It's the question that haunts us for most of our childhood:
What do you want to be when you grow up?

Then we go to high school:
Where are you going to college?  What will you major in?

Then in college:
What are you going to do with that degree?

Then after college:
What will you specialize in? 

Then at every single social event you ever go to for the rest of your life:
So, what do you do?

Not that there's anything wrong with the questions.  It's just become a part society and polite conversation.  But the questions are a bit obnoxious.  And if we're not careful, we can let these questions and social niceties become something more: we can let them change the way we see the world.

These questions presuppose that we're supposed to know everything about our lives.  We're supposed to have a plan.  A direction.  We're supposed to 100% know what we're going to do and where we'll be five years from now.  There's something to be said about planning for the future and being purposeful in life, to be sure.  At the same time, this planning-in-advance can easily become the idol of Control.  And the idol of Control leads to the idol of Comfort.  The internal dialogue goes something like this: Quite frankly, I want to live a comfortable life, and the more I control, the more I can make my dream of comfort a reality.  Therefore, I will plan and plan and plan and implement that plan at any cost.  After all, I know what's best for me.

The other thing these questions presuppose is a certain idea of success.  We plan and implement plans because that's what it takes to become successful.  And we need to become successful because successful people are important.  They make something of themselves.  And those who can make something of themselves can really become someone.


Something I learned through adversity is that each individual has tremendous value: this isn't self-confidence believe-in-yourself hogwash, but rather this value comes from God Himself.  Every person has a reflection of the divine nature, a reflection of God Himself.  Above and beyond that, every Christian has been declared worthy by Christ Himself.  It does not matter what we do or what we plan.  We don't have to make something of ourselves to become someone.  God has already "made much" of us, and there's really nowhere further "up" the ladder we can climb.  We're already there.

Our Feelings are Wrong

Furthermore, a friend recently reminded me that God isn't locked-into our plans or lack of plans.  This seems basic and dumb, but it was a timely reminder, all the same.  In this crazy thing called life, we may feel trapped by certainties that won't go away, or by uncertainties that plague our minds.  But either way, our feelings are wrong.  God is never trapped.  Ever.

Related Posts: Asking the Wrong Questions 

Random Thoughts

I don't really have a cohesive post today, but instead I'll share some of the things I've been thinking about.

1) A lot of people rely on me for prayer for very important things. Others have always been faithful to pray for me, but do I return the favor? And as I expand my "circle," I add more people and more relationships to my life. I am truly blessed to be in community again, but that also carries with it the responsibility to minister to others.

2) Unexpected/ unplanned conversations with people are fun and beneficial.

3) A word of wisdom or encouragement can come from any number of sources. (See #2)

4) It's easy to become paralyzed when overwhelmed. The trick is to start somewhere. Then keep going. I didn't know how to study for one of my classes, but I started with the first issue and worked my way from there. I showed my professor this morning, and he was really impressed with my work. I didn't start off planning to make something fantastically amazing, but if I didn't start, the opportunity for "fantastically amazing" would never have come.

5) The flip side of #4 is sometimes we need breathers. The trick is to have productive breathers that are actually relaxing instead of just vegging in front of the TV or computer and then feeling guilty afterwards. Last night, I finished my reading for class and then decided to take the rest of the evening off, guilt-free. I sat down with a Dorothy Sayers book and was rewarded.

6) I'm fairly certain the "perfect man" is British. And fictional. (See Dorothy Sayers in #5)

Willing Spirit, Unresolved Mind


The following is a guest post from a younger friend of mine, Setsuna, who I have had the privilege of knowing for a number of years.  As both a writing and spiritual exercise, I encouraged my friend to write a series of devotionals.  This is the first of what will hopefully be many to come.

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12 – 13

The world is an unfair place. Think about it: countless children are born to abusive and/or neglectful parental figures, several people live homeless because they have no means of earning adequate cash, and many people are sent overseas for the sake of human trafficking even to this day.

