need a deadline. If they still have trouble producing, they might need some help.

While we need to have understanding of each other, a personality type is not an excuse for bad behavior. “Well, Promoters are more social, so they socialize a lot and don’t get their work done.” We all need accountability. We are all responsible to fulfill the things that we’ve committed to. Maybe we need to take a Promoter’s commitments with a grain of salt.

Every person, regardless of their personality, has plenty of room to grow. As we surrender our whole selves to God, He will strengthen our strengths and challenge us in our growth areas.

Are you a Promoter? Who are the Promoters that you know? What new insight do you have into these folks now?

If you would like to discover more about core personalities, I would recommend a book by my friend, Vicki Barnes called The Real You.

To make a tax deductible donation to Galatians 4:19 Ministries:

Monday, April 18, 2016

Sometimes Christian Things Get in God’s Way

By Allen White

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.  Colossians 1:21-23

Couples who celebrate golden anniversaries are the ones that stayed married. Graduates who receive their diplomas are the ones who completed the coursework. Employees who receive a gold watch and possibly preferred parking are the ones who stayed with the company through thick and thin. Well, at least that’s the way that it used to be.

Now, employees who run the distance are not only dedicated, but they also have employers who won’t offshore their jobs. Educational standards aren’t what they used to be. As long as you pay your tuition, more than likely you will end up with a piece of paper. Then, there’s marriage. Now a days it seems that as soon as spouses decide that they’re unhappy, well that’s the end of that. When did we begin to settle for such mediocrity? It’s clear that what has become acceptable in the world is still not acceptable among God’s people.

We started out as God’s enemies who were alienated from Him because of our evil behavior. Then, God provided His Son to pay the price, so that we can be reconciled. God’s heart is always toward reconciliation.

Not only did God provide the way for a relationship with Him, He also did things for us that we couldn’t possibly do for ourselves. He made us holy in his sight, without blemish, and free from accusation. When we look at ourselves, we quickly discover that we are none of those things. If we’re holy and without blemish, then why do our minds wander to the places that they go at times? Why do we plot revenge? Why do we harbor resentment?

Paul goes on to say that we are free from accusation. But, we have an accuser who is regularly reminding us of how bad we are (Revelation 12:10). Just when we think that God could use us, the enemy is right there to remind us about how terrible we are.

But, these aren’t things that we have to work up. A holy, blemish-free, accusation-free life comes from God. He gives it to us. We don’t have to work for it. But, are required to do one thing: not quit. Whether you believe that continuing in the faith is optional or mandatory, what we see here is that continuing is the requisite of everything else.

We have a poster in our home that was displayed in many households during World War II. It is a simple light blue poster with the words: “Keep Calm and Carry On.” (The Pixar counterpart to this is Dorie’s line from Finding Nemo, “Just keep swimming.”) When things are not going well? Keep calm and carry on. When things are falling apart? Just keep swimming.

Life presents us with many tests. At times it feels that some of these tests just might destroy us. God’s purpose is not to destroy us, but his purpose is to break us. He wants to remove everything that is interfering with our relationship with Him. All of these Christian things that we add on to our faith get in the way. God is a jealous God. He wants us to only long for Him. Then, He will provide everything that we need to carry on in the faith.

To make a tax deductible donation to Galatians 4:19 Ministries:

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Was Jesus Created?

By Allen White

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 1:15-20

The idea of Jesus being the “firstborn over all creation” is a little confusing, especially when you consider that God is three in one (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) (Matthew 28:19-20) and that God doesn’t change (Malachi 3:6; James 1:17). So, let’s look at the context of this passage.

The Colossian church held a belief that spirit is good and matter (stuff) is evil. Without getting too deep here, this belief basically made an excuse for why people are sinful. They held that the spirit is the only part that is eternal. It’s the only part going to Heaven. The spirit is our good part. So, according to this belief, the body was the bad part. They sinned because that’s what their bodies did. Bad body. Shame on you body. But, the body was going to burn anyway, so it didn’t matter. The body couldn’t taint the spirit, so their actions were justified and their souls were saved.

There are many problems with this belief. First, we are whole beings. Sure there is a difference between the physical and spiritual parts of our being, but it’s all connected. We can get ulcers worrying about something that will never happen. Our brains are actually physically configured according to our thought patterns. We are an entire being, not just the sum of our parts.

