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Cul-de-sacs or Conduits?

I’ve been reading Michael Reeves’ Delighting in the Trinity during my morning devotions and one thing struck me as he was describing how God works in creation. He speaks of God’s love in creation and then spends a page and a half detailing what the Puritan Richard Sibbes said of God’s bountiful nature in making all things fruitful. Reeve’s paraphrases Sibbes’ meaning as follows:

“That is, God is simply bursting with warm and life-imparting nourishment, far more willing to give than we are to receive.”

He then makes note of what Sibbes says the effect of this life giving God should be on his followers:

“Those that are led with the Spirit of God, that are like him; they have a communicative, diffusive goodness that loves to spread itself.”

I had never made the connection between the triune nature of God and how he wants his children to emulate him. Of course we are to grow in Christlikeness but how? What does this look like? Most of the time I focus on the lists, the do’s and the don’ts. But I think we learn more of what we’re being called to when we look at the nature of God and notice the clues from his creation. If God is this life-imparting fountain, this being of ineffable generosity, then it would make sense that his creation would be designed in such a way that in order to be most healthy and most blessed, it would give and love and multiply for the good of others. It would not be like the Dead Sea which is a terminus, a cul-de-sac, if you will. Always receiving, but never giving out.

And what about us? What about me? Am I a cul-de-sac? Do I receive the blessings of God for my own benefit without passing them on? Do I hoard them for myself alone? Or am I a conduit of God’s blessing and love, spreading his blessing to others? Lately I have felt a kind of conviction about certain behaviors that goes beyond the black and whiteness of do this/don’t do that. This new kind of conviction is pointing me higher, to the calling of the Christian to be like this ever-blessing triune God.

Amy Carmichael wrote a book of poetry called Toward Jerusalem. In it, she has a poem that has become a prayer for me and now takes on deeper meaning as I meditate on the triune nature of God.

Love Through Me

Love through me, Love of God,

Make me like Thy clear air

Through which unhindered, colours pass

As though it were not there.

Powers of the love of God,

Depths of the heart Divine,

O Love that faileth not, break forth,

And flood this world of Thine.

Even the Sparrow

“Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O Lord of Hosts, my King and my God.” Psalm 84:3

I’m not a person who regularly does yardwork or gardening. It’s actually a little embarrassing how often I kill plants. But the one thing I try to do at least a couple times a year is trim the holly bushes in the front of my house. I could use a manual hedge trimmer but I have a lot of holly bushes and I don’t want my arms to be sore for days afterwards. So at least twice a year a drag out the electric hedge trimmers, search in the garage for the extension cord, and crouch down on my front stoop to plug them in.

Many years ago I was doing my duty, filled with energy and determination. I wanted these bushes to look nice. But as I started hacking away I noticed a bird making a lot of noise. I ignored it for awhile but as I went down the row of bushes, the squawking and carrying on just got louder. “What is up with this bird?!” I thought to myself. Then I heard something else. The high-pitched beggings of baby birds. Oh no! In my haste to make these bushes look just so, I hadn’t noticed the fragile little family that had made its home in the bush. That poor mama was doing the only thing she could do to prevent me from killing her young, besides going full on Alfred Hitchcock and pecking my eyes out!

I thought of that experience with hedge trimming as I was meditating on this verse in Psalm 84. Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young. Birds don’t build nests in dangerous places. They take time to find places that are hidden and secure from harm. As they gather the tiny twigs, bits of grass, and pine needles for their nests, they are preparing a place where they will lay their eggs, where they will sit patiently for their defenseless young to emerge. Those little ones won’t be able to leave the nest for a while so these mama birds find places where they know their fragile eggs and soon to be needy babies will be safe and undisturbed.

But look where these sparrows and swallows, some of the smallest and most humble creatures, find a perfect haven to hatch their families. At your altars, O Lord of Hosts, my King and my God.

If these tender creatures could find safe refuge for their offspring at the epicenter of the Temple, the place where the psalmist yearns and faints to be, what is keeping us from drawing near to God? Through our precious and great High Priest, Jesus Christ, we have gained entrance to that epicenter, to the very Holy of Holies. And we are exhorted to draw near with boldness. Yes, boldness to this throne of grace.

“Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

Let me share Spurgeon’s thoughts on these verses. He once preached a whole sermon on Psalm 84:3. You can find it here. But here is a part of what he says:

Let us learn, then, from the sparrow finding her house near to God’s altar, that although we are inconsiderable and insignificant, although we are full of needs and although we may even deem ourselves to be uninvited, yet we are at liberty to come to the Savior and find in Him our eternal dwelling place! There we may find a safe refuge from every danger, a perfect security for all time, and even for all eternity. O you who think yourselves despised and forgotten, remember that the sparrow has found a house on God’s altar! Come, then, and see if there is not also space there for you! Jesus said, “Him that comes to Me I will in no wise cast out.”

None of the Above

Prayer is interesting and unpredictable. It can be as simple as asking the Lord to help you remember where you placed your keys. I’ve done that more times than I’d like to admit. It can also be hard and frustrating, especially regarding those big prayers, the ones that have to do with our loved ones and their futures. We may go through times of frustration, filled with the temptation to give up. We cry out with those common laments, “How long, O Lord?” “Why?” These are the hardest prayers because they require me to keep coming back, to keep offering up my desires, to keep submitting my will to the Father and wait. At the first offering, I know what I want and I tell God. But over time, when I don’t see the answer I want, I’m faced with a choice. Do I quit praying about it? Do I adjust? I’m left pondering in my frustration and finitude. I thought I knew what to ask for. I thought I knew what was best in this situation. I thought my will aligned with the Lord’s. Using my own fractured wisdom, I may end up praying through a list of choices. ‘A’ would be great, and that’s what I spend a lot of time on. But then ‘A’ is not happening, so I go to ‘B’. ‘B’ is ok, not my first choice, but something that is still acceptable. I can pray my way into accepting it. But over time, ‘B’ becomes more and more unlikely. ‘C’? Not really, Lord. I would rather not, but perhaps, if too much time goes by, I could get used to it.

Maybe I’m the only one who prays like this, but I suspect not. In the Bible we have a picture of some who prayed for a long time but we don’t ever get an inside look at the daily struggle. Take Isaac and Rebekah for example. In Genesis 25:21 we learn that Isaac prays for his wife who is barren. The very next sentence says that the Lord grants his prayer. But it isn’t until verse 26 that we learn how long he had prayed. Twenty years! Have you ever noticed that? I didn’t until maybe the tenth time I’d read it. What did Isaac go through during those twenty years? How did his prayers change? What did they sound like? Did he start out with option ‘A’ and then move down the line to ‘B’ and ‘C’? Did he ever stop praying for a time? He had witnessed his father’s faithfulness and heard his prayers. He saw God provide the ram for that fateful sacrifice and his wife had been the undeniable answer to the prayers of Abraham’s servant. Isaac must have been confused. He knew the promise God had made to Abraham and his seed. He, not Ishmael, was the chosen seed. But then, after 20 long years, God answers. And with twins. Twins with a promise. Rebekah doesn’t just carry the weight of two children but the weight of two nations. Did Isaac have that option on his prayer list?

In Luke chapter 1 we learn of another couple. Zechariah and Elizabeth. Elizabeth was also barren and they also prayed. For many many years they prayed until they were both advanced in years and the physical evidence of their bodies made their dream impossible. What were those years of prayers like? Did they start out dreaming of a large family and a future filled with grandchildren? Luke tells us they were righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments. They may have thought it was a sure thing. But as the years went by perhaps they went from asking for ‘A’ to asking for ‘B’. Then they may have switched to ‘C’ but after more time, realized it wasn’t going to happen. Surely they had stopped praying, right? But in Luke 1:13 we hear the angel proclaim to Zechariah that his prayer has been heard and Elizabeth will bear a son. And not just any son. She will bear the one who will prepare a people for the coming of the Lord. What?! This is not what he expected. This option probably never entered into his prayer vocabulary during those silent years. Zechariah responds with unbelief and bears the consequence of months of muteness followed by a flood of Spirit filled prophecy after John is born.

What we expect is not always how God answers. But we know from Jesus’ own words that we are to keep asking, to keep seeking and knocking. When God’s children ask him for bread he will not give them a stone. If they ask for a fish he will not give them a serpent. God never lies to us and he never tricks us. He means to give us good things. But those things are not always ‘A’, ‘B’, or ‘C’. Sometimes he makes us wait a long time for ‘D’. What is ‘D’? None of the above. And ‘D’ is always far more abundantly beyond all that we can ask or think.