Likewise, sometimes people who seem to be the most heartless in the entire world tend to be at the top of their game. Countless dictators and warlords have successfully conquered lands and claimed hundreds of lives throughout the history of our planet. Sometimes, people have to take the blame for others who get away with their own misdeeds. The kid who sits next to you in class might always talk to you after your teacher says “no talking”, and then when you respond just to get the other person to quiet down, you’re the only one who gets caught.

All this really makes you wonder: do people really get what they deserve? Where’s the karma in this world?

Truth is, on this side of our lifetime, there really isn’t an answer to that. I know that would be an answer that NOBODY wants to hear, but truth is, the world is run by unfair and imperfect people. There’s a reason why utopic literary pieces are always listed under “fiction”. It’s because a society made up of perfect people is non-existent in our war-torn, sin-infected world. However, one can always rest assured that one day, they *WILL* live in an actual utopia (yes – a REAL-LIFE, ACTUAL UTOPIA!). And only one condition is required…

The sole condition is to surrender your heart to the Lord. When you have God on your side, there is nothing that can stand in your way of a better future. Even if your good future seems like it will never come, remember that it will come in eternity someday. When you’re on the other side, you will see this better than you ever will before.

Not only will surrendering your heart to God promise you a good future, but it will also promise you hope. When all else fails, the Lord will be there. Sometimes, things don’t go as planned, but that’s because we’re human. Humans generally focus on the here-and-now, since that’s what they’re currently going through, and a lot of us get too wrapped up in our temporary, physical lives to think much about our eternal lives.

Remember: your life is but a tiny pebble in the universe when compared to eternity. Where you will be when that day comes is much more important than where you are right now. If you’re fretting, you may be thinking, “how can I ultimately get through this and to where I want to go?” Instead, try thinking, “how can I use what I’m currently given to bring glory to God in the long run?”

The End of Suffering

Sorry for going off-grid.  I normally write my posts on the weekends, but the majority of this weekend was spent "on the go."  I figure that now is a good time for a couple of guest posts.  This one is by Alex F.  Though he sent this to me awhile back, as I re-read it, I feel ministered-to all over again.  The Truth of Scripture truly is timeless and applicable for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in all righteousness.  Praise be to God!

Have you noticed how difficult it is to see the end of a struggle when you are in the midst of it?  It seems like once you hit the floor, just lifting your head is unbearable.  Okay, maybe that is a bit too melodramatic and poetic, but it’s true!  When you are in the thick of things, one of the greatest problems is not seeing how it could ever end.  There are about a million sermon illustrations for this idea.   One memorable illustration is of the swimmer embarking on an epic swim across the English Channel who gave up when the fog rolled in and obscured the opposite  shore.  They no longer could see the goal, no longer could see how close they were to the end, and they gave up. It wasn’t until it was all over that they saw just how very close they were to the end.  They would have finished if only they had persevered.  See, a good lesson for all of us, if only knowing there is a problem equated solving that problem.

This all comes to mind because I decided to take a moment out of my day (just a moment, mind you) to take stock of how my week has gone so far.  It was a tiring and stressful week mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.  Finally it was over and pretty much the culmination of all that and a return to normalcy, or as normal as I can get, anyway.  And I thought, how did you get here, Alex?  I thought back to the beginning of the week and how utterly exhausting it was.  Only by prayer, perseverance, and the grace of God, I made it through.  And although my circumstances really didn’t change throughout the week, no other subsequent day was as difficult as that first. 

However, I distinctly remember thinking on that first day, “I can barely make it through today, I will never last like this.  It is unbearable and it will not end.”  There was no reason I thought this trial should or would ever end.  I prayed that it would, but I hardly believed God would answer my prayers.  But, in the moment, it was enough just to know that He heard them.  Now, looking back, He clearly did answer my prayers because after that first day I wasn’t faced with the thoughts, accusations, and feelings that had discouraged me so.  And in God’s wisdom and grace those trials did not leave me empty handed.

