He is Risen Indeed!

“He is risen!”

“He is risen indeed!”

For centuries, this has been the traditional greeting between Christians on Easter Sunday. It’s a greeting used in many Easter church services, with the priest or pastor saying, “He is risen!” and the congregation responding “He is risen indeed!” In some church services, congregants may use a Greek or Latin version of these phrases. For example, in the Eastern Orthodox church, the priest will say, “Christos Anesti!” (“Christ is Risen!”) to which the people respond, “Alithos Anesti!” (“Truly, He is risen!”). Roman Catholic priests may say the Latin, “Christus resurrexit!” with the people responding, “Vere resurrexit!”

No matter what the language is, the greeting points to the fact that, over 2,000 years ago, after giving his life for us on a Roman cross, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Messiah, the Savior of the world, rose from the grave, never to die again. Death was defeated. No longer do we need to fear death because, thanks to Jesus, although we will one day experience death, we will live. Jesus himself gave us this promise when he said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” (John 11:25-26 NIV)

Because Jesus rose from the dead and conquered the grave, death has lost its sting. 1 Corinthians 15:56 tells us “The sting of death is sin…” When Jesus died and rose again, that sting was removed. When we believe in Jesus, when we turn from our sins and follow him, we will no longer be judged by God according to our sins; instead, thanks to Jesus, we have been made right with God and we can stand in His presence for eternity.

When we say the words, “He is risen indeed!” we are affirming our belief that Jesus has done for us what we could not possibly do for ourselves – he paid the penalty for our sins, removing the debt that we owed. That is why Easter Sunday is the greatest day in history. That is why we celebrate this day. That is why we come together as Christians to remember what Jesus Christ has done for us. Christ is risen!

In an Easter sermon, John Chrysostom, an early church father, said this:

“O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory? Christ is risen, and you are overthrown. Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life reigns. Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave. For Christ, being risen from the dead, is become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen.”

Hallelujah! He is risen! He is risen indeed!

Peace! Be still!

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” (Mark 4:35-38 ESV)

The disciples had been with Jesus. They had heard him teach, seen him heal, seen him cast out demons. And that same Jesus who did all these things was right there in the boat with them. Yet when a storm arose, they panicked. They were gripped by fear. They thought Jesus didn’t care about them.

Aren’t we sometimes just like the disciples in that boat?

We walk with Jesus, talk with Jesus, we see him at work in our lives but, as soon as the storms begin to blow, we start to panic, we start to worry. We allow ourselves to give in to fear, anxiety, worry, and from that place of fear, from the place of anxiety or worry, we ask, “Jesus, don’t you see what I’m going through? Don’t you see the storms that are threatening to drown me? Don’t you care that my life is falling apart?”

Have you ever been there?

Let’s look at what happened when the disciples cried out to Jesus:

And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. (Mark 4:39 ESV)

Peace! Be still! Was Jesus talking to the storm? Or were these words also directed to the disciples? Was he just calming the wind and the waves, or was he also quieting the storm that was filling the hearts and minds of the disciples? Was he basically telling them, “I’m here with you and I give you my peace but, to experience it, to really know the peace that I give, you need to silence your fear and stop worrying. You need to be still, you need to stop striving and you need to trust in me.”

In Isaiah 26:3, the prophet Isaiah wrote:

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! (Isaiah 26:3 NLT)

In Philippians 4:6-7, the apostle Paul wrote:

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7 NLT)

When we are in the midst of a storm, when fear, anxiety, and worry begin to work their way into our minds, making us start to wonder if Jesus is there, if he really cares about what we are going through, we need fix our thoughts on Jesus, we need to put our trust in him. Rather than striving, rather than giving in to the fear and anxiety, we need to pray. And when we do, we allow the peace of God – shalom, shalom – perfect peace, to calm the storm we are facing. The peace that comes from God is a peace we can’t explain. It’s a peace that exceeds our understanding. 

