Tuesday, March 18, 2008

God and the Unexpected

God loves doing the unexpected.

To make His grand entrance on this planet, He chose to show up as a helpless infant. For His victory parade through the streets of His city, instead of riding on a regal chariot, he rode on a donkey. And for His crowning achievement, the act by which He proved His supremacy over all of creation, He died.

It’s all so counter-intuitive, isn’t it? It seems so backwards. No wonder the prophets couldn’t figure it out. No wonder the angels were astonished. No wonder the religious teachers of the day completely missed it. No wonder so many people today find it ridiculous.

Paul said the cross is a stumbling block: “The message of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” It only makes sense when viewed with humble eyes. But isn’t that just like Jesus?

The cross is the ultimate surprise. Of course, the whole empty tomb thing was quite a shock, too.

So as we go into this weekend, when we’ll celebrate the humiliation of Jesus on the cross and His glorious victory over the grave, let’s remember that this is how He works. Unexpectedly.

Monday, March 03, 2008


Last Sunday, we started a new series on prayer called, Let it Go. You can listen to it here.


Anxiety is incredibly powerful.

It can take a situation that is ultimately insignificant and make it overwhelmingly important in our minds. It can magnify fear or pain or panic. It can keep us from sleeping, working, and feeling healthy. It can even keep us from trusting God and forgiving others.

Anxiety is incredibly powerless.

It can’t actually change reality. It brings nothing to bear on the situation that actually affects anything. Anxiety can’t change tomorrow; anxiety can’t change another person; and anxiety can’t change God’s sovereignty. As Jesus said, “And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to your life?” (Matthew 6:27)

Don’t get me wrong, we all feel anxious sometimes. I’ve read too many books that imply a “good Christian” should never feel anxious. Yeah, right. Jesus assumes we will struggle with it, which is why he teaches about it. The Bible never says that we won’t experience anxiety; it just says we should let it go. It says we should trade it in for peace.

Replacing anxiety for peace is a key purpose of prayer. Handing over our concerns to the King of the Universe is a very freeing experience. In response, He’s promised us a peace that “surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:6-7)—a peace that comes from His presence with us, His power in our lives, and His perspective on our problems.

As I was preparing the message on this topic, Abby and I learned that we are going to have another baby. Surprise! Talk about anxiety! So I decided to practice what I preach and I started praying about it. The anxiety didn’t go away overnight (and it hasn’t completely gone away). But there is a peace that doesn’t make much sense. And each time I pray, the anxiety gets smaller and the peace gets bigger. I think that’s the way it’s supposed to work.