“God will either give you what you ask, or something far better.”
Robert Murray M’Cheyne

Delighting Yourself in the Lord

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

Many of us know this verse and love this verse. Perhaps though we focus too much on the last part of the verse. I want to talk about the first part, this delighting in the Lord. How exactly do we do this?

I have wondered this for a long time. I’ve prayed through this verse and asked the Lord to teach me how to delight myself in him. This past week I may have found a key to doing it. I was studying Psalm 100 and pondering the commands contained in it. We are called to make a joyful noise and to come into his presence with singing. There are seven commands in this psalm and they all center around worshiping God. Worship is obviously not a Sunday-morning-only thing.

Then I realized how little I worship God from Monday to Saturday. I read my Bible and I pray, but do I worship? And do I get to the heart of worship which really is delighting in God? I saw a severe lack in this area of my relationship with the Lord.

The end of Psalm 100 contains the reason why we are to obey those seven commands to worship God. “For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.” I began meditating on that and was struck by how little joy I have day to day compared with how amazingly great God is. My choice of adjectives are anemic compared to what he deserves, but as I pondered and thought on who God really is, I was struck by how lackluster my joy has been. He is worthy of so much joy and in the day to day of living I barely express any of it.

So this past week I’ve been hunting down worship songs and doing more singing. It hasn’t been easy because I have never really transitioned from CDs to digital music. I don’t have an easy way to carry it around. But I do have an old car that still has a CD player. So I’ve begun to do more singing and worshiping in the car. And I’m going to find more good worship music on a digital platform so I can carry it with me and worship while I work and run and go about my day.

We were made to worship God. We were designed to find our soul satisfaction in him. And part of what it means to delight yourself in the Lord is using every means available to nourish your soul in who God is and who he is for us. I’m sure there are other ways to do this besides singing, but this is where I am going to start.

“Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul! I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.” Psalm 146:1-2

Just Pray?

Many times I find myself saying and thinking things like, “I wish I could do something more than just pray.” That statement makes prayer seem like an impotent afterthought. But that’s not how the Bible portrays it, not by a long shot.

In Ephesians 6, Paul says to put on the whole armor of God and concludes that section by exhorting us to “pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.” Prayer is an indispensable and integral piece of our spiritual armor.

In Philippians 4 he tells us to be anxious for nothing, but to pray about everything. Prayer with thanksgiving is the pathway to peace.

In 2 Corinthians 1, Paul details the afflictions he’s endured, some of which brought him near to death. Then he says, “You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many.” The prayers of the saints bring real help and blessing resulting in much thanksgiving to God.

In Colossians 4, Paul asks for prayer that God “would open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ…” He then describes Epaphras as a servant of Christ “always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.” Prayer opens doors to the gospel and moves God to build steadfastness and maturity in those who receive and believe it.

In James 5, James exhorts the believers to pray for all kinds of things. Pray for those who are sick. Pray and confess your sins to one another. Then he says, “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” He further encourages them to engage in prayer by speaking of Elijah and saying that he was a man just like they are, and Elijah’s prayers effected a drought. Prayer can do much more than we can imagine.

The next time I’m tempted to think of prayer as a last resort I need to remember how powerfully Scripture speaks of it. Dwell on the incredible privilege and opportunity to intercede, asking Almighty God to act.

“The most important lesson we can learn is how to pray.” EM Bounds

The Other Side of the Story

I got ‘behind’ in my Bible reading lately. Don’t you hate that word, ‘behind’? It’s not like anyone is holding me to a schedule beside myself. But being the ‘upholder’ that I am, I decided to play catch up and read the last half of Judges all at once. Dark. Depressing. There’s just no way to look away from all the evil done by God’s people in that book. It seems there is no one in Israel who really knows the Lord and is faithful.

But light shines on the very next page with the very next book. When we read the Bible in chunks or in ways that aren’t chronological, we sometimes miss out on the timeline of the story. We can miss lessons that we otherwise would see. Ruth begins with an important detail: “In the days when the judges ruled…” Wait! This familiar story is happening during the dark days, during the time when I thought no one was faithful. From one perspective the story looks like that. But Ruth tells the other side of the story.