In 2019, my wife, Linda and I faced a storm in our lives when she received a cancer diagnosis. The first thing that I felt when she told be about the diagnosis was numbness. My best friend in the world, the person I share life with, had cancer. But the next thing that I felt was peace. Linda felt it too. But if you had asked us why we felt peace, we could not have explained it. From a worldly perspective, it made no sense. But that’s God’s peace, a peace that goes far beyond our ability to understand.

It’s a peace that the world can’t give us. And it’s a peace that will guard our hearts and our minds as we live in Christ Jesus. Peace! Be still!

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188, USA. All rights reserved.

The Light Shines in the Darkness

During the Christmas season, many homes will be adorned with a decorated evergreen tree. This tradition began in Germany in the 18th century, where upper-class homes displayed a tannenbaum, or Christmas tree, occasionally decorated with candles. Candles were glued to tree branches with melted wax or attached by pins. In the late 19th century, candleholders began to be used for Christmas candles. But something happened during the Christmas season of 1879 that would change that tradition of candles lighting a Christmas tree.

In Menlo Park, New Jersey, Thomas Edison, after finally inventing a lightbulb that would last, lit up his laboratory and a nearby street with lights. Newspapers called it the “Village of Light,” and over the next several days of late December, hundreds of people came to see the tiny globes bursting with light at the complex where Edison and his staff worked and lived.

Just a few years later, on December 22, 1882, Edward H. Johnson, vice president of Edison Electric Light Company, had Christmas tree light bulbs made for him. He had the Christmas tree in his Fifth Avenue home in New York City hand-wired with incandescent bulbs the size of walnuts, in colors of red, white, and blue. Johnson became known as the “Father of Electric Christmas Tree Lights.” But, as the lights were too expensive for the average person, Christmas tree lights did not become the replacement for candles until around 1930.

Light has played a role in Christmas traditions for centuries. The purpose of the light, whether provided by candles, incandescent bulbs, or LEDs, was (at least in the beginning) to signify the light of the One for whom Christmas is named—Jesus Christ. John 1:1-5 says this about Jesus:

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Jesus is the source of all creation. He is the divine Word of God, who was “with God in the beginning,” the “Word through whom all things were made.” He is the source of physical life and light. It is through the Word that God “speaks” the living world into existence and the first thing that He created was light:

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. (Genesis 1:3)

Jesus is also the source of spiritual light and life. The Word that spoke physical life into existence is also the source of eternal life. It is only through belief in Jesus that we can receive that life. The Greek word translated as “life” in John 1 is zoe. It is the same word that Jesus used during the Last Supper when He said to His disciples:

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

Jesus is not only the source of eternal life. He is eternal life and the only way for us to receive the gift of eternal life is through Him. He is the “light of all mankind.” Just as physical light helps us to see the world around us, the spiritual light that is Jesus helps us to see divine truth and reveals our sin. The light of Jesus penetrates the spiritual darkness around us and brings light to our hearts and our minds. The One who brought physical sight to the blind brings spiritual sight to all who believe in Him.

When His light shines in our lives, we can see our sin and His glory, and that light shows us the path that we should walk on as it drives away the darkness that surrounds us. But we need to accept that light. We have a choice. We can walk in the light of Christ or we can refuse to see the light and remain in darkness.

As we reflect on the Christmas lights on our homes and on our trees, may we be reminded of the birth of the “light of the world” this Christmas.

The Love of a Mother

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. (1 Corinthians 13:7 NLT)

On my phone, I have an app called the Bible App, and one of the features of that app is the Verse of the Day. As I read today’s verse, 1 Corinthians 13:7, the first thought that I had was that this verse perfectly describes the love of a mother. It certainly describes the love of my mom, who passed away in 2007. It certainly describes the love of all the other mothers in my life, my wife, my daughter, my sisters, and all the other moms in my family. And so, as I write a post in this blog for the first time in months, I wanted to write about the love of a mother.