 Now, looking back, the word I hear from God is that our suffering lasts but a little while.  Though we cannot always see it, there is an end.  And it is more than just an end, but is the hope for a new beginning in the fullness of life in the hope of Christ Jesus.  So persevere!  Draw on the strength of the Spirit and put one foot in front of the other.  The goal is at hand!

I could have used that encouragement earlier this week, to correct my hopelessness.  God does meet us in our suffering, and this is the joyous Truth that got me through my struggle More importantly, though, He is our deliverer.  He is mighty to save us from our struggles and sins, trials and temptations.  He is faithful and true to deliver us to Himself.  Though the trial may last for the night, joy comes in the morning.  And no matter how long the night lasts, a day, a year, a “season” or even the rest of your life: God is mighty to save.  He will lead His children home and He will wipe away every tear and we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever!

Current Playlist

Dear friends,

This week has been particularly challenging for me on personal, professional, and familial fronts.  Please keep my family and I in your prayers, as there are challenging times ahead.  The following are some songs that I find particularly uplifting, and I thought I would share in hopes that they would speak to you in your own individual circumstances.

God bless you all.


"Our God in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name above all names
Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven
Give us today our daily bread;
Forgive us weary sinners.
Keep us far from our vices, and deliver us from these prisons."

The House You're Building


The Coldest Heart

Your Love is Strong

My prayer life kinda sucks.

(depone of flickr, CCSA2.0 and re-released under CCSA3.0)

(luckily my friends are really Christ-like)

The Answer is Christ

1 Colossians 1:15-23

He is the image of  the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

When we don't understand what we can't see: Christ is the image of the invisible
When we feel worthless: Christ is the One through whom we were made
When we feel purposeless: Christ is the one for whom we were made
When our world is falling apart: Christ holds all things together
When we feel far from God: In Christ dwells the fullness of God
When we are at war: Christ makes peace
When we were dead: Christ died to give us life
When we are sinful: Christ presents us holy
When we are filled with shame: Christ declares us above reproach
When we are buffeted by lies: Christ is our stable and steadfast rock
When we are discouraged and dismayed: Christ gives us hope

Sorry, God. I'm not that "type."


Two weeks ago, a commenter responded to my post on how Meekness really is like being a doormat, and I have been spending my time this week addressing some of the commenter's concerns.

First, I answered the question of whether meekness is a requirement for salvation.

Next, I answered the question of what meekness is, exactly.

Today, I am addressing the commenter's third question, which I rephrased the question to read:

"Does a person have to change their fundamental personality in order to fulfill the command to be meek or gentle?"

Like the first question posed on Monday, this hits on a very important aspect of the Christian faith that goes beyond our discussion of meekness and gentle

The issue is this:
God tells me to be A, but I'm more like B.  A and B are incompatible.  Is God telling me I have to change who I am?  Isn't God supposed to accept who I am and leave me be?

"That's just not who I am."

Have you ever told God, "That's just not who I am"?

Someone told me this argument once.  She used it as an excuse for screaming at, scratching, and physically attacking her child in anger.  (As a legal aside, at the time of this revelation by the mother, the child was grown and well out of harm's way.)

Her argument was, "I am an angry person.  This is just who I am.  Sure, I might not be the best Christian.  And I might not be the best parent.  But this is who I am, and I've reached a state of peace with myself.  God will have to accept me for who I am."

Yikes.  But while it's easy to blame this woman and point at her extreme response, don't we do the same thing?

God, I'm an impatient person.  I want results, and my employees don't live up to the expectations required by this office.  You want me to be patient, but I'm not that type.

God, I'm a meticulous person.  I want to plan out every aspect of my life.  I'm just being careful and looking ahead.  You want me to have faith and trust your Sovereign plan, but I'm not that type.

God, I'm A.  You want me to be B, but I'm not that type.


In one sense, these excuse-plainations have a point.  We are that type.  In fact, the Bible says so.  We are fallen.  We are sinners.  Our natural flesh is spiritually dead.  We are angry, impatient, and faithless.

