True God

The True God

We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding , so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Little Children, keep yourselves from idols. - 1 John 5:19-21

This week we reflect on Christ, the True God.

The whole world lies in the power of the evil one.

Earlier this week I came across a passage at the end of Genesis that I had never given much attention to. It is nearing the end of Jacob’s life, Joseph and his brothers have been through their whole saga and the brothers just don’t seem to understand that Joseph could have possibly forgiven them for all they did to him. Watch what they do, and pay attention to how Joseph responds.

Read Genesis 50:15-21

Joseph Reassures His Brothers
15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” 16 So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: 17 ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept.
18 His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said.
19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.

(NIV, I added emphasis)

Two things jump out when I read this.

Forgiveness, true forgiveness, can be extremely hard to accept. Joseph accepted his brothers to Egypt in a time of intense famine. Joseph had a peace about all of this that came from God alone. Forgiveness takes two to tango. Forgiveness was already given to them… all they had to do was accept… but then…

Joseph’s brothers still just could not believe that he could have possibly forgiven them. So they lie to Joseph.

They LIE. Their inability to accept Joseph’s forgiveness leads them right back into the same sin that got them there in the first place. Our own doubts and fears influence us in the same way. We tell ourselves a story, true or not, and it can lead us to sin. 

Second, Joseph wept. I’ve thought about that a lot. Did he know they were lying? Or did he just not believe that they could still think he intended them harm after all that had happened? Did their brokenness and entrapment in their delusions bring him to tears?

Jesus is the TRUTH. He’s the real deal. His words are truth. His presence is truth. His message is truth.

What truth about Christ do you doubt?

Do you believe He is your advocate?

Do you accept that He could forgive you? Of all your sins? Of all your future sin?

Do you believe He LOVES you?

Do you believe His Spirit is at work in you? Whispering in your ear? Like Paul urging the Corinthians, do you not know that you yourself are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?

Do you believe he is good?

These are the deep truths of God that can be so hard to grasp at times. The evil one wants us to believe that these things just can’t be. Because he knows when we doubt this truth, we respond just as Joseph’s brothers. We react out of that doubt instead of walking in truth.

So… stop walking in doubt. Walk in the truth of Christ. There is freedom in that walk. There is everlasting life in that walk. There is complete absence of fear in that walk. Believe it. Live it.

PRAY. Father God, you are good, you are the true God. Help me to live in the freedom of your truth by showing me anew your goodness in the midst of my uncertainty. Fix my eyes, my mind, my soul, and my heart to your truth, your goodness. You are all I need, all I desire. From every fear, every desire not of you, deliver me, great Deliverer.

Worship. I am captivated by this song - read these verses, find yourself in them, respond to God, ask for His deliverance. 


Verse 1
From the love of my own comfort
From the fear of having nothing
From a life of worldly passions
Deliver me O God

Verse 2
From the need to be understood
And from a need to be accepted
From the fear of being lonely
Deliver me O God
Deliver me O God

Verse 3
From the fear of serving others
Oh and from the fear of death or trial
And from the fear of humility
Deliver me O God
Yes deliver me O God

Christ, The Messiah

As we begin today I thought it would be fun to just have a laugh to start off. I came across this video this week on Facebook. I laughed and laughed, and hope you will too.


Eee-eye-eee-eye-O! HAHA!

Clearly, this was done as a parody. It was put together by Park Community Church in Chicago - they have multiple campuses and from what I can tell on Facebook and their website, they are “contemporary” in their worship services. Humor is often such a great way for us to reflect upon places and ways we have fallen short. 

Because I was interested, I went to read the comments below the video… only to be discouraged. These type of videos and posts, while funny, often provide a platform for people to talk about their preferences of how things are in “contemporary worship” nowadays. It breaks my heart to see such a great video taken to places it was never intended to go. While there is truth to the humor - some songs are not rich theologically - some songs do the very thing that the video presents… 

Honestly, I’ve written songs like that. (sad face emoji)  I've written lines like "grace that gracefully graces me," only to scratch it out eventually. Songwriting is a practice, and you only get better when you actually practice... anyway...

The truth is there are so many great songs coming out of the church today. So… rather than going down the rabbit trail of personal preference in worship, let’s use this humorous video to reflect on how we should engage our minds in worship.

We should carefully pay attention to what we are singing at church. We should be engaging our minds as we worship Christ. 

