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Archive | Witnessing

6 Ways to Impact Children with the Message of Easter

Rich memories of childhood Easters keep popping up in my mind. I can still feel the cold metal of the folding chair as I sat with my family in the church parking lot waiting for the first rays of the sun to make their appearance. And with the sun, the somber notes of “low in the grave He lay…” became the joyous thunder of “up from the grave He arose (He arose), with a mighty triumph o’er His foes.” After prayer and singing, everyone escaped the chilly air and enjoyed pancakes and sausage in the church fellowship hall.

Recently, I’ve been thinking about the impact Easter had on me as a child. I also have wonderful memories of Christmas, but Easter took root in my soul from an early age. Even then, I must have sensed the eternal significance of Christ’s death and resurrection. As parents and grandparents, we have a great opportunity – and God-given responsibility – to make sure our children understand the great truth and power of Easter.

6 Ways to Share Easter with Your Kids

Below are six easy, but memorable, ways to help your children understand the Easter story. Make sure you check out the links for details and more information:

  1. Make a set of Resurrection Eggs – This is a fun way to “concretely” share the Easter story with your kids. You can purchase a ready-made set, but putting them together with your kids is part of the fun. Here are the instructions for making your own Resurrection Eggs.

2. Watch a movie together – One great way to start a conversation with your children about the Easter is by watching a movie that portrays the Easter story or illustrates its truths. Several great ones are available. Just choose one that is age-appropriate for the kids in your life. Here are a few suggestions:

3. Attend a Good Friday service or event – Many churches have services on Good Friday to help us remember Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf. This is a great opportunity to talk about Jesus’ death and what it accomplished for us. Cochrane, the small town where we lived in Canada, had a “Cross Walk.” Members from all areas of the community met downtown and prayerfully followed the cross as a volunteer carried it through the streets.

4. Make Resurrection Cookies – Use this tasty object lesson to teach your kids about the empty tomb. Make them on Saturday night and enjoy them first thing Sunday. Here’s the recipe and how-to’s for Resurrection Cookies.

5. Share the Gospel from Scripture – Your kids are never to young to hear that “Jesus died to save us.” Of course, the way you share this truth needs to be age appropriate. For instance, tell the biblical Easter story using tangible objects such as 30 coins, a large nail, and a small wooden cross as visuals to keep their attention. See this article on by Sandy Coughlin. And here are five Easter Mini-lessons for your family from Focus on the Family.

6. Experience the Easter Sunrise – Like the women who went to the tomb, be up and ready to greet the first light of Sunday morning. You can do this at an official sunrise service or in your own backyard. Friday was somber. Sunday is a celebration! (And don’t forget the pancake breakfast!)

I’d love to hear about your childhood Easter memories! Also, please share ways you celebrate Easter with your kids, grandkids, and other children in your life.

Other posts you may find helpful:

How to Know Jesus

Keep Watch with Jesus Tonight

5 Reasons We Need the Resurrection

Top 10 Bible Verses for Evangelism

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Do I Love God as Much as My Grandson Loves His Daddy?

My 19-month-old grandson Theo loves his daddy. I know what you’re thinking. All boys love their fathers. And yes, they do. But Theo loves his dad so much he can’t stop talking about it. In fact, I witnessed a scene recently between Theo and my son-in-law that prompted me to wonder if I love God like that.

It was Christmas Eve and all our family had gone to church together at 9am. After church we went to a local coffee shop to visit. My son-in-law Jeremy is on the church staff and had to meet us there a little later.

When Jeremy arrived, Theo ran to him calling “Daddeee, Daddeee, Daddee.” But what got me is what happened next. After Theo climbed in Jeremy’s lap and hugged him, he hopped down and ran to my husband, his grandfather. Theo touched Wayne on the leg, glanced back at Jeremy, then looked up at Wayne and joyfully said “Daddeee.” Then ran back to his father and climbed up in his lap again.

Theo did this 3 or 4 times before he finally settled down in his daddy’s lap. Each time he ran to Wayne, Theo’s “Daddee” included joy, excitement, and just a bit of a question. And all of us sitting there caught it. It was as if Theo wanted to make sure Wayne knew his daddy had arrived.