The second problem here is that everything that God made was good (Genesis 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31). Jesus was not part of that creation. Jesus was the Creator. The idea of “firstborn” has more to do with Christ’s authority over creation. Just like a firstborn prince would have authority over his father’s kingdom, Jesus is equal to God Himself and has authority over everything.

If anyone needed proof that Jesus was exactly who He said He was, the Son of God, this is the passage that proves it. Paul doesn’t pull any punches here.

So, what does this mean for those of us who aren’t struggling with Docetism or Gnosticism? Simply put, Jesus is more powerful than any other force in the universe. Whatever scares us, whatever worries us, or whatever threatens us is under the authority of Christ. Here’s the great thing about that: Jesus Christ lives in everyone who belongs to Him.

What are you up against today? What threatens you? What worries you? Turn it over to Jesus. He has the power to make a difference.

To make a tax deductible donation to Galatians 4:19 Ministries:

Friday, April 15, 2016

God Likes Variety

By Allen White

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:8-11

God enjoys variety. I stopped at the ATM this morning. As I was making my transaction, I noticed a brightly colored bug on the ATM machine. It had bands of orange and yellow on its back. But, they weren’t stripes. It was almost like microscopic mosaic tiles laid out in an intricate pattern.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a big fan of entomology. My role is usually to kill the bug or get rid of it (read: kill it outside). I don’t spend a lot of time studying them. Why did God spend so much time creating a beautiful design on a bug that I would ultimately squish?

So , think about all of the people that bug you (sorry, I couldn’t resist). Some people are just strange. They act strange. They look strange. They’re just strange. Normal people are the people who look like me. We act normal. We look normal. But, we are strange to the people who are strange to us.

Differences cause us to grow. I hate to admit that because there are some days that I really don’t want to grow. But, this is true whether I like it or not. If you don’t like it, then this is YOUR opportunity to grow.

Growth doesn’t sprout from misery or hopelessness or depression. Growth can happen anywhere but it requires grace, hope and affection.

Peter writes, “Love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” When you first start a romantic relationship with someone, you look at all of the similarities. “We like the same movies. We use the same toothpaste. We enjoy the same Bible translation…” Once we’re married, suddenly all of the differences are front and center. “He won’t put the seat down. She puts the toilet paper under not over. He squeezes the toothpaste. She wants to talk. He wants to veg.”

Eugene Peterson puts it this way in the Message, “Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything” (1 Peter 4:8). Now, you might be saying, “I don’t have that much love.” Here’s the great thing. God does.

It takes more than what we have to love other people. Our love is fickle. Our love is conditional, even though we want to pledge “endless love.” God loves us deeply, so we can love deeply from His well.

The biggest piece in our relationships is grace. Peter uses an unusual phrase here: “administering God’s grace in its various forms.” The idea of administering is really the idea of stewardship. God expects us to be good stewards of His grace. How do we do that? Peter goes on to explain how we should use our spiritual gifts. It’s not a coincidence that spiritual gifts, charismata, literally means “grace gifts.” We use our spiritual gifts to extend God’s grace to others.

Who is really bugging you these days? Who needs love? Who needs grace? How can you love deeply from God’s well? How can you extend God’s grace?

To make a tax deductible donation to Galatians 4:19 Ministries:

Thursday, April 14, 2016

When God Became Real for Me

By Allen White

the Father…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. Colossians 1:12-14

I have been a Christian as long as I can remember. Now, I did make a commitment to Christ several hundred times at least. As Perry Duggar says, “If you say you’ve been saved your whole life, that’s too long.”

I have attended church every Sunday since I was two weeks old. Going to church was not a question in our family. We were there every Sunday for Sunday school, morning worship, and the evening service. We were also there every Wednesday night and a lot of other times as well.

I always enjoyed going to church, except for the occasional Sunday night when something really great was going to be on the Wonderful World of Disney. If it looked especially good, I would occasionally feign illness in order to stay home and watch the program. This didn’t work very well. Between the guilt of my deceptiveness and the absence from church, surely if the Lord would return, I would not be going.