This week we are reflecting on Jesus the Christ, the Messiah.

Take a minute. Take a deep breath.

Pray. Father God, stir up my affections for you. Reveal to me more and more the unstoppable, unbreakable, and forever nature of your Kingdom. You made a way when it seemed impossible. Kingdoms on earth come and go, leaders rise and fall, but you are constant. You remain. Remain in my heart, Lord. Amen.

A couple weeks ago a friend of mine had a great idea for us to try in worship. 

READ a well known hymn. 

So, today, let’s try this together. Let’s reflect on Christ, the Messiah by reading this song. Begin by reading it out loud. 

You Are My King (Amazing Love) by Billy J. Foote

I’m forgiven because you were forsaken.

I’m accepted, you were condemned.

I’m alive and well you’re Spirit is within me

Because you died and rose again.


Amazing love

How can it be

That You my King

Would die for me

Amazing love

I know it's true

It's my joy to honor You

In all I do I honor You


You are my King

You are my King

Jesus You are my King

Jesus You are my King


Read it again, but slowly this time - and actually out loud *wink* - give it a try. This time allow your mind to focus on just one line of the song. What line speaks to you the most?

When we slow ourselves down to just read the words of the song, we engage in an activity of critical thinking. Singing is an activity of expression. Our expression changes the deeper we embody the words we are singing.

I love this song. The verses captivate me. The truth of the Gospel is captivating. It’s really incredible that I never tire reflecting upon the mystery of Christ. Read these verses again.

I’m forgiven… because you were forsaken.

I’m accepted… you were condemned.

Our Messiah is worthy of our undivided worship. He is worthy of our unrelenting devotion and praise. In our personal and corporate worship may we be immersed in body, mind, soul, and spirit. May we adore our Messiah with our heart, soul, mind and strength. May we be engaged and present. Our Messiah is with us.

If we allow for our worship to become anything less than wholehearted devotion, we run the risk of falling into routine worship, God spoke through Amos to warn Israel of this very type of worship (see Amos 5:21). Christ desires our whole heart, our whole mind, our whole self. May we seek to offer it to Him in every way we can. We can do this together, church. Let's hold ourselves accountable. He is Worthy.

Read. Phil 2:1-18

Who Is, Who Was, Who is to Come

This week we reflect on Rev. 1:8.

8 “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

The One Who Is

Last week at the Global Leadership Summit I was browsing the book selection and a title popped out at me, “Present Over Perfect.” Kristin and I both picked it up and have been slowly reading it and processing it together. 

What does being “present” mean to you?

When are times in your life when you can remember being fully present?

Who were you with? What were you doing?

Earlier this week I was trying to carry my keys, laptop, books, my Yeti cup, and my journal all at once. I realized that I definitely didn’t want to drop my computer. So, I set down by books and cup convinced that I would come right back for them. I arrived to my office and proceeded to go on about my day, from one task to another. Sometime around 4:30pm I was wrapping things up and was walking my normal route when I saw them... My books, my cup were still there from this morning… waiting for me to retrieve them. It would have taken maybe 30 seconds for me to go back and retrieve them earlier that morning. Maybe you call it forgetfulness but the reality is, I just left them there.

As I’ve reflected on this idea of being present, I’m ashamed to say that I often leave far more behind than a Yeti cup. Too many times I’ve missed out on the relational interactions in my immediate surroundings because I simply can’t quiet the many things going on inside of my mind. The emails, the deadlines, they just keep coming. After all, things need to be done, right? Productivity is all too often king. I juggle so many tasks at once - go from one thing to the next - and if I’m not careful time flies and I’ve not been present for any of it.

The hard part for me is this… when I read the Gospels, clearly Jesus was not this way. He was genuinely present in every interaction He had. He was in the moment. He cared. He loved.

Christ wants to remind us that He is always present. He always has been, He always will be. He was present at the creation of the universe, setting the stars in place one by one. He was present with His people in the depths of their despair of exile. He was present with His disciples and all those He encountered in His short time on earth. And He is present now. Right now. With you as you read this.

So SLOW DOWN. Breath in now one slow breath. It is a gift from God. May you be present with Him. He’s here now. Isn’t that incredible?

Slow down when your with your spouse, your children, your grandchildren. Enjoy every little moment, conversation, gift that God has to offer you throughout your day. Live in these moments. Be present.

He is our ultimate example of presence. The one who is, who was, and who is yet to come.