There was a prophet named Elijah. One time he had a battle royale with the prophets of Baal and he prevailed. But then his life was threatened by wicked Jezebel and he ran away. He was left alone in the wilderness. Alone with his thoughts and questions. Is anyone faithful? Is God still there? God questions him and Elijah declares his loyalty: “I, even I only, am left…” But God shares the other side of the story. He gives Elijah his perspective. He interrupts Elijah’s pity party and gives him an assignment. Oh, and by the way, God has kept a remnant of 7,000 for himself.

In my perplexing circumstances, I need to remember the limits of my knowledge. I never know the whole story. My perspective is only one grain of sand compared to the vast desert of time and eternity. And I certainly don’t have all the wisdom that God possesses. Why am I so quickly confused and left downcast? Maybe I’m just like dejected Elijah, or the person who only reads Judges without going on to Ruth. I am only reading one side of the story. I have the perspective of an ant carrying that one grain of sand when all the while my good and gracious God sees the whole desert and reigns over each and every grain. Right now he is working, calmly and triumphantly working all things according to the counsel of his will.

Dust, Grass and Mist

In today’s culture, every woman is supposed to be a 21st century Rosie the Riveter proclaiming, “We can do it!” We are constantly told that we’re enough, that we’re strong, that we’re even unstoppable. The other day I read a post from someone whose mother just passed away. She focused a lot on being strong and finally said, “My strength is my strength.” Can someone tell me what that even means? Is it ok for women to shed tears in public or is that turning your back on the ‘sisterhood’?

Meanwhile, our Bibles sit on our shelves, pregnant with culturally dissonant truth. If only we would read it. If only we would take it to heart. Didn’t Paul tell us in Romans 12 to be transformed by the renewal of our minds? Why the mind? Because we’re constantly being lied to. And didn’t Jeremiah tell us that our hearts are “hopelessly dark and deceitful” (MSG)? Following such a fickle organ will certainly lead us astray.

We would do well to pick up those Bibles and remind ourselves of the nature of man.

We are dust. “Then the Lord God formed the man out of the dust from the ground…” Genesis 2:7 Contrary to popular belief, we are not self-generating beings. We have a source, and that is God. No matter how hard we work out, no matter how many anti-aging products we use, we can’t stop the inevitable. Our joints will deteriorate, our skin will sag and wrinkle and we will return to the dust from which we came.

We are grass. “A voice was saying, ‘Cry out!’ Another said, ‘What should I cry out?’ ‘All humanity is grass, and all its goodness is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on them; indeed the people are grass.'” Isaiah 40:6-7 Take to heart what the prophet is saying here. How long does grass last? We kill ourselves on earth trying to increase our name recognition all the while forgetting that we will be forgotten a short time after we die. Do you remember your great-grandparents? Do you even know their names? All but the most ardent genealogists do. And have you heard of transhumanism? It says we can use technology to combat aging and “eliminate various existential risks to the human species.” Really?

We are mist. “What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” James 4:14 The other day I went running near my neighborhood. There was an unusual haze or mist in the air. But 30 minutes later? It was completely gone. We like to make plans and set goals for months and years from now. I plan to run a marathon in November. But why do we think we’ll be here even 30 minutes from now? We may prepare ourselves and work hard for those goals and dreams, but do we prepare ourselves to stand before the Ever Living One? “…it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment…” Hebrews 9:27

We are dust, grass and mist. We need to constantly remind ourselves of these truths in order to drown out the messages of the culture. But if we stopped there we’d certainly sink into a pit of despair. So let’s also focus on the rest of the story for those who are in Christ.