A mother’s love never gives up. She loves her children even when it gets challenging, when her children bring her to the end of her rope.

A mother’s love never loses faith. She has faith in her children because she has faith in the God who gave them to her. She believes that her children can be anything and do anything that they put their minds to.

A mother’s love is always hopeful. She never loses hope because she knows that her children are in God’s hands and that He has a plan for each of them, a plan to give them a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).

A mother’s love endures through every circumstance. Being a mother is not an easy task. There are good days and bad days. But a mother’s love endures no matter what. She loves her children when they bring home a good report card and when it’s not so good. She loves her children when they do things right and even when they do things wrong. She loves her children when they are sick, when they are well, when they excel and when they fail. Nothing can stop a mother from loving her children.

On this Mother’s Day, I am thankful to God for all the mothers in my life. They truly help me to understand His love for all of us!

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!

Fix Your Thoughts

In chapter 4, verse 6 of his letter to the believers in Philippi, Paul told them that they should not worry about anything. Can you imagine receiving a letter from someone telling you that? What would your response be? “Sure, Paul, easy for you to say! You don’t know what I’m going through. If you did, you’d be just as worried as I am! What do you suggest I do?” Paul answers that in the second part of this verse: “…instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.”

When we are worried about the problems we face, we need to take that worry to God and talk to him about what we are going through. We should tell him what we need at that moment and thank him for all he has done for us. The result is that God will give us what we truly need. Look at Philippians 4:7:

“Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

The peace that God gives is greater than anything we can possibly receive in those moments of worry and anxiety, and we are promised this peace when we pray and give thanks rather than give in to our worry and anxiety. Our situation may not change immediately, but we are promised that this peace will guard our hearts and our minds as we live in Christ. We need to pray, we need to give thanks, but we also need to do one thing more. Let’s look at what Paul says next in this letter:

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8)

Paul is telling us that we need to fix our thoughts on the right things. We need to fix them on truth. We need to fix them on what is honorable, what is right, what is pure, lovely, and admirable. We need to think about those things that are both excellent and worthy of praise. Doing all this means that we are keeping our minds off the things of the world. It means that we are keeping our thoughts focused not on our worries, not on our troubles, but on Jesus. It means living in Christ. And when we do, we have this promise:

“Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:9)


In a short poem titled “Joe Heller” which was published in The New Yorker magazine in 2005, author Kurt Vonnegut gave an account of a conversation between him and fellow author Joseph Heller. The conversation took place at a party given by a billionaire on Shelter Island. Mr. Vonnegut pointed out to Mr. Heller that their billionaire host made more in one day than Heller’s novel Catch-22 made in its entire history. Heller’s response was that he had something that the billionaire did not. When Vonnegut asked what that was, Heller responded by saying that it was the knowledge that he (Heller) had “enough.”

What does it mean to have enough? Does it mean having enough money that you are able to buy whatever you want, whenever you want it? Does it mean that you have everything you could possibly have and there’s nothing more that you could possibly want or need? Or does it mean that what you have is all you need, whether it is a lot or very little?

Ecclesiastes 5:15 says, “We all come to the end of our lives as naked and empty-handed as on the day we were born. We can’t take our riches with us.” In his first letter to Timothy, the apostle Paul mirrored that thought but expanded on it when he wrote, “Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content.” (1 Timothy 6:6-8) So it is clear from God’s Word that having enough means being content with having just what you need – food and clothing. In other words, what you need to live on. In fact, as Paul says in verse 6, being content is equivalent to great wealth.

But are we content with what we have? Is it enough? Or, as with the billionaire in Vonnegut’s poem, is “enough” something we can never have? Do we go through life thinking, “If I could just win the lottery, then I’d have all that I need?” Maybe we think, “What’s wrong with wanting more money?”

