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So we tell others about Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all the wisdom God has given us. We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ. That’s why I work and struggle so hard, depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me. Colossians 1:28-29 (NLT)

Somewhere along the line we have bought into the idea that there is a disconnect between being a Christ-follower and being intelligent. The media often portrays ‘religious’ people as being some sort of anomaly that is out of touch with society, reality and in some cases just plain dumb!

Here’s a news flash for you. It’s not true. Being a follower of Jesus Christ does not mean you are less intelligent, less in touch with reality or stupid. Don’t let the enemy tell you any differently. We don’t follow a bunch of empty, unsubstantiated rules and stories that religion dreams up. We don’t place our faith on empty tradition, fancy dishes, or ‘new revelations’ that came from some mountaintop experience.

Perhaps one of the reasons we are maligned as being out of touch with reality and disconnected from ‘true science’ is the fact that ‘wisdom’ and ‘intellect’ are often misunderstood. Someone can be very intelligent, but not very wise. I had a college professor once who was perhaps the most intelligent and interesting person I’ve ever met. But he couldn’t figure out an overhead projector! (Those of you under 30 may want to Google overhead projector to understand that last statement!)

I also know some people who, by the world’s standards, aren’t very intelligent at all but are extremely wise. People who have never finished high school but are making six figure salaries because they didn’t let the fact that they didn’t have a fancy piece of paper on their wall keep them from being successful.

In the spiritual realm it’s our wisdom, not our knowledge of spiritual things, that will enable us to help others (and ourselves) grow strong in our relationship with Jesus Christ.

The wise follower of Christ will be able to discern what those around them need in order to begin or grow in a relationship with Christ. Learn how to use the tools we have to build strong godly lives. Learn to listen more than preach; to love more and criticize less; to accept differences without demanding our own way.

The Apostle Paul was an extremely intelligent, highly trained teacher in his day. But he writes to the Colossians and reminds them that it isn’t his intellect that brings others to maturity in Christ. Others grew in their relationship because Paul’s teaching was based on God’s wisdom and Paul’s tenacity and refusal to give up.

Grace says, “I know the right way. I know you are on the wrong path. But I will love you and rely on Godly wisdom to gently show you a better, more joyful way. Show your wisdom by showing others God’s grace.

PRAYER: Father God, I get angry when I see people I love and have concern for going down the wrong path. Help me in my frustration to remember that they will not change because of my knowledge. They will not grow because of my preaching. Like plants in the garden they will only become fruitful by my tender loving care and a refusal to give up on them. Empower me with your Spirit of wisdom to help others grow in you. Amen.

You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. James 4:4

Several years ago now, I worked in a warehouse driving forklift to load and unload trucks. I’m pretty sure I was the only Christ-follower in my department. This was made evident one day when we were in the foreman’s office killing some time. Soon jokes started flying that became more and more inappropriate. Apparently I didn’t hide my uneasiness with the situation. I said nothing, but excused myself from the office and went back to work.

After that whenever the conversation began to turn onto the ‘dirty side’ my foreman would look at me and, very respectfully, warn me that I may not want to hear the following story. I’d make some quip about having a truck to load and that would be the end of it.

I got along well with everyone in the department. I wasn’t a goody-two-shoe, Bible thumping preacher (at least not then!). I just had standards that were different than the rest of them and we respected those differences…I thought.

Christmas came and the foreman invited the entire department and their spouses to his house for dinner and drinks. In the days leading up to the party I’d overheard others talking about previous parties. I was torn. A part of me wanted nothing to do with the lifestyle that was being portrayed at those parties. But another part of me wanted to show my acceptance of my friends in the department, even though we were miles apart in what we considered appropriate.

The night of the party came and I reluctantly showed up at the party. I was, I admit, very apprehensive and already had an exit strategy planned if needed. I was surprised though. The foreman and his wife greeted each of us when we arrived. We were offered either alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks. I wasn’t the only one that chose the latter!

When it came time for the meal I was really taken by surprise. My cigarette smoking, foul language master and dirty joke coinsure asked me if I’d say a table grace before the meal! I made sure my lord Jesus was glorified in those few minutes of silence and the party went on.

After dinner we played a couple games and I left, knowing full well that some of the others may spend the night because they’d be in no condition to drive.