Theo not only adores his father and wants to be near him, he wants to share the wonder of his father with the other people he loves. As I watched this touching scene, God nudged my heart. I felt Him ask: Do you love me like this? So much you can’t help but tell others about me?

Why Do I Share Jesus?

Honestly, most of the times I’ve shared Jesus with others have been acts of obedience. I tell others because God has commanded us to tell. In recent years, I’ve been praying that God would give me a burden for the lost, that He would give me a heavy awareness of their eternal condition, so I would share out of a desire to help them.

But this is a different, deeper motivation. Do I love God so much I can’t help but share this joy with others? 

I wish I had a video of that day I told you about. I wish you could see the sheer joy on Theo’s face at his father’s arrival and his exuberance at sharing his presence with Wayne. Sadly, I don’t. But I do have another video that will give you a rough idea of Theo’s unbounded love for his dad.

My daughter Kelley took this video one day while Jeremy was out of town. Theo had been missing his daddy and couldn’t stop looking for him and asking about him. His 5-year-old brother tried to explain, but it wasn’t enough for Theo.

What about you? Do you love your Heavenly Father so much that you run to tell others how wonderful He is?

I pray we both grow in our love for God in this New Year. If you want to love God more, add your prayer in the comments! 

If you liked this post, these may be helpful:



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3 Reasons I Plan to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick's DayI have a fresh interest in St. Patrick’s Day this year. Since last March 17th I discovered that I’m sort of Irish!

For Christmas, Wayne gave me a DNA kit from It was something I’d been wanting to do. Basically, the test confirmed what I suspected – I’m basically a mutt, a pound puppy. But I was surprised by the top percentage. Thirty-one percent of me is Irish!

Perhaps, like me, you’ve considered St Patrick’s Day a fun, but frivolous observance – a day to wear green clothes, eat green food, and listen to Celtic music. However, there’s actually good reason to stop and consider St. Patrick.

A Really Brief History of St. Patrick

Patrick wasn’t Irish. He was born about 387 AD in Scotland. Although his grandfather was a priest and his father was a deacon, young Patrick did not embrace the family faith. Then at the age of 16, Patrick was kidnapped by Irish pirates and taken to Ireland and forced into servitude.

During his years as a slave, Patrick spent large amounts of time alone caring for the herds of his master. This life of slavery and solitude fostered a deep prayer life and Patrick came to true faith in Christ. In “The Confession of St. Patrick,” Patrick acknowledges that God used his time of trial to turn heart toward Him.

After six years of slavery in Ireland, Patrick escaped and returned to Britain where he continued his religious study. But it wasn’t long before a vision of a lost Ireland burdened him with the need to return with the Gospel. God was sending Patrick to a people that the church had decided was too lost to be reached – the pagans of Ireland were just too different.

In his mid-40’s – after becoming a bishop of the church – Patrick returned to Ireland as a missionary. He spent 30 years converting thousands of Irish “pagans” to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Patrick died on March 17th, 461 AD at the first church he built in Ireland.

Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland and although never officially canonized, early Christians consider him a “saint in heaven.”

3 Reasons I Care About St Patrick’s Day

  1. I’m Irish – Well, at least I’m more Irish than anything else and it’s the closest I will ever get to an ethnic holiday. So humor me.
  2. Patrick faithfully followed Christ no matter the cost – Loyalty to Christ and concern for the eternal state of his enemies led Patrick back to Ireland. He willingly and obediently faced danger to take the Gospel to Ireland. He constantly fought the temptation to leave the mission field and return home. Patrick even shared the Gospel with his old master. That’s bold faith!
  3. Patrick sets the example for evangelism – Patrick wisely separated the Gospel from the Roman culture, something the Catholic Church could not or would not do. Just as many Jewish Christians in the first century wrongly believed Gentiles had to first become Jews before they could become Christians, the church of the 5th century thought the “pagans” had to first become “civilized” before they could come to Jesus. But, Patrick shared the Gospel within the Celtic culture. He did not try to change their culture before he offered the Gospel. His method of evangelism freed him to embrace the areas of their culture that did not break God’s laws of righteousness. Like the apostle Paul, Patrick became “all things to all people so that by all possible means” he might save some (1 Corinthians 9:22). In this way, Patrick showed respect for the Irish and was able to build bridges and relationships that fostered opportunities to share the Gospel. By the way, Patrick used the 3-leaved shamrock to help explain the concept of the Trinity!