Then, in the summer of 1982 something changed. I was looking forward to my senior year of high school, so I could go to law school and become a high-powered, big-80’s corporate attorney. I wasn’t as interested in the law as I was in getting my next Porsche. Practicing medicine seemed so messy…But God had something different in mind.

That summer at youth camp, God did a work in my life. Lying on the red, yellow and orange shag carpeting of the camp chapel, God spoke to me. He called me. He called me to a life that was set apart. He called me into ministry. Any desire to do anything else left me. I belonged fully to Him.

At that moment, everything described in this passage became true for me. My sins were forgiven. I was redeemed. I was rescued from the dominion of darkness. God qualified me to share in His inheritance.

When did these things happen to you? If this hasn’t happened in your life, then it’s very easy to cross the line of faith and trust God fully for your salvation. If you have any questions, please send me a note at

If you would like to share your story with me and the other readers of these devotionals, just follow the instructions below to leave a comment on the blog.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Try This Wealth Calculator and Give Thanks

By Allen White

And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way …joyfully giving thanks to the Father Colossians 1:10, 12

The Bible prescribes a diverse remedy for living a life worthy of the Lord and pleasing God. We are called to bear fruit in every good work, grow in the knowledge of God, be strengthened with all power, and lastly joyfully give thanks. Giving thanks seems like an easy one.

These instructions reflect Paul’s teaching in First Thessalonians: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). There is no clearer indication of God’s will for our lives in the Bible than this: be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances.

We must note that God’s will is not “all circumstances.” God’s will is that His people would be joyful, prayerful and thankful regardless of the circumstances.

I have to admit. This is not an easy one for me. I can easily tell you everything that is wrong with the circumstance in front of me. But, I tend to take for granted what’s working well. If things are going good, isn’t that the norm? Isn’t that what I should expect? But these problems, can they just go away?

I want things to be better. I want things to improve. And, I am grateful for what God has given me. It just takes a little effort to stop and joyfully give thanks.

When it comes to things that aren’t natural for me, I find that I have to create a system or dare I say a ritual to make sure this happens. After a while, it will start coming more naturally to me.

When I was younger, I would become depressed at the beginning of the month when it came time to pay my bills. Now, granted 20 years ago, I was living in a room at the church and bringing in a whopping $250 per week. Did I mention that I also had a student loan to repay? I would sit down to write the checks (Do you remember checks?) and depression would just overcome me. I felt bad that I felt bad. I even felt a little guilty. I wasn’t living in the lap of luxury, but it was a very short commute to work.

So, I changed my habit. As I sat down at the table with my pile of bills and my checkbook, I would stop and thank God for providing for all of my needs. I would thank Him for allowing me to serve Him in full-time ministry. I would thank Him for the ability to take care of my obligations. This completely transformed my attitude toward paying my bills. Rather than grousing over what I didn’t have, I could joyfully thank God for what I did have.

You and I are some of the wealthiest people in the world. The vast majority would love to trade places with us any day. If you make $30,000 per year, you are in the top 1 percent of the richest people in the world. If you don’t believe me, check out this Wealth Calculator. (Please note, I am not familiar with the charities supported by this website. I would advise you to either give through your church or thoroughly investigate the mission and philosophy of any organization before you support them).

Where are you on the rich list? What can you be thankful for today? Make joyful thanks a habit in your life.

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Tuesday, April 12, 2016

God Wants to Give Us His Power

By Allen White

And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way…being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience… Colossians 1:10-11

In Bible College, I used to hear guys pray, “Lord, show us your mighty power.” My thought was, “Uh oh, you don’t know what you’re asking for.” After all, when do we need God’s power? We need God’s power when life is completely overwhelming. We need God’s power when all hell has broken loose.

Maybe they were asking for God’s power because they were devastated by their circumstances. (Does putting off a term paper qualify?) Some, however, were asking because they wanted to be on the fast track to spiritual gianthood. Their prayer was really saying, “Bring it on.” I just backed away slowly watching for lightning to strike.

God wants to give us His power. Look at this verse: “Being strengthened by all power.” Yes! “According to His glorious might.” Yes! Yes! “That you may have great endurance and patience.” What?! The purpose of God’s power is to help me wait? I don’t want God’s power to help me get through it. I want God’s power to make it go away. So when it doesn’t go away, I feel that God has let me down. Maybe God feels that I am not living a worthy life that pleases Him.