Read. Luke 18:15-17

Pray. God, gracious and compassionate, thank you for your constant and consistent presence. I am desperate to silence the noise. Teach me to be present as you are present. Clothe me in compassion for others. Amen.






Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go. Matthew 8:19

This week we reflect on Christ our Teacher. 

Last week was a whirlwind. I know to expect it. Each year our church hosts the Global Leadership Summit. It’s an incredible leadership conference put on by Willow Creek in Chicago. 

I serve in the role as “Producer” which basically means I’m in charge of everything that happens in the room where the talks are presented. We set up all of the sound, the lighting, the environment, the technology and everything else that helps make the messages be communicated as clearly as possible.

We set the scene.

We chase the technological bunny rabbits all week - at times they can be hard to chase down.

We do all of this because we believe in the GLS. 

We believe when a leader gets better, everyone gets better. (to quote Bill Hybels)

This year, I learned so much! Bill Hybels spoke about the different leadership lenses we wear. The image that stuck with me was the self adjusting glasses. Have you heard of these? They are a real thing. Designed to send to all over the world to help people adjust their own prescription. Pretty incredible. Leadership means constant readjusting. 

As I reflected on this idea it became clear to me. Christ was constantly stretching the disciples, those he encountered to see things differently. 

When the children appeared a problem, Jesus says, “No let them come to me. The Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matt. 19:14)

When we thought the priest would stop for man on the side of the road, Jesus inserts a Samaritan as the hero. Not at all who they would expect. (Luke 10:25-37)

When Jesus himself was threatened and his disciple grabs the sword, and cuts off a guys ear! Jesus reaches down and heals the damage done to his captor. (Luke 22:47-52)

Remember that Christ wants to stretch you. He wants you to adjust your vision to see things as He sees them.

Allow your stubbornness to be interrupted. Allow your tense muscles of knowledge to be stretched. Allow Christ, the great teacher to reveal to you His Kingdom, one interaction at a time.


Jesus Christ, Son of God have mercy on me, a sinner. Great Teacher, I am ready to learn. Show me the places where I need growth in my heart, my mind, my spirit. 


Listen and look for times in your everyday interactions and thoughts for Christ to teach you something new. 


Luke 10

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary,who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[a] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”


This week we reflect on Jesus our Deliverer.

Read. Romans 7:14-25:

14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

21 So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. 22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

Jesus Christ came to deliver us from sin.

Reflect on that a minute... Christ is our deliverer. 

If you have come to faith in Jesus Christ, you have had to wrestle with this reality. You've had to come to grips with your own sinfulness. You, like Paul, recognize that you still do the very thing you know not, and want not to do.

As I've reflected on Christ, our Deliverer. I've realized that it can be all too easy to pitch Christ as a "way out" of a bad situation. Things aren't going well, we've tried and tried our hardest to fix things ourself, only to find ourselves unable to resolve our situation.  I've seen and even felt the comfort that Jeremiah 29:11 and passages like it can give us. 

When nothing else works, Jesus is the answer. 

I'm sorry to be blunt, but this thought process is a dangerous beginning to one's journey in faith. 

Jesus is the answer. FIRST and foremost to the bigger problem - sin. He actually DELIVERED us from something far worse that our current life situation.

Let me clarify: what I'm NOT trying to do is minimize life's difficult times. Christ LOVES US in them, He is there through each one of life's highs and lows. Without question. 

The reality is, Christ came to the earth not to make things easy for live's individual difficult seasons. Christ came to earth to Deliver us, redeem us, rescue us from sin. 

And it is THAT reality - that part of God's plan - that gives us a "hope and a future" in times of trouble - we are REDEEMED by Christ our Deliverer from sin and death. Once we realize what a HUGE DEAL that is, our life situations pale in comparison to that amazing truth. And here's what's really cool, once we grasp that reality - we receive healing in those difficult moments of life because all of the sudden they aren't so daunting.

Deliverance from sin means we are delivered from life, even through the struggles of life.

Why did Jesus go around healing, performing miracles? Because he knew that signs grab our attention - they do. Nothing quite says power like making the blind see, the deaf hear, the disease cured. He also cares and loves us in our place of weakness, He knows our needs, and he heals. But stack all of those miracles up, how amazing they are, next to the resurrection. What's more miraculous?


In her book, Bittersweet, Shauna Neiquist's words echo my own.