St. Patrick’s Day is not just a fun day of all things Irish. For those “in the know,” remembering St. Patrick encourages us to faithfully follow Christ no matter where He leads and to boldly share the Gospel of life with those in our path, no matter how different from us they may be.

How do you plan to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

Some helpful articles for more information on St. Patrick:

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3 Activities for a Meaningful Christmas

Meaningful ChristmasChristmas is just a little over a week away. If you’re like most people, you’ve been working to prepare for the big day since you stored the leftover Thanksgiving turkey in the fridge. So how’s that been working out for you? Do you feel more joyous or frantic?

It’s so easy to get caught up in the busyness and expectations of the season. Shopping, decorating, baking, cleaning. There seems to be no end. But much of that activity flows from a commercialized version of Christmas. And we don’t have to buy into it.

What should Christmas look like for us? How should we recognize and celebrate the birth of our Savior? A good place to begin is at the beginning. The biblical account of the very first Christmas shows us how those close to Jesus responded to His arrival.

3 Activities for a Meaningful Christmas

  1. Share Jesus – Remember the shepherds? The ones out in the field watching over their flocks by night? (See Luke 2:8-20). After they found baby Jesus in the manger – just like the angel of the Lord had told them – they couldn’t keep the news to themselves. They “spread the word” everywhere that the Savior had been born! Can’t you just hear them? The Messiah has come! The long-awaited One is here! We’ve seen Him for ourselves! The shepherds were the first in a long line of witnesses to the Savior. Who can you tell today?
  2. Ponder Jesus – If anyone in the first Christmas story had cause to “ponder” it was Mary. An angel’s visit. A miraculous pregnancy. And a bunch of shepherds with a wild story about an angelic choir. No wonder the Gospel writer penned “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). She had a lot to think about. A lot to hold close to her heart for God to apply in His time. We can “ponder” Jesus too. Take time before Christmas to sit quietly and consider what the birth of Jesus means for you.
  3. Worship Jesus – The magi traveled a long way to worship the baby King (Matthew 2:1-2, 11). Yet sometimes we simply forget. Or get too busy. Let’s not simply observe a holiday. Let us bow our knee before Jesus and worship our Savior, Lord and King.

What are some ways we can we share, ponder, and worship Jesus today?



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8 Tips for the Perfect Regift

RegiftHave you ever received a regift? Have you ever given a regift? The term “regift,” first coined by Jerry Seinfeld on his hit TV show, means to give as a gift something one previously received as a gift.

For instance, on my 40th birthday a teacher friend of mine gave me a nice bath salts ball neatly wrapped in cellophane and tied with ribbon. The gift label firmly stuck on the cellophane read, “To Mrs. Smith, from your student Susie.” Whoops! (By the way, names were changed to protect a not-so-savvy regifter.)

My regifting friend could have benefited from the regifting rules below. Please keep these in mind as you finish up your Christmas shopping – whether at the mall or in your closet. Then keep reading to the end of the post to find out about the perfect re-gift!

8 Tips for Giving a Regift People Will Want to Keep

  1. Check your motivation – Do you have good intentions? Don’t re-gift simply because you ran out of time. Make sure the item will be desirable to the recipient.
  2. Update the wrapping – Do not re-give a gift in its original gift bag if crinkled or torn, or even worse, in the wrapping paper it was in when given to you. Most importantly check for original gift tags and cards. These are a dead giveaway, as I well know.
  3. Don’t regift something you’ve used – This includes partially used gift cards; one gift receiver found a few grains of rice in a “new” rice cooker she was given.
  4. Don’t regift to the original giver – That means you’ll need to keep track of who gives you what.
  5. Certain things should never be regifted – Obscure books and CDs, fancy soaps, fruitcake, promotional items like pens and ball caps, or anything you hated when you received it.
  6. Don’t give something you’ve had for awhile – If it has a thick layer of dust on it or has a tag from a company that no longer exists, then it should probably not be re-gifted.
  7. Don’t give anything that tells on you – If it’s monogrammed or personalized in any way you’re shooting yourself in the foot. Check also for books signed to you.
  8. Never regift anything you’ve bought at a garage sale – I mean, that’s just tacky.