God’s power is not our power. We need God’s power because we actually don’t have that much power. Think about it: in order to be patient, in order to endure, in order to please God, in order to live a worthy life, I don’t have much to offer. It requires God’s power for us to live a life that pleases Him. And, that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

Sometimes we get so frustrated because when we try to live up to what we believe God expects of us, we run out of steam. Whoever said that we have to provide all of the steam? God’s power resides in us through the presence of His Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 1:7). God gives us all that we need to successfully live our lives for Him.

When we begin to feel that we don’t have what it takes to please God, we’re exactly right. But, what we have is not limited to us. We also possess what God offers to us, including his power.
Where are you really blowing it these days? Where are you weak? What are you impatient about? What are you ready to quit? God has the power that you need. You just need to ask.

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Monday, April 11, 2016

Are You Headed to Bible Nerd Heaven?

By Allen White

And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: …growing in the knowledge of God Colossians 1:10

Another part of living a worthy life and pleasing God is by growing in the knowledge of God. I think believers miss it on this one most of the time. We have grown to believe that knowledge of God is the accumulation of vast amounts of biblical information. If our goal was to become Bible eggheads to win some sort of Bible Jeopardy to make it into Bible nerd heaven, then I would be at the top of the class. But, that my friends, doesn’t cut it.

Part of the error surrounding the Colossian church was a belief in acquiring superior knowledge that would make them superior beings. Then, they could look down their bespectacled noses at other lowly, mere earthlings. Paul’s point here is that knowledge is not just from any celestial source. It comes from God. And, again, if this knowledge was only the possession of a few elite believers, then how could others ever please God and live a worthy life?

I have a Master of Divinity degree in Christian Education. I have to admit that I disagree with most of what I was taught. The accumulation of knowledge for knowledge’s sake misses the point. Avoiding your family and serving others to get your nerd on, is not the intention of knowing God.

I believe the knowledge of God goes beyond memorizing verses and parsing Greek verbs. To gain the knowledge of God, we must use a multi-disciplinary approach. At Brookwood Church, we call that Connect, Grow, Serve, Worship and Reach. We learn in community with others. We grow in the application of God’s Word, not just remembering facts. We don’t just read the owner’s manual. We also put the things we read into practice to learn them thoroughly.

We take what we learn and share it with others. We learn more when we teach others than we ever learn on our own. That’s why I would encourage everyone reading this to open your hearts and your homes to host a small group this Fall.

Worship takes us to a place where we sense and experience God unlike where studying will take us. Worship gives us the experience that we know that we know that we know the presence and reality of God Himself.

Now, don’t get me wrong. God gave us a book, and He gave us a brain. That’s not a coincidence. He expects us to spend time exploring and trying on His Word. But, He also expects us to do something about it. Francis Chan put it this way, “If I told my child to clean this room, and he only memorized my words, would that be enough?”

I apologize for being a little preachy today. I feel strongly about this point. If the accumulation of Bible knowledge was the sole point, then Jehovah’s Witnesses would be better Christians than we are.

A few years ago, we challenged all of our small groups to prepare and serve a hot meal to the homeless. We committed to every Friday night between November and March.

One small group was made up mostly of home builders. One member in particular, Alan, admitted to me later that his attitude toward the homeless was “Get a job.” He had built his business from nothing, so could they if they decided to work hard.

His group signed up to serve a meal to the homeless one Friday night. As he stood in the line serving, Alan looked each man in the eye. He began to realize that if circumstances were slightly different, he just might be on the other side of that line.

A few months later, he learned that a ministry was renovating a building in the Tenderloin in San Francisco. The building was soon to be a homeless shelter. Every Friday, Alan sent his crews to San Francisco to work on that homeless shelter instead of building multi-million dollar homes.

What Alan learned by serving that meal in the homeless shelter and what he committed to do after that was a far greater lesson than just discussing God’s attitude toward the poor. That experience changed what he thought. It changed how he felt. It changed what he did.

How is the knowledge of God changing you? Are you letting it sink down deep? What need is right in front of you? What can you do about it? Who do you need to forgive? What do you need to stop doing? What do you need to start doing? Take that step today.