In another sense, these statements are completely false.  Yes, we are fallen sinners, but we have been saved by grace. (Ephesians 2:8-9) Our natural flesh is spiritually dead, but we have been made alive with Christ. (Ephesians 2:4-6) We have been raised from the dead.  We have been given a heart of flesh to replace our hearts of stone. (Ezekiel 11:19) We are new creations. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

We have been made new!

We can become that type of person God wants us to be.

God loves you too much to leave you where you are.

God loves us.  He came to us, took on human form, and died for us.  He extended forgiveness and salvation and holiness and adoption to us.  He loved us while we were yet sinners, but he doesn't want us to stay in our sin. (Romans 5:8)

We were once dead IN sin, but now we are dead TO sin. (Romans 6)

Don't waste your newfound life.  Why live as defeated individuals, when we are "more than conquerors" in Christ Jesus? (Romans 8:37)

The Christian is linked to Christ.  A metaphor describing this relationship is that Jesus is the "vine," and we are the "branches" extending from Him. (John 15:1-17) When we are connected to Him, we "bear fruit."  This "fruit" includes the characteristics I discussed on Wednesday: compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, forbearance, and forgiveness.

Why?  Because Christ loves us.  In His wisdom, he knows that the best thing for us is to be as connected to the Best Person in the universe.  And we cannot be connected to Christ without being changed by Him.  He won't let us stay where we are, and quite frankly, we won't want to.

So what if you're A?  You might not become B overnight.  You might not even ever become B.  It might not be easy.  It might not be fun.  But Christ will empower you to stop acting like A and start becoming like Him, and you won't regret it.

What is meekness?

Continuing from Monday's discussion of meekness and salvation, I will now address the second question our commenter posed:

Does meekness mean we have to be gentle?

 Well, let's look at some verses on meekness:
  • Numbers 12:3 says that Moses was the meekest man on earth.  However, it doesn't really tell us what made him meek, so this is marginally helpful.
  • Psalm 45 mentions someone who "rides out victoriously for the cause of truth and meekness."  I find this interesting because meekness is not something we generally associate with victory, yet there is a clear connection between the two here.
  • Psalm 37:11 and Matthew 5:5 both mention that the meek will inherit the earth, but still not actual definition of meekness.  This lets us know that meekness is a quality to be desired, but still doesn't entirely tell us what meekness is.
These other verses are a bit more helpful
  • 2 Corinthians 10:1 gives a description of Paul, who invokes the meekness and gentleness of Christ.  He lumps the two qualities together: meekness AND gentleness.  Also, he also launches into a discussion of humility, boldness, and confidence.  This discussion seems to indicate that all these qualities are related.
  • Colossians 3:12 gives a list of traits that the believer should develop: compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, forbearance, and forgiveness.
Now I have to admit that my understanding of meekness is not purely based on these verses alone, but rather that my belief is consistent with these verses.

One cannot exhibit meekness without first coming from a place of strength.  I find Christ's example and also the example of God/ the King in Psalm 45 to be compelling in this area.  One must choose to become meek, but if a person is simply weak, he does not have the liberty to make that choice.  However, if someone who is strong chooses to become weak for the sake of another, I would then call that quality "meekness. "

Borrowing from the language of 2 Corinthians 10, when someone chooses to become weak, he does so because he is confident in himself and in God and makes this bold choice on the basis of 1) who he believes he is in God regardless of how others interact with him and 2) his heart for others.  In this way, Christ (who was himself God), Paul (who had direct revelation from Christ), and Moses (who spoke with God Himself) all exhibited meekness in their dealings with very stubborn and very sinful people.

Meekness is often coupled with gentleness because there really isn't any other way to be meek.  Meekness will necessarily express itself in a gentleness toward others.  Christ humbled himself and chose a position of weakness out of his heart for humanity and the lost.  He could have come to us in judgment, but he came to us in gentleness.  This is why Colossians 3:12 mentions the list that it does: compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forbearance, and forgiveness.  How can you have one without the other?  They are all in the same "family" of traits.  But, really, it can be said that they are also all manifestations of love.  That's why these three remain: faith, hope, and love, but the greatest of these is love.