A Few Exceptions to the Regifting Rules

Most rules have exceptions. Here are a few for the rules above.

  • The receiver knows it’s a regift
  • You have another new gift to give them as well
  • The recipient was with you when you received the gift and expressed admiration
  • You know without a doubt they will absolutely love it!

Jerry Seinfeld may have coined the phrase, but he didn’t invent the regift. In fact, the first Christmas regift was given on the very first Christmas.

As soon as the shepherds left the stable they ran into Bethlehem to share the gift of the Christ-child with everyone on their Christmas list. (See Luke 2:17.) Anna, the old prophetess that Mary and Joseph encountered at the temple soon after Jesus’ birth, shared Jesus with “all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem” (Luke 2:38).

There is no better Gift to regive at Christmas – or anytime for that matter – than Jesus Christ. When we share Jesus, we point people to the hope, peace, love, and life that only Jesus can give. He is the Gift that keeps on giving.

What are some ways you can give Jesus this Christmas?

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Should Christians be the Morality Police?

morality-policeThe cultural norm in America has shifted dramatically in the last few years. In fact, almost every day, another story pops up in the news revealing an ever-widening gap between the world’s values and God’s standards. Our culture glorifies and increasingly normalizes attitudes, values, and behavior that blatantly contradict biblical standards for godliness. But should Christians engage in this cultural clash? And if so, how?

A Christian’s Purpose in the World

Sometimes Christians get so distracted by cultural skirmishes we lose sight of our prime directive. A quick reminder of God’s purpose for Christians in the world will help us better determine how we should respond to our culture’s changing values:

  • We are “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14).
  • We are God’s priests, declaring His praises to the nations (1 Peter 2:9).
  • We are Christ’s ambassadors, imploring the world to be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).

In Acts 20:24, the apostle Paul beautifully described this God-given task in the world as “testifying to the good news of God’s grace.” A Christian’s God-given purpose in the world is to introduce non-Christians to Jesus and His salvation. God has reserved judgment of the world for Himself (1 Corinthians 5:12-13), but we Christians often attempt to take His job. We expect non-Christians to share our standards, values, and viewpoints. When they don’t, we sometimes try to force them to accept and live by our Christian standards and worldview.

But forcing Christian morality on our culture focuses on the symptoms of the problem and not the cause – the need for Christ. It’s like a doctor prescribing aspirin for a brain tumor. We cannot change the world and its ways from the outside in. Non-Christians will naturally act like non-Christians. Without the indwelling Spirit, God’s standards seem foolish to them (1 Corinthians 2:14). A true change of values and behavior must begin with a heart change.

The Danger of Fighting Like the World

Christians often use the world’s tactics in an attempt to fight a spiritual battle. We flood our status updates and tweets with shock and indignation over the latest symptom of a spiritually dead culture. We demand a secular business conform to God’s standards with a boycott. The usual result? The culture labels us intolerant hypocrites and closes its ears to the message that can change their eternity.

Even if our efforts are deemed “successful” by the world’s standards, we must ask how a one-time temporary victory in a cultural skirmish impacts the greater spiritual battle. How do our efforts impact the name of Christ? Jesus invites the world to come to Him but we often throw stumbling blocks on their path. Rather than expressing Christ’s unconditional love for the sinner, our words and actions sometimes imply they must be “good enough” before they can come to Jesus.

Ed Stetzer describes this danger in a recent article at

Our desire must not be to prove ourselves right or to force our way on the world around us. Instead, our goal is to show Christ to be true and worthy. Just as wrong as running away from our culture is driving people away from the church. Countering culture doesn’t mean attacking it. Countering culture means engaging culture with conviction and compassion. We stand firmly on the truth of God, empowered by the Spirit, to extend the love of Christ to the world. Our desire isn’t to conquer but to redeem. It matters what we do, how we do it, and why we do it… A wrong response to culture is more than unhealthy or unhelpful. Engaging our culture is literally a matter of life or death.”

