Connecting the Dots… One Step of Faith at a Time



This week we looked at the book of Ruth. In it we discovered that Ruth came to the end of herself and her plan, and at the same time took a step of faith and trusted God and His plan (1:16-17). God called her to take one step at a time and trust Him with the big picture, like a dot-to-dot. She couldn’t see the whole picture but only the next dot…

The life of faith is really this way: we trust God each step of the way and put one foot in front of the other, daily, as we see God’s plan unfolding before us. We can’t see the whole picture but, like Ruth, God has a plan to save us, provide for us, and to bring about a much bigger picture of His help than we could ever imagine.


How could Ruth know that if she just got up, worked hard, and left the rest to God, He would bring her a husband and children? (2:2-3)

How could Ruth know that she would be the great grandmother of King David? (4:17)

How could Ruth know that her faith and just walking a dot-to-dot life would ultimately lead to the picture of Jesus, the King of Kings!


Ruth really isn’t any different from you and me. We are just call to live our lives dot-to-dot. We aren’t called to figure it all out… just take the next step in faith and see what picture God paints in His plan. It is always bigger and richer than we ever dreamed…


What’s your next step? What’s your next dot? Take that step in the assurance that God has a big and beautiful picture for you that will ultimately bless others as well!


Did you know that seeds actually grow?



This spring we had a chance to plant corn seeds with a farmer in our community. While we were planting the seeds he seemed to give great attention to the depth of the seed in the soil, the amount of fertilizer being used, and even the location the seeds were planted. Finally, after all the seeds were planted we looked at the field together and wondered… Will the seeds grow?

Five years ago I sat down with a friend who had all but given up on the Faith. I tried to plant some gospel seeds in him.  I kept thinking… Is this too weak or am I being too aggressive?                – planting too deep or too shallow.  Was I saying the right things? – planting in the right location.  Finally, when we parted ways I even tried to give some final words of encouragement in an attempt at fertilizer.  After the conversation was over I looked at him and wondered… Will the seeds grow?

I doubted.

Many of us wonder at the viability and prospects of planting gospel seeds and doing ministry.  We think… Will any of these seeds every grow?  We try so hard to plant the seed right, in our attempt to make their growth maximally viable. We look at the people we are ministering to in Jesus Name like I looked at my spiritually dead friend or the brown soil field and doubt.  We have a hard time remembering and believing that seeds grow, not because of our power but because of God.  God makes seed grow and God makes the labor of planting seeds never in vain and always viable in His power.

We are reminded by the Apostle Paul, ” I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.  The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor.  For we are co-workers in God’s service…” (1Co 3:6-9 NIV)

What is your seed sowing ministry?  Business?  Education? Working with youth and children?  Intercessory prayer?  Discipleship and small groups?  Parenting?  Missional communities?  Remember that God will make your seeds grow.  Don’t give up.  Trust in faith that the one who made seeds to grow will do just that in the field in which you labor.  It may not happen right away, but be sure of this… seeds grow!


Can you land the Airplane of Faith?



My favorite sound in the world is the sound of an airplane touching down on the runway after a successful fight. Can you hear it? You see a tiny puff of smoke and the sound goes, “irrrrt!” That sound represents all the training of the pilot put into action. You see, it is not enough for the pilot to have an academic knowledge flying, nor is it even enough for the pilot to practically know the proper procedures to land, but he must also actually, or operationally, land the plane!

The levels of academic, practical, and operational knowledge are very important to the Christian as we listen to God’s Word and seek to obey Him in the Spirit of Jesus. Entire generations have been taught about “correct” theology and how to apply it, but have never in fact done so. Rather than focus, as God does, on living out the faith, they argue about doctrine and sometimes never seem to live it out. It is almost like they are pilots who can’t seem to land the plane. This is what is known as dead orthodoxy. Christians can argue all day about correct theology, we can even claim to know how to live, but until we actually live out the gospel our faith has not become operational.  We haven’t landed the plane!  We need our faith to be not just practical but operational.

Operational theology is what is happening at the level of heart, what one really believes in the moment in time, and what we are passively or proactively acting on. So often we miss this crucial step in our spiritual lives.  It just isn’t enough to talk about what we believe, nor even how to live, we must also actually live it out!


The Arrogance of Mutually Assured Destruction in the Church



During the Cold War between the United States of America and the former Soviet Union, the build up of nuclear arms became a standard practice. If one side built a weapon of mass destruction the other side countered with ever increasing numbers of more powerful and destructive weapons. The idea behind this proliferation was simple: if both sides knew that the other had weapons that could ensure total destruction, it functioned as a deterrent to go to war. This became known as the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). As long as either side continued to equal or escalate armaments “peace” was maintained through “strength.”