In 1 Timothy 6:9-10, Paul continued by saying, “But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.” The love of money can lead to disaster. Why? Because the desire for riches can lead us into temptation and that temptation can, in turn, cause us to seek out other desires far more evil. Our desire for more money can even pull us away from our faith in the one who has given us all that we truly need, eternal life with him in heaven, free from the chains of sin.

God knows what we need, and he will provide it. Instead of seeking worldly things, we should follow the instructions given by Jesus in Matthew 6:33: “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Hebrews 13:5 says, “Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, ‘I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.’” That’s a promise that is worth more than all the riches on earth. We need to be like Paul, who wrote to the church in Philippi that he had “learned how to be content with whatever I have.” (Philippians 4:11) Paul went on to say in verse 12, “I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little.”

Like Joseph Heller, Paul knew that he had “enough.” May that be said of all of us.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188, USA. All rights reserved.

What Drives Your Faith?

I sat in my office reflecting on God’s Word as I prepared for our Wednesday night prayer service. As I thought about the many prayer requests that we had received that week, the Holy Spirit put an image on my heart. It was an image of one of the many people in the Gospel who were healed by Jesus, the woman who had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. In Mark 5, we read that this woman had been treated by many doctors, spending her life’s savings, but still had received no relief. In fact, as we read in Mark 5:26, she had gotten worse. So now, she crawled on her hands and knees through a crowd of people, seeking to get close enough to Jesus to touch his robe. She had faith that Jesus could heal her. As she touched Jesus’ robe, she was immediately healed, and Jesus told her that it was her faith that made her well.

As I reflected on the faith of that woman, the thought that came to my mind was that she had a faith that was driven by her desperation. The Holy Spirit then started speaking to me about faith. He reminded me of the four men who, being unable to get through the door into the home where Jesus was teaching, took their paralyzed friend to the roof, tore a hole in that roof, and lowered him down to Jesus. Jesus saw their faith and healed their friend. They had a faith driven by their compassion for their friend.

Finally, the Holy Spirit reminded me of the Roman centurion, who sent some Jewish elders to ask Jesus to heal his servant, who was sick and close to death. Jesus went with the elders but, before they arrived at the centurion’s home, the centurion sent men to stop them. The centurion gave them a message to bring to Jesus (Luke 7:6-8): “Lord, don’t trouble yourself by coming to my home, for I am not worthy of such an honor. I am not even worthy to come and meet you. Just say the word from where you are, and my servant will be healed. I know this because I am under the authority of my superior officers, and I have authority over my soldiers. I only need to say, ‘Go,’ and they go, or ‘Come,’ and they come. And if I say to my slaves, ‘Do this,’ they do it.” Jesus marveled at the faith of this Roman centurion and healed the servant. That centurion had a faith that was driven by his knowledge. He had heard about Jesus. He knew what authority meant, and he knew that Jesus had authority over sickness and death, and that all Jesus needed to do was say the word to heal the servant.

What drives your faith? Is it driven by desperation that has come after you’ve tried everything but still have not seen a solution to your problem or healing from an illness? Is it driven by compassion for someone you are praying for, a friend or family member? Is it driven by knowledge? You know the authority Jesus has over sickness or other trials, you have seen Jesus come through for you before and you know that he will do it again. Whatever drives your faith in Jesus doesn’t really matter. All that really matters is that you have that faith. Faith can move mountains. Look at what Jesus says in Matthew 21:21-22:

Then Jesus told them, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.”


On a recent visit to my eye doctor, as the doctor was checking my eyesight, she inserted various combinations of lenses in the machine and asked which was better.

“Which is better? One…,” she asked before flipping to the next lens, “…or two?”

“Well,” I responded, “two is better, but I’m seeing double.”

“Okay,” she said. “How about three… or four.”

“Three is definitely better. But I’m still seeing double.”