Christians Can Share Jesus and Counter a Godless Culture

Making the Gospel message our first priority doesn’t mean Christians simply go with the cultural flow. Armed with the proper goals, attitudes, and purpose, we can extend the grace of Jesus to the lost and stand firm on godly values and principles. Whether we’re considering a boycott, picket line, or social media statement, these guidelines can help us evaluate our cultural engagement:

  1. Keep the cause of the Gospel primary – Will our actions and words help or harm the spread of the Gospel? If I refuse to purchase Starbucks coffee or shop at Target will it help me engage my neighbor about spiritual things or hinder my opportunity to share Jesus?
  1. Model a godly lifestyle – When Christians refuse to conform to the world, the world notices. A Christ-like life points people to Jesus and causes them to glorify God (1 Peter 2:11-12). We don’t want the tone of our cultural engagement to negate our lifestyle witness. Will the way we choose to engage the culture foster respect or derision?
  1. Engage in gracious conversation – Public words of condemnation only hurt. Dogmatic diatribes close down lines of communication. But honest, grace-filled conversations within the context of relationship can spark interest in Jesus (Colossians 4:5-6). Always be prepared to lovingly, respectfully, and biblically speak to specific topics when asked (1 Peter 3:15).
  1. Do not support ungodly behavior –Sometimes Christians condone sinful behavior in a misguided attempt to be tolerant or relevant. For instance, after the Supreme Court’s decision last June to uphold same-sex marriage nationwide, many Christians added a rainbow to their social media profile photos.
  1. Do promote social change in positive, non-confrontational ways – Christians can vote, donate time and money, engage in politics, and support community efforts in ways that don’t invite confrontation and incite anger. Respectfully choosing to shop at a different store because of personal faith convictions elicits a different response from our culture than public words of condemnation. Supporting a crisis pregnancy center builds more relationships than an angry protest at an abortion clinic.

As we seek to share the Good News with the lost, let us be marked by our good deeds, not our opposition to the world. Let us be seen as for Christ, not as against the world.

This article first appeared at on May 18, 2016.

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3 Potential Dangers in Over-Celebrating the Trump Win

Trump winFor almost a week now, Christians across America have been celebrating the Trump win. And yes, if he follows through on his campaign promises, America could see a positive shift in many important principles.

I also long to see things like a stronger military and conservative Supreme Court judges, but I am concerned about the response to the election I’ve seen from many Christians. Since last Tuesday, praise, conservative high-fives, and victory laps have filled social media. It was as if believers had placed all our hope for the future in getting a republican in the White House.

But Trump cannot heal America. No man – or woman – can. Yet I see this prevailing attitude among Christians that we must “take back” American for God. It seems we’ve forgotten that the United States of America does not equate with the Kingdom of God. So why do we spend so much time and energy trying to conform the world to “godly values?” That is not the mission Jesus gave us.

Sometimes Christians get so distracted trying to conform the culture around us we lose sight of our prime directive. Our God-given task is to take the Gospel to the world (Matthew 28:18-20). To implore the world to be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).

The world needs Jesus, not dogmatic diatribes about right and wrong. Yet we expect non-Christians to share our standards, values, and viewpoints. When they don’t, we sometimes try to force them to accept and live by our Christian standards and worldview.

A “Christian America” won’t save the world. A conservative in the White House is not the answer to our country’s problems. In fact, “over-celebrating” this Trump victory may actually create a few problems.

3 Potential Dangers in Over-Celebrating the Trump Win

  1. Harm the Gospel –So many of our social media posts are divisive. Because Americans who voted for Hillary Clinton sincerely believe in liberal principles and values, our “celebration” fosters an “us against them” mentality. The world will simply close its ears to anything else we have to say. We have ruined any opportunity we might have to share the message of Christ.
  2. Handicap the Church – God’s people have a tendency to focus on the temporary and physical rather than the eternal and spiritual. But it’s nothing new. The disciples even asked the risen Christ if He was about to “restore the kingdom to Israel” (Acts 1:6). Trump’s temporal “victory” could easily distract us from our real mission. A republican president might be a cultural victory for conservatives, but it is not a spiritual victory for the Gospel. Our mission is NOT to shape the culture or build a “Christian” nation. Our mission is to share Christ with a lost world.
  3. Hinder our Growth – An American return to conservative principles could easily make us spiritually lazy. The more the culture looks like the church, the less incentive we have to conform to Christ-likeness. And a victorious attitude drops our guard. We may fail to purposefully “watch and pray,” always pushing forward toward our real goal.