Looking back on the Cold War, there was a kind of arrogance in this “peace.” Each side wanted to show that it was better and more powerful than the other, and if war would break out, victory would be assured in the destruction of the enemy. Ironically as long as victory over the other was the implicit goal, no peace was achieved!

How often in the church do we seem to practice an arrogant doctrine of MAD, seeking for personal or theological victory rather than peace and reconciliation? How often would we prefer a build up of arms rather than humility and grace? How often do we promote a Cold War between doctrinal camps, between rival theological perspectives, even between members of our own churches and families rather than make every effort to keep the victory of unity and peace already won in Jesus? (Eph. 4:3, Col. 2:15) The gospel calls us to unity and peace, but this can only be achieved when we put down our arms and in the humility demonstrated by God in Jesus Christ reach out to our “enemies.” This can only be done when we give up our own victory and arrogant plans and embrace the humility of Christ found in the gospel. Without this self-denial and sacrificial step, there is no chance of peace and unity. However, with the humility of Jesus we can put down our armaments, repent, forgive, and find peace.

Breaking the Gospel to Keep It?



In 1532 Niccolò Machiavelli first published his ground breaking book, The Prince.  In his book he laid down efficient principles for gaining power by focusing on the goal and that goal alone would justify the process, even if it was on the face of it inappropriate or unethical: the end justifies the means.  His little book pinpointed one of the major problems with how we relate to one another. Is it ethical to act in any way we wish as long as the result is good? Ironically most Christians throughout history would say emphatically “No!” and label this form of behavioral ethics as “evil.”  What we do, however, is often entirely different.  Why is it that so often we employ Machiavellian tactics in our own lives and justify it?

Why is it that if we think another Christian is in error, in how they have treated us, in their doctrine, or even in full time ministry, this gives us justification to do “whatever it takes” correct them?   We may speak harshly to them.  Why?   Because they must be stopped!   We may establish blogs to write against them and publicly destroy their reputation.  Why? Because we must stand up to doctrinal or personal error!  We may even remove them from ministry. Why? Because the cancer of their error must be expunged.   Is this the way of life God has called us to in Jesus Christ, or is this how Machiavelli would encourage us to regain power?

As Christians we are called to more than simply a “good end” but also to a method or way of life.  We are called to imitate God, Eph. 5:1-2, and the primary way we imitate Him is to live lives of sacrificial love.  This way of life can be exemplified in simple terms:

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Mat 7:12 ESV)

“For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Gal 5:14 ESV)

“speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Eph 4:15-16 ESV)

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”(Eph 4:32 ESV)

If we are commanded specifically to love, and told that the way of our lives determines the outcome, why do we excuse ourselves in how we act?  In truth, there is no excuse.  God has given us the gospel, and this is not just a doctrine but a way of life.  If we break the gospel to establish the gospel, or a good end – some doctrine, behavior etc., we have not kept it but rather broken it.  Our calling is to receive the gospel and live it out, specifically and especially when we are wronged or when a person we interact with or even have responsibility over is in error.  This would apply to interpersonal relationships of friends and family, husbands and wives, parents and children, church and ministry boards, and every conceivable interaction we could have with another human being!

If you break the gospel to keep the gospel all you have done is broken the gospel, but if you live out the gospel you keep it!

Experimental Religion



My favorite part of chemistry class was lab. In lab we were able to do experiments that demonstrated the scientific truth of what we had studied in our books. We could test, observe, and measure chemical reactions and formulas. How boring would chemistry have been if the extent of our learning was only listening to the professor lecture and reading a text-book? Experiments were, in some sense, what the books and lectures were for – to show truth in action and experience, and to prove the reality and power of chemistry.

The old-school Puritans used to talk about “Experimental Religion,” because they knew that their faith was not just described in a book or merely cerebral, nor did they think that the limits of their spirituality were to be found under the “lecture” of a “spiritual-professor,” their pastor!  They knew that their lives were the “lab” of the Holy Spirit to show the truth of the gospel in action and experience. Rather than simply be biblicists – always learning yet never applying the Bible – the Puritans wanted to experience God in their daily lives and prove His power.  Rather than simply going to church – always attending but never applying – they wanted to see God prove his grace in their lives and show to everyone they interacted with by experiment, or as we might say today, experience, the love of God in Christ.

This week, if you go to church or when you read your Bible, don’t just attend the service or merely read the Word, but rather take it to the lab of your life and experience it!  Let the power of God’s presence express and prove His truth in your life and to everyone  you interact with this week.  Go old-school Puritan and experiment and experience God in your life!