After a few more combinations of lenses, with the same result, the doctor looked at me and said, “I think you have cataracts.” She then proceeded to examine my eyes and determined that the lenses of my eyes had become significantly clouded by cataracts, enough to require corrective surgery. The cataracts were clouding my vision, and I was not seeing as well as I should have been. And so, I was scheduled for cataract surgery in both eyes.

In Ephesians 5:8, Paul begins by telling us that we were once in darkness. That darkness was the result of sin, and since all of us have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), we all walked in that darkness. But Jesus is the Light of the World, and when we choose to follow him, we no longer walk in darkness but have the light of life. Through Jesus, God has rescued us from the darkness we were in, and as Paul continues to say in Ephesians 5:8, we are now light in the Lord and need to live as children of light.

We can live as children of light when we choose to be obedient and walk in the way that Jesus taught us to walk, when we follow the two greatest commandments: love God and love each other. Scripture is very clear that we cannot have one without the other. 1 John 2:9-11 says, “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.”

We can choose to live in light, to reflect the light of Jesus, or we can choose darkness. We can choose to see things clearly or to be blinded, not by the light, but to the light. We can choose to see the path we are walking perfectly through healthy eyes, or stumble in the darkness through blind eyes. We need to have our eyes fixed on God and not on the world. If we allow our eyes to be focused on the world, rather than on God, the light will turn to darkness.

I had my second cataract surgery this past week. The difference between how I saw the things around me before the surgery and how I see them now is drastic. Things are brighter. Why? Because the new lenses implanted in my eyes are allowing more light into the eyes. As I look around now, Jesus’ words in Luke 11:34-36 have taken on new meaning:

“Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are healthy, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are unhealthy, your body also is full of darkness. See to it, then, that the light within you is not darkness. Therefore, if your whole body is full of light, and no part of it dark, it will be just as full of light as when a lamp shines its light on you.”

Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. The New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011).

The Lord Will Fight for You

10 As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. 11 They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”

13 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:10-14, NIV)

The Israelites had already witnessed the power of God as He forced Pharaoh’s hand to let them leave their captivity in Egypt. They had witnessed His faithfulness to His people as He struck down the firstborn son of every family in Egypt, yet spared the firstborn sons of Israel. They had seen Him turn the hearts of the Egyptian people toward them as they willingly gave them items of value. And yet, despite all this, when the Israelites saw Pharaoh and his army pursuing them as they were fleeing Egypt, all that they could do was panic and cry out in terror. They turned against Moses and began to wish they had never left Egypt.

But Moses still trusted in God and in His faithfulness. He told the Israelites not to be afraid but instead to stand firm as the Lord brought them deliverance. He told them that the Egyptians whom they now saw pursuing, they would never see again. And then, in Exodus 14:14, Moses said, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” They did not have to lift a finger. God saw their distress. God saw the danger that they were facing. God saw what they saw, but God also saw the outcome. And that outcome meant that the freedom that He had promised His people from their captors would come to pass, not because He would equip them to fight off the Egyptian but because He would do the fighting for them.

As I read these verses in Exodus 14 this past week, one phrase stood out to me: “be still.” I put it aside, but it kept coming back to me: “be still.” Believing that God was trying to tell me something through these words, I decided to do a word study and discovered that the Hebrew word translated as “be still” actually means to be silent. But it also means “be deaf.” God was telling the Israelites to be deaf and be silent. As I reflected on this God began to speak to me.

How often do we (I include myself here!) look at the circumstances that we are facing and forget about all the times that God came through for us, the times when, through His great faithfulness, He has brought us through one difficulty, one struggle after another? How often do we grumble and complain as the Israelites did when they found themselves stuck between the pursuing Egyptian army and the Red Sea? Why is it that we find it so hard to remember what He has done for us in the past when facing new worries, new problems, new challenges? Why do we seem to have amnesia when it comes to relying on the faithfulness of God to bring us through these things?