"I prayed to be rescued, not redeemed. I prayed for it to get easier, not that I would be shaped in significant ways. I prayed for the waiting to be over, instead of trying to learn something about patience or anything else for that matter." (Bittersweet, p.18)

Why do we worship Christ our Redeemer - our Deliverer? Because HE is WORTHY. Because he actually did what seemed impossible. May we thank God for deliverance first. Then may we cast our anxieties to Him and release them to Him in full confidence, because we know that if he could Deliver from sin, there is NOTHING He can't do.

May we pray to be continually washed in his redemption, pray to be shaped significantly, pray to learn through patience. And may we know that his plan was for the hope and future of the world. 

Now we can face live's difficult moments in the light of the deliverance of Christ.

Holy One

Each week in worship at FBC Athens we draw our attention to a specific characteristic or name of Jesus. This week, we reflect on his holiness. 

Holy. What does that word mean to you? God is Holy. What does that mean to you?

Have you ever been completely taken back by His holiness?

Are you drawn to God's holiness?

What does God's holiness look like to you? Christ's holiness?

For me, the image that immediately comes to mind for me is the grand canyon at sunrise. Now, there are so many beautiful places in the world but there is just something about the grand canyon that speaks deeply to me. I've never felt so small. Yet at the same time, I've never felt more a part of God's incredible creation.

The grand canyon (especially at sunrise) is a deeply spiritual place for me. Go ahead - google it. The images look fake - edited - high contrast. If you've ever been there you know... they aren't even close to the real thing. It is such a beautiful site to take in - it looks like the most beautiful postcard or photo - but there is depth to it that is hard to comprehend. 

The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide, with a depth of over a mile (6,093 feet). I can read that and try, but my eyes and mind strain to even comprehend this vastness. And we are talking about a tiny piece of the desert in North America. God created the universe!

VY Canis Majoris (the largest known star) would be as big as 2,600 times the size of the sun. And about 1.3 million earths could fit inside of the sun. MIND BLOWN! That's 1.3 MILLION grand canyons (x 2,600)...

And lets not forget the minute details of creation... all the muscles, nerves, and brain synapses it takes to pick up a pencil or write a blog post.

Ok I'm going to stop. 

I've been reflecting on the holiness of God this week and this depth, this desire for comprehension is drawn to how He could create with such artistry and on such a scale, yet desire for a relationship with us...

It's honestly terrifying. 

Moses was allowed for God to cover his face and see God as he passed only from behind. His reflection of the Glory of God was so great that he literally terrified his people to the point that he had to wear a head covering.

The residual reflection of God's real presence terrified all of God's people.

HOLY HOLY HOLY - overwhelmingly set apart and terrifiyingly powerful, words can't describe, the universe can't contain, that which is our GOD. He is HOLY. HOLY. HOLY. 

A book I'd recommend if you would like to search deeper into the holiness of God is RC Sprowl's book - The Holiness of God. He notes:

"Only once in sacred Scripture is an attribute of God elevated to the third degree. Only once is a characteristic of God mentioned three times in succession. The Bible says that God is holy, holy, holy. Not that He is merely holy, or even holy, holy. He is holy, holy, holy. The Bible never says that God is love, love, love; or mercy, mercy, mercy; or wrath, wrath, wrath; or justice, justice, justice. It does say that he is holy, holy, holy that the whole earth is full of His glory." (RC Sprowl - The Holiness of God - I added the bold and italics)

AW Tozer (another great theologian and christian thought leader) captured my attention with this quote:

"The stiff and wooden quality about our religious lives is a result of our lack of holy desire. Complacency is a deadly foe of all spiritual growth. Acute desire must be present or there will be no manifestation of Christ to His people." (The Pursuit of God)

So, let's consider a dangerous prayer, the prayer of Moses in Exodus 33:18, "Show me your glory, I pray." Let's chase after our Heavenly Father's holiness. Lets bow in reverence and fear. Let's rejoice and dance in the beauty of His creation. Let's grow in HIM through our holy desire for more. 

Read. Ex 33:12-23, 34:29-35

Pray. Show me your Glory Lord. Reveal to me glimpses of your holiness. Awaken my heart. Reignite in me a desire for your holiness. Make me holy, for you are holy. 

This Week's Setlist:

Open Up the Heavens - Vertical Church Band

Agnus Dei - Michael W. Smith

Holy Spirit - Bryan and Katie Torwalt

O Come to the Altar - Elevation Worship