This country does not have to be a “Christian nation” in order for God to fulfill His purposes in the world. Let us reveal Christ and share the life He alone offers. Simply Christ and Him crucified. America needs Jesus. Not a Christian political agenda.



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Less than a Gracious Witness

Gracious witnessI struggle with being the gracious witness God desires. One Tuesday morning years ago, I had a “traffic incident” on my way to lead ladies’ Bible study. I started the drive frustrated with myself because I left the house late. Then two stoplights from my destination, the driver of the only car in front of me sat through the green light without moving. While busily chatting with her passenger, she missed the opportunity to turn left. I “patiently” waited behind her for the next green light.

When the light changed to green again, she continued to chat, but failed to drive. So I hit my horn. And no, not a friendly, quick toot. It was a long, irritated blast. She slowly began to move and we both barely made it through the intersection before the light changed again.

As soon as I had the chance, I darted around her, tossing back one of those icy glares as I sped by. I approached the last light and got in the right lane to make my turn. I glanced in the rear view mirror. “Distracted Driver” was also in the turn lane. One block from church, a horrible possibility hit me. What if Distracted Driver was also headed to my church?

A community group also met in our church building on Tuesday mornings. She would see me go in and know I was one of those “Christian” women. I slowed to make the turn into the church parking lot. Another furtive glance in the rearview confirmed my fear. Distract Driver was turning too. I quickly scooted into the one remaining parking spot close to the doors and she made her way further down the lot. I ducked inside the building and into my classroom before she had time to get her seat belt unfastened.

The Holy Spirit swiftly convicted me. Instead of extending grace, I acted with impatience and anger. My behavior negatively impacted the name of Jesus. Instead of sharing the grace of Christ that day, I was just another example of a graceless Christian.

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,  keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 1 Peter 3:15-16, NIV

Grace lays downGod woos people to Himself with grace. Yet far too often our witness is anything but gracious. Sometimes our ungracious behavior reflects poorly on Jesus. Sometimes, our verbal witness lacks grace. And still other times our spiritual conversations simply fail to connect with the hearer.

Christians have experienced God’s grace in abundance yet sometimes we fail to share the Gospel of grace in a gracious way. God’s Word encourages us to be graceful witnesses, to behave and speak in ways that connect with others and honor Jesus.

What specific changes can you make in your behavior or speech to be a more gracious witness?

Other posts about being a person of grace in a lost world:

Want to learn more about being a person of grace? Particularly being a gracious witness? This post is adapted from Kathy’s new Bible study Lavish Grace: Poured Out, Poured Through, and Overflowing. Lavish Grace a 9-week journey with the apostle Paul that helps readers discover God’s abundant grace for their daily lives and relationships – explores what the Bible says about being a channel of God’s grace to others. You can find out more about Kathy, her speaking and writing, and find free resources at

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I love Jesus but…

Love Jesus butThe other day I saw a shirt for sale online with this printed across the front: “I love Jesus, but I cuss a little.” You can also get the slogan on a coffee mug, refrigerator magnet, or apron.

Seriously? Is this supposed to be funny?

Like every believer, I still struggle with sin. And I struggle in some areas more than others. But the goal is to defeat the power of that sin in my life, not to proudly advertise it’s hold on me.

You may be thinking I’m making too much of this. You may be thinking it’s just all in good fun. After all, none of us are perfect so why should we pretend?

But I believe the issue is too serious to make light of. Let’s see what the Bible says.

First, the way we talk is not insignificant. The Bible repeatedly warns us about our speech. Jesus said we will be held accountable for every word (Matthew 12:36). Believers should not allow any unwholesome word come out of our mouths, but only words that encourage and help others (Ephesians 4:29). The way we talk is no laughing matter.

Second, Jesus very clearly connected our love for Him with our obedience:

“If you love me, you will obey what I command. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in His love.” John 14:15, 16:9-10

God’s Word is clear. If we love Jesus, we will obey Him. The reverse is also true: if we don’t obey Jesus, it reveals a lack of love for Him. This covers everything – more than just our speech. I am not saying that if we truly love Jesus we will be without sin, but our sin will grieve us. We will long to grow in holiness, not to stay in our sin.