I believe it has everything to do with where we focus our hearts in those moments of life. It has everything to do with what voices we are listening to. It has everything to do with what words we allow to come out of our mouths. We listen to the voice of the world. We listen to the voice of the enemy of our souls. And we listen to the voice of our own weaknesses. What we need to be listening to is the voice of God. What we listen to will ultimately affect the words that come out of our mouths. When we listen to the wrong voices, the words from our mouths will be words of doubt, words of fear, words of anxiety and worry, or words of hopelessness. So what do we need to do? We need to be still.

As I mentioned before, the Hebrew word translated as “be still” in Exodus 14:14 also means to be deaf, to be silent. What God was telling the Israelites, what He is telling us, is that when we face the challenges in our lives, we need to be deaf to the voices that tell us that it is hopeless. We need to be deaf to the voices that create doubt, fear, worry, and anxiety. And we need to be silent. We need to quiet our hearts, to quiet our tongues, and listen to the voice of God. When we do these things, instead of focusing on what’s in front of us, instead of focusing on the problems we face, we will focus on the faithfulness of God. God promised that He would fight for the Israelites, and He was faithful to that promise. He parted the Red Sea, allowed the Israelites to walk through on dry ground, and then caused then buried the Egyptian army in a watery grave. All they needed to do was stop focusing on what they saw, stop focusing on what they heard, and be silent while God came through.

If you are facing a difficult circumstance, if worry, anxiety, or fear are causing you to forget all that the Lord has done for you in the past, remember the words of Exodus 14:14: The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.

Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. The New International Version, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011).

Get Used to Different

2020 has been a very different kind of year. We have had to do everything in ways that are different, including church. For many churches, services have been online only, for most of the year. For others, while there may have been indoor services, they were done at smaller capacity with social distancing and face coverings in place. Ministries in our churches have been done differently, if at all. Many of us may be saying that we don’t understand all of this, we don’t like it, because it is not what we are used to. It’s not the way we want church to be. It’s different!

Even Christmas is different this year. Kids are still having pictures taken with Santa but now they’re separated by plexiglass barriers. Christmas shopping is still taking place but shoppers are standing in lines on stickers spaced 6 feet apart on the floor, while everyone is wearing a face mask. Many stores are offering curbside pickup so that shoppers who choose to can avoid entering the stores at all. Christmas pageants, Christmas concerts, and many other similar traditions are done via livestream or not done at all. And church services, candlelight services, and other forms of Christmas worship are, in many cases, happening only online. Christmas 2020 is not what we are used to. It’s not the way we’d like it to be. It’s different!

As I reflected on all of this, I was reminded of an episode in season 1 of the television series, The Chosen. In this episode, there is a scene in which Jesus calls Matthew, a tax collector, to follow him. Peter doesn’t understand why Jesus would choose a tax collector to be one of his followers. When Jesus reminds Peter that some people didn’t understand why he chose him as a follower, Peter responds that “this is different” because Matthew is a tax collector. Jesus replies, “Get used to different.”

We don’t like “different.” And, at least when it comes to the things I have mentioned here, we don’t want to “get used to different.” We want things to be the same as they have always been. We want things to be what we’re used to. But maybe God is telling us that we need to “get used to different.” Now, I’m not saying that God is telling us that things will stay the way they are now, in this time of a pandemic. But maybe he is saying that we need to be willing to do some things in a way that we haven’t before. Maybe, when it comes to how we do church, how we do ministry, even how we share our faith, we need to “get used to different.”

When this pandemic is finally behind us, some things will go back to what we consider “normal.” Other things may change. We may find that God wants us to do some things in a different way. But no matter what may change, no matter what may be “different,” there is one thing that will never change. And we can see that in Hebrews 13:8, which says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” The way we do church may change. The way we celebrate Christmas may change. But what doesn’t change, and never will, is that Jesus came to earth over 2,000 years ago. He came as a tiny baby, born in a stable in Bethlehem. And, as a man, Jesus would give his life so that our sins might be forgive, so that we might have eternal life. That will never change!

Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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