A few days later I was talking with a friend of mine from church. He said, “I hear you got to pray at the party the other night.” I was taken back! How did he know? Then Don told me another part of the story.

His cousin was Bob, one of my co-workers. I hadn’t known that before. The family had been praying for Bob for quite some time and so far the prayers were unanswered. Bob was very angry with me that night because of my ‘holier than thou’ attitude. I was self-righteous, judgmental and made Bob feel very uneasy.

I began to apologize to Don and told him my story, which was completely different that Bob’s. Don laughed. “I was pretty sure that was the case. Bob is under conviction. He knows what he is doing is wrong and he refuses to change. You weren’t bothering him. HE was bothering him!”

I never heard if Bob ever came to Christ. But I learned a valuable lesson that day. Try as we might to get along with the world, there will be times when we have to take a stand for the right. It doesn’t necessarily have to be an open attack on ‘the sinful lifestyle’. It can be a quiet resolve to live what we know is right.

Not being a friend to the world doesn’t mean we reject those who don’t follow Christ. It simply means we hold to a different standard. At times that standard will put us at odds with others. The true Christ-follower will always choose to please Jesus rather than the world.

PRAYER: Father God, there are so many voices telling me what is right and wrong. So many times I’m forced to make decisions that may go against the mainstream. I ask that you would empower me with your Holy Spirit to have the wisdom and strength to choose your way regardless of the results. May my life be an example of your love and grace. In Jesus name, Amen.

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” Matthew 4:19

When we were young we lived on a small hobby farm in the country. Often, on warm summer night we would go for walks in the woods, following a makeshift trail. One time in particular we were using the opportunity to try out our new flashlights we’d gotten from our grandparents. Halfway through the adventure, my flashlight quit working. It was a moonless night and it was dark!

We’d made this hike hundreds of times at day and at night, but since I’d had light and now was ‘in the dark’ it was scary. I had been in the lead but my brother and I decided that I should relinquish that position since he had the working flashlight. With his guidance (and flashlight!) we were able to make it safely back to the house avoiding the obstacles in our way.

I think of that situation every once in awhile when I read this verse. Jesus invites me to follow him. He doesn’t order me to follow him. It’s my choice. I can decide to take shortcuts. I can go off on my own and try to make my way ‘home’ taking my chances at stumbling over rocks, falling into holes or having a branch slap me across the face. Or, I can follow the light and let it guide me through the troubled times.

Following Jesus isn’t the same as ‘following’ someone on some social networking site. He doesn’t ask me to follow him for his sake; he invites me to follow him for my safety and protection. Jesus knows the safest, and the most fulfilling path for me to follow. It may not be the easiest. It may not be the most glamorous. But it’s the best path for me.

Following Jesus takes risk. I risk being the most popular. I risk being wealthy. I risk having the most toys. What I lose following Jesus pales in comparison to what I gain. Rev. Billy Graham had a friend, George Beverly Shea, who turned down a lucrative recording contract to sing for Jesus. His voice could have brought him millions of dollars. Instead, his songs were instrumental in winning millions to Jesus. I may lose temporary treasure here on earth, but what I gain lasts for eternity.

Following Jesus is exclusive. There are many in the world that will tell you of other ways to happiness, other ways to fame and fortune, other ways to fulfillment of your true self. Who knows better what you need? Someone you have never met or the one who formed you in your mother’s womb? Jesus knows the very best path for you to follow because he made you…and he made the path!

Following Jesus is passionate. When you are in a passion filled relationship you want nothing more than to be in close proximity to the one whom you love. Jesus longs for a passionate relationship with you so that, like Adam and Eve, you can walk the path of life together.

PRAYER: Jesus it’s so easy for me to stray from the path. So many times when I decide my way is faster, safer, quicker and more profitable. Following my path has led to nothing but heartache and frustration. I want to follow you completely. Forgive me for straying. Empower me with your Spirit to follow only you. In your name I pray, Amen.

We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace. 1 Chronicles 29:15 (NLT)

Some things in life seem like an eternity. Waiting room while  loved on is in surgery; waiting for the doctor’s results; waiting for a phone call from your child (at any age); waiting for the decision by a bank, a judge or the woman you want to marry; waiting for the storm to pass, the waters to recede, the screaming to end; the abuse to stop.