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Sunday, April 10, 2016

What Is Your Life Producing?

By Allen White

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… Colossians 1:10

Living a worthy life and pleasing God starts with bearing fruit. We could immediately venture over to Galatians 5 and recite the fruit of the Spirit. But, that’s not where this passage is going. Paul throws a little curveball. It’s bearing fruit in every good work. Great, now pleasing God involves works. Bring in the guilt and condemnation. Here we go.

Okay, don’t go there yet. The New Living Translation puts it this way, “Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit.” So, we need to evaluate what kind of fruit our lives are producing? Get ready for a few ouch moments.

Where are you finding the best results these days? At home? At work? At church? Asleep? What is the best thing going on in your life right now? How does that thing reflect the values and nature of God?

If what we are producing demonstrates God’s character and His presence in our lives, then our lives are pleasing to Him. If what we’re excelling at has little or nothing to do with God, then we are excelling at pleasing ourselves.

Now, don’t get me wrong. You don’t have to close every business transaction with a presentation of the Four Spiritual Laws. God gives us the ability to work and make money. As long as making money doesn’t become our god. Pastor Mark Driscoll puts it this way, “When you’ve taken a good thing and made it a god thing, it becomes a bad thing.”

So how and where is God working in your life? Did you leave a friend more encouraged? Do your kids feel more confident? Does your spouse feel better loved? Does your boss view you as the up and coming linchpin of your organization?

Don’t misunderstand. The fruit of our lives is not bound for some sort of divine county fair. Our fruit is not judged on out-sizing or out-tasting everyone else’s. It has more to do with how we are connected to God. If we’re well connected to Him, then our fruit resembles Him. If our fruit looks like something else, then we’d better check our connection to God.

Fruit is only part of living a worthy life that pleases God. Tomorrow we will look at growing in knowledge. But, for today, take a couple of minutes and think about how God is using you these days? Where are you succeeding? Thank God for using you, and then ask Him for more.

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Thursday, April 7, 2016

What does God expect of us?

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. Colossians 1:9-14

What does God expect of us? Paul talks here about living a life worthy of the Lord. Yikes. All of my legalistic roots are coming back to haunt me. I’m prone to feel a little like Wayne and Garth from Wayne’s Word, “I’m not worthy, I…” nevermind.

Paul follows up the idea of living a worthy life with pleasing God in every day. Okay, let’s go dig out the list: no drinking, no smoking, no card playing, no movie going (only applies to theaters. Netflix, Blockbuster, TV versions and mail order are exempt. Are you confused?), no cursing, no almost cursing (gosh, darn, heck, shoot), and many, many more.

The end result is that we can easily feel that God is unpleasable. We can’t be perfect. God expects perfection. Therefore, we will faithfully serve a God who is never actually pleased with us. He’s like a divine parent who has to feed and clothe us, but most of the time, He’s just waiting for us to turn 18 and move out of the house.

But, none of that is actually true. Why would Paul be earnestly praying for the Colossians to achieve something that was unachievable? That doesn’t make any sense.

Paul outlines four areas concerning a worthy life that pleases God:

·         Bearing fruit in every good work
·         Growing in the knowledge of God
·         Being strengthened with all power
·         Joyfully giving thanks to the Father

I am always amazed at Paul’s use of the run-on sentence. These six verses are made up of only three sentences. But, this is a very meaty passage, so it’s worth breaking it down. Over the next four devotionals, we are going to explore what each of these mean.

But, for now, what does it mean to you to live a worthy life and to please God? Does that excite you? Does that strike fear into your heart? Does that depress you? Right now, jot down five things that you believe please God and five things that you believe displease God. Then, throw the list away.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Hope You Need

By Allen White

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints— the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God's grace in all its truth. You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit. Colossians 1:3-8

The trademark of the Colossians was faith and love that sprung from hope. What do you hope? How’s your hope? This isn’t “I hope I win the lottery, so I can pay off the church’s debt.” I’m not sure that the lottery is your best investment. This isn’t “I hope I get a promotion and a big raise for doing mediocre work and putting forth as little effort as possible.” This isn’t “I hope that my weight will magically disappear while I sleep.”  Unless you’re sleeping on an exercise bike, you and I both know, it won’t happen.