The greatest commandment is to love God and love one another.  While obeying God's commandments are not a requirement for salvation, remember that those who love Jesus will obey his commands.  And as we grow in Christ, we will develop Christ-likeness.  No greater love is there than this: that he lay down his life for his friend.  In this, Christ is our example and our guide.  Just as Christ loved us and came to us in meekness and showed us gentleness, so also should we strive to love and meekly show gentleness toward others.

Dialogue with a commenter


Like most bloggers, I check my blog stats from time to time.  It lets me see which posts work, which ones don't, and which ones get Google hits.  Apparently the search terms "Jesus was not a doormat" and "meekness does not mean weakness" are rather popular, which has made this post (and personal favorite) my top searched-for post.

I have been wanting to expand on that post because there is a ton more I could say, so it was only a matter of time before someone posted a question in the comments:

does meekness mean that we have to be gentle.........what if one is the kind of person that is not d quiet i have to be meek before i can make heaven.

These are all excellent questions.  Instead of answering in the comments like I normally would, I will go ahead and answer in a series of posts for the rest of the week.  This way, I can give a longer and (hopefully) more accurate answer, as well as open up the floor for any other readers who would like to chime in.

This is by no means an exhaustive explanation or list of Scriptural references, so again, any contribution to the discussion in the comments would be much appreciated.

The Breakdown

The comment basically asks three questions: 1) What is the difference between meekness and gentleness; 2) Does a person have to change their fundamental personality in order to fulfill the command to be meek or gentle; 3) Is meekness a requirement to go to heaven.

Today, I will start with Question 3 because I think it is the most important, and I will leave the other two for later.

Requirements for Salvation

While the subject of this question is meekness, this addresses a broader question.  What is required to go to heaven?  There are a lot of commands in the Bible.  On top of those commands, there are a lot of additional demands that seep in from the Church.  Where does one stop and the other begin?  Where does salvation come into place?

Acts 16:31 says, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved"

Romans 10:9 says "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."

From these verses we learn that salvation involves a special sort of belief about Jesus and God that affects one's heart (believe in your heart), recognizes Christ's victory over sin and death (that Jesus was raised from the dead), and recognizes Jesus' Sovereignty over our own lives (calling him "Lord.")

To relate back to the question, those who are "saved" are the ones who go to heaven.

Now nowhere in these verses does it say that one must believe in Jesus AND be meek.  Or believe AND anything else.  (There is another verse dealing with baptism, but that would constitute a post of its own.)  With the exception of baptism, however, nowhere in the Bible does God give a requirement that says one must "believe AND" do anything else.

Jesus is sufficient in all things.  He saved us when we were sinners, and, yes, we will still have sin when we go to heaven.  This means that none of the "saved" are going to be kicked out of heaven for not being meek.

A Laissez-faire faith?

However, part of Salvation is recognizing Jesus' Sovereignty.  Furthermore, the point at or process through one is saved is when God's Spirit "enters" the life of the believer.  The new believer becomes a new creation- the old has gone, and the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)  For this reason, it is expected that the new creation will not live according to old habits- the believer has been saved by Christ and loves Christ, and those who love Christ are also those who obey His commands.  (Ephesians 4:21-24, John 14:21).  Furthermore, "faith without works is dead." (James 2:14).

Note the language: if someone is a believer, then he will exhibit these traits.  The believer is a new creation, puts aside the old state of sinning, puts on a new attitude that desires to please God, loves and obeys Christ, and exhibits a faith that also includes works.  These are signs of believers, not requirements for believers.

No one is perfect, but we are running the race set before us and striving for the prize that draws us heavenward in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)  Being drawn heavenward means becoming closer to Christ, and part of this process is allowing the Spirit to work in our lives and exhibit signs of Christ-likeness.