There maybe nothing that is harder than waiting. It won’t make the wait any easier but think on this. God measures time in years, we measure it in minutes, hours and days. The Bible describes our time here as a journey, a pilgrimage in a foreign land where people don’t understand our language or our culture. We are all minorities as Christ-followers.

Our lives are described as but a shadow. The shadow of a mighty oak on a sundrenched day goes slowly, almost without notice. The shadow of a passing plane, bird or wind-whipped cloud goes swiftly and sometimes without notice. All are temporary. All are empty representations of what is real. Some offer comfort and protection, for a time. Others are ominous and warn of lurking danger. But they are all empty representations of what is real.

Take heart weary pilgrim. Though your journey seems long and pointless, your Father sees you and knows the struggle and pain of your journey. The frustration of youth, the concern of middle age, and the struggle of old age will soon pass. They are, as God sees them, a drop in a bucket, a moment in time.

Someday the shadows of our lives will disappear and we will see reality. Someday the wondering and hoping and worrying and questioning will be replaced by the reality of eternity with him. We may never know why our journey takes us the places we go, but we can know that this life is temporary and as Christ-followers, what awaits us is so much better than anything we’ve ever experiences before.

Follow Christ. Live in his grace and forgiveness. This journey you are on, complete with shadows and struggles will soon open itself to eternity with Jesus!

PRAYER: Father God. Sometimes life seems so hard. There are so many questions I have for you. So many times when everything I do seems to run into dead ends. I’m tired of waiting. Tired of worrying. Tired of failing because of my own insecurity. Encourage me with your presence. Empower me with your Spirit. Help me to live my life in the reality that as much as the pain hurts, it’s only temporary. In Jesus name, Amen.

The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. Isaiah 11:6

Have you ever wondered what heaven will be like? Ever thought about what we, as Christ-followers, will do for eternity? Eternity is a long time! Will we have jobs? Will we recognize our loved ones? Will we have any recollection of earthly events, or see earthly events from our vantage point?

Even though I don’t have answers to those questions there are some things we can be sure of. We can be sure we’ll see Jesus. I can’t wait for that. I figure I’ll sit at his feet for the first one or two million years and just worship him before I venture out to explore the place.

We can be pretty sure we’ll feel at home there. Jesus says he’ll have a place set up for us in his Father’s house. While I’m not entirely sure I know how that will work out, I think once we cross that line from today to eternity we’ll feel completely at home.

The Bible tells us there will be no death, no illness, no gender gap or generational gap. We’ll all live in complete and perfect harmony. Isaiah gives us the examples of mortal enemies like the lion and the lamb laying together in complete harmony.. The same with the leopard and the goat and the calf and the lion.

What will cause enemies to live together in peace? A little child. That little child is Jesus. He was there at creation when they were created. Paul tells us he is the glue that holds this entire universe together! Perfect peace has its origin and its power in the leading of the little child in the manger. The baby that grew to be king. King over death. King over sorrow and sadness. King over guilt and shame. King over my enemies.

We won’t likely see peace in our world for some time. Jesus says things will get much worse before they get better. Someday, though, if we hold Jesus as our Lord and Savior we’ll know what perfect peace is. Peace from finances. Peace from relational conflict and political upheaval. Peace from illness and worry. Peace from sin and guilt.

Until then, the sustainer and creator of peace lives within each of us. It’s unlikely that any of us will be able to exert enough change on planet earth to bring world-wide peace. But we can work towards peace in our own little corner of the world. Go ahead. Start a peace chain by praying for your enemies. Commit your worries and fears and feeling of inadequacy to the one who can bring peace in the midst of the storm. Someday we’ll live in a world of perfect peace, but until then do what you can to bring peace to your corner of the world.

PRAYER: Father God, I don’t know what it will be like to live in heaven with you for eternity. There are some days when I struggle so much here on earth that I long to ‘come home’ to you. Thank you for the peace that you promise me in eternity. Thank you that you can bring some of that peace to my world today. Empower me with your Spirit to sow thoughts of peace in my world where ever and however  I can. In Jesus name, Amen.

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