This is hope based on two things: a home in Heaven and the Word of the Gospel. It’s not hope in hope. It’s hope in things that are lasting and true. It’s not hoping that things will just get better. It’s hope that says that no matter what happens, God is with us, and that’s enough reason to hope.

Some of us have had this hope for so long that the significance of it might have worn off a little bit. I have been a Christian for just shy of 40 years. I wasn’t much of a heathen before that. All I have ever known is growing up in church and following Christ. There are a lot of great things about that. The only problem is that God has been a part of my life for so long, I’m not as aware of His hope. I really don’t know what it’s like to be hope-less.

When our oldest son Samuel went back to the hospital for round two as a baby, we had already been wrung through the wringer emotionally. We prayed many prayers for his healing, only to watch him get sicker. We almost lost him. Then, after months of intensive care, we finally got to go home. We were home for one month. Then, we were headed back to the hospital.
About three days into the second hospital stay, our social worker who had walked us through some of the darkest days of our lives, called us into her office. She said, “It’s so good to have people like you here, because you have hope.” I just about fell off of my chair. She had seen us so devastated, questioning God, questioning everything, exhausted and at our wits end. How could she see hope?

Our hope was in Christ. It wasn’t something that we had to work up or maintain as a good Christian example of suffering to the hospital staff. Hope is what we possess in Christ.

For believers, we don’t need five easy steps to become more hopeful. Hope is already ours. Out of that hope grow faith and love.

This hope doesn’t promise that everything will work out the way that we want it to. But, this hope promises something better: a home in Heaven and the salvation of our souls. Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

How’s your hope today? What do you need hope for? God has the hope that you need.
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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Why Oprah and Jesus Just Don’t Mix

By Allen White

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the holy and faithful brothers in Christ at Colosse: Grace and peace to you from God our Father. Colossians 1:1-2

This summer we’re going to explore the book of Colossians. Paul wrote this book while he was imprisoned in Rome around 60 AD. Colosse was a church that Paul had never visited. It was founded by Epaphras and other converts from Paul’s travels.

Word had reached Paul in prison that the Colossians were confusing a few things in their faith. They were combining what they had learned about Christ with other philosophies and religions including paganism. This syncretism wasn’t giving the Colossians the best of both worlds. It was producing the worst of everything. They questioned the supremacy of Christ and in that, were beginning to lose their identity as children of God.

Their situation isn’t actually that much different from what many believers or “spiritual” people do today. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying, “It’s my way or the highway.” But, here’s the problem if we take a little from this church and that church, and then we listen to this preacher and that preacher, and then we borrow a little from this philosophy and that, after a while we end up with a conflicting, convoluted mess. Then, we wonder, “Why can’t I hear from God? Why isn’t anything working?”

God is a jealous God. Jesus said very clearly and unapologetically, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). How narrow-minded of Him! How unpolitically correct! Who does He think He is? Well, Jesus is the Son of God.

It’s not up to us to figure out how we want to approach God. God has pretty much spelled that out. There’s only one road that leads to God. All of the other roads may be nice or appealing, but they don’t end up at the same place. That doesn’t mean that Christians are better than others. It does mean that true believers are blessed.

It all comes down to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. You could be a Buddhist who trusts the saving grace of Jesus Christ and get to Heaven. You could be a Baptist who attends church every Sunday and still go to Hell. What we think is right doesn’t matter? The Truth has been defined very clearly through God’s Son and through God’s Word. Outside of that, everything else is just speculation.

Who are the major influences in your life? What speakers? What authors? What strategies or philosophies? How do they line up with the Truth of God’s Word?

You see we can’t trust God for salvation, and then trust Warren Buffett for our security, and then trust Howard Stern with our love life, and then trust Oprah with our life’s inspiration. It just doesn’t work. Now, I know that even a broken clock is right twice a day. We can learn something from everybody. But, how does what they’re teaching compare to what God’s Word tells us?

If you’re upset about Oprah, shoot me an email. (I am out of the office this week, but I will respond just as soon as I get back. I promise). We can talk about what Oprah, Eckhart Tolle, Marianne Williamson, and A Course in Miracles. If you’re upset about Howard Stern, I’m not sure that I want to have that conversation.