The third reason I believe this is a serious matter is because this slogan – and others like it – portray a warped and self-centered view of Christianity. Wearing this statement across our chest testifies to the world that we aren’t serious about following Jesus. Claiming His name, then in the next breath admitting you choose not to obey Him, minimizes the name of Jesus before the world. “I love Jesus, but I love myself more.”

Sin – all sin – is serious business, not a joke to put on a t-shirt. “Friendship with the world is hatred toward God (James 4:4).” God commands believers to not conform to the ways of the world (Romans 12:1-2). (See this post for more about compromising with the culture.) Instead we are to draw near to Him in confession and repentance. To grieve over our sin and allow Him to cleanse us and make us more like Jesus (James 4:4-10).

Let’s not boast about our sin. Instead let’s proclaim the name of the One who died to save us from it.

What do you think? Laughing matter or serious business?

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The Extra Time Illusion Principle

Have you ever noticed that when you have extra time to do something you are more likely to be late accomplishing it? I’ve seen it. I’ve experienced it for myself.

I’ve attended and led women’s Bible study groups for decades. With our busy lives, completing the homework each week can be a challenge. Sometimes seven days is just not long enough to get it finished. So, you’d think having 14 days – like a week off for Spring Break – to do one week would result in a greater percentage of the class members completing their homework. But no! In fact, with twice the amount of time, less women finish the week of study.

How can this be? More time results in less being accomplished? It is a strange phenomenon I call the “Extra Time Illusion Principle.”

You may have experienced this principle for yourself. It infiltrates all areas of life. For instance, maybe after the recent three-day Easter weekend you found yourself less ready to go back to school or work on Monday. And your long list of “to-dos” remained undone.

It seems the more time we have the greater the temptation to procrastinate. We feel we have “plenty of time,” so we can rest or play for a while first. But we get so involved in resting or playing or procrastinating and before we know it our time is up.

Not something to get too worried about when the only thing at stake is the weekend “honey-do” list. But what about when the stakes are higher? What if the stakes are eternal?

Sometimes the extra time illusion principle affects me spiritually. I procrastinate on eternal spiritual matters because I don’t consider Jesus’ return to be imminent. After all, He has already delayed for more than 2,000 years. Am I the only one or have you experienced it too?

We think we have plenty of time to give up that pet sin or get serious about our spiritual growth or tell our lost neighbor about Jesus. We will do that tomorrow. Or next week. And then before we know it, “later” turns into “missed opportunity” or “too late” or “never.”

In 2 Peter 3:9-14, Peter challenges believers to live lives that reflect the reality of Jesus’ sure return. The Lord does keep His promises. The Day of the Lord will come. The heavens and the earth will be destroyed by fire.

4 Ways to Battle the Extra Time Illusion Principle

In light of this frightening and glorious truth, how should we respond? What should believers be doing right now, every day? I see 4 things in this passage:

  1. Tell others about Jesus – The Lord has not returned because He wants everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). His “delay” is our time frame to share the Gospel. To tell our lost friends, family, and neighbors that salvation is found in Jesus!
  2. Live holy lives – God calls us to regular repentance and moment by moment obedience to the Holy Spirit. We should not conform to the attitudes and behaviors of the world. Instead, our lives must reveal the character of Christ to the lost world (2 Peter 3:11-12, Romans 12:1-2).
  3. Continually foster our relationship with God – We must be purposeful in pursuing our relationship with Christ. It takes discipline, effort, and TIME. Oh, but this is where we find peace and joy in a world that lacks it (2 Peter 3:14, 1 Timothy 4:7-8).
  4. Remember and anticipate Jesus’ return – God keeps His promises. Jesus will return. It could be tomorrow. Or even today. Find a way to remind yourself of this truth and learn to look forward to it! (2 Peter 3:8,12)

Will you join me in battling the “extra time illusion principle?” Jesus is coming back soon! Will I be ready? Will you be ready?

Have you been a victim of the extra time illusion principle? If so, in what way? How can you battle it?

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