Eckhart Tolle:

Marianne Williamson:

A Course in Miracles:

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Monday, April 4, 2016

A Big Milestone

The Galatians 4:19 devotionals have been going since 2009. I just discovered that these devotionals have been read over 300,000 times in the last seven years! I am both humbled and amazed.

Thanks for reading,


Billions and Billions of Books

By Allen White

This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true. Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. John 21:24-25

Just how many books would that be? Now, John wouldn’t have considered microfilm or microfiche. There was no network server or cloud computing back then. All of that aside, it would be a lot of books.

Only a third of the earth’s surface is land, but there are 57.5 million acres of land on the earth. How many books would fill a square mile? How high could you stack them? Would they be on shelves or just piled up?

Suddenly, the average Barnes & Noble seems a little small. Even doesn’t have that kind of inventory. Thank goodness Jesus didn’t tweet. We’d never stop seeing that whale.

While Luke thoroughly investigated Jesus life (Luke 1:1-4), John witnessed everything first hand. From the day that John met Jesus along with his brother James, John was very close to Jesus. Not only was John one of the twelve, he was also in Jesus’ inner circle of Peter, James and John (Matthew 26:37). John saw it all.

As many miracles and healings as John and the other writers recorded, there were far more to report. As many profound words of wisdom that came from Jesus’ lips, not every single word could possibly be written down.

Jesus as a person fully reflected life in the Spirit. His character was impeccable. While His words at times were pointed, He was without sin. Jesus always said the right thing. Jesus always did the right thing. He had nothing to apologize for.

There is so much that we don’t know. Our job is not to worry about what we don’t know. There is so much that we do know.

What about Jesus’ life impacts you? What part of Jesus’ character would you want your life to reflect? What part of Jesus’ mission are you willing to take on?

I’m astounded by these words of Jesus: “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12). What could those “greater things” look like in your life?

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Sunday, April 3, 2016

Life Is Not Fair

By Allen White

Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”

 Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?” John 21:20-23

Comparison is a dangerous game. If we compare our strengths to others’ weaknesses, we get a false sense of how good we are. If we compare our weaknesses to others’ strengths, we become easily defeated.

Life is not fair. Good people sometimes lose their jobs. Corrupt people sometimes become wealthy. Healthy people sometimes die young. Godly people sometimes suffer more than sinners. But, what if life is not about fairness? What if God isn’t grading on the bell curve? What if His plan for each of us is unique?

When our oldest son was a baby, he spent the first few months in intensive care. Those were some of our darkest days. Early on, we didn’t know if he would even survive. Each day we didn’t know whether to expect improvement or crisis. These feelings came to be known as “emotional whiplash.”

In all of this, I learned a profound lesson. Please understand as a parent facing the uncertainty of my child’s fate, I was in no mood for profound lessons. I preferred a bailout to a proverb.

When most of us are in crisis, the question we ask is “Why?” That’s natural. “Why are bad things happening?” Then, we up the ante. “If God loves me, then why are bad things happening?” We know that bad things are happening, so we’re really questioning whether God loves us. But, the question is unfair, because it’s incomplete.

To ask why bad things are happening is only asking half of the question. If we question every bad thing, then we must also question every good thing that happens. “Why did our HMO put us in one of the best children’s hospitals in the country?” “Why did the insurance cover over $850,000 of the bill, but our part was only $100?” “Why did God place us in a loving congregation that continued to pay me for two months straight without expecting me to come into the office?”

Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate a problem just as little as the next guy. To be honest problems irritate me. People who seem to have a lot going for them and don’t seem to have a lot of problems also irritate me. But, my life is not about you.

If you drive a new car, and I drive a pile of junk, I don’t envy your car payment, your insurance premium, or your taxes. And, the list goes on.

God calls as He wills. God gives gifts as He determines (1 Corinthians 12:11). We are not called to envy another believer’s success just like we’re not called to envy their struggle.

Where do you feel you have been short-changed these days? Whose life do you think you’d rather have? A closer examination might prove something else entirely. Your goal should be about becoming the best version of you that God can produce.

God isn’t going to ask you: “Why weren’t you more like John?” But, He might ask: “Why weren’t you the you I created you to be?”

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