We are dust and one day these earthly bodies will decay back to the dust. But on the last day, we will be raised and receive a glorified body, one that is like the Lord Jesus. “I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.” 1 Corinthians 15:50-53

We are grass and hardly anyone will remember us years after we’re gone. But if we are in Christ, God will never forget us. “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.” Isaiah 49:15-16

Yes, we are a mist and all our hopes, dreams and goals for this life are tenuous at best. But if we know Him, we can lay up treasures for ourselves in heaven and one day we will receive a guaranteed inheritance that is imperishable and unfading. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Matthew 6:19-20 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you…” 1 Peter 1:3-4

This past week a good friend of mine received a distressing medical diagnosis which only added to other conditions that have caused her years of chronic pain. If she listened to the culture, she would hear voices telling her to focus on her strength and not give in. But as a Christian, she is able to make a different choice. She can face her weakness and suffering with raw honesty and see in it an opportunity. That opportunity is given to her by Christ who also embraced weakness for us and made it a gateway to greater strength. “Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

The world says deny your weakness and proclaim your strength. Christ says to embrace your weakness and find all your strength in him. Dust, grass and mist. This world was never our home but it is full of reminders that we were made for so much more.

The Trail

Tomorrow I’m going to run a race. A trail race. But I’m not going to be racing. And I may not be doing a lot of running. I’m finding that grief saps one’s physical strength in a way that’s different from enduring the gauntlet of 26.2. At this race, I expect I’ll be doing a combination of walking, running, and healing, as I allow God’s creation to soothe my weary soul. I may need to tuck some tissues into my hydration vest.

Running has always been therapeutic for me, but even more lately, as I’ve tried to swap some of my road miles for the trail. As I get older and inevitably slower, I think I’ll do even more exercise on the trails. I’ve even contemplated thru-hiking, to which my YouTube history can certainly attest.

The trail slows my feet and my mind. It fills my senses and lifts my head to my Creator. The harmony of nature – the bird song, the smell of spring turning into summer, the pleasing views, testify of God’s goodness and grandeur.

And this is what I need right now. This is the balm to my soul. Not the trail. But the One to whom the trail and all of creation testifies. The only One who can satisfy the longing soul. (Psalm 107:9) The One who is near to the broken hearted. (Psalm 34:18)

Type A Anxiety

No matter what kind of personality test you take, there’s always a Type A. And those who aren’t type A can sometimes look longingly over the fence and wish they had the same kind of inborn motivation, a natural desire to get things done. If this jealousy didn’t exist, self-help and productivity books wouldn’t sell as well as they do and people like Stephen Covey would be out of a job.

But I think there can be a dark side to every personality type and I’m realizing the wisdom in examining my own type A weaknesses. Possessing a natural motivation to get things done isn’t inherently righteous. If I’m not careful it can become a breeding ground for pride but also for anxiety. Let me explain that one.

I used to salivate over productivity books. They really appealed to me. They still do. The itch to do more things in less time received a satisfying scratch whenever I saw book titles with words like ‘get things done’, ‘efficient’, ‘ to-do’, and ‘stop procrastinating’. It didn’t really matter who wrote it or how the information was presented. It could be a book, a YouTube video or a magazine article. If it had the magic words, I would be drawn like the proverbial moth to a flame.

Why do they appeal to me? I think it’s because they offer a promise. A promise of peace and control. A promise of a kind of machine like smoothness and efficiency to life. If only I implemented this or that system, my life could run like a fine tuned Swiss timepiece. Now there’s nothing wrong with getting things done. Work is good and Scripture tells us we should work as unto the Lord and redeem the time. But working as unto myself is not good. What’s the difference? I can feel the difference in my spirit. It’s like everything is dependent on me. I feel agitated and rushed as if there’s some looming deadline. I feel controlled by time and set up unrealistic expectations as to how much I should be able to get done in one day. Then I end my day by placing myself under the microscope, hoping for a passing grade.

But this is all idolatry. I’m allowing the clock and my flesh to be my master, not the Lord. I’m using my checklist to validate my existence. I’m certainly not abounding in thanksgiving as God desires me to be. In using any productivity system, I am tempted to believe I have more control than I really do and look to the system and my ability to perform the system to give me peace and fulfillment.

Like I said above – there is nothing wrong with wanting to be more organized with your time and desiring to be more productive. But for this Type A woman, this upholder kind of gal, all those systems tempt me in the wrong direction.

What do you think?

Contending for the Faith

Over ten years ago I decided to try to memorize a whole book of the Bible. I chose Jude. Yes, I know, it’s only 25 verses. There are chapters of the Bible that are much longer than that. But hey, it was a book!

Since that time I have memorized other things and have had to let some of my memory work go. One of those was Jude. But I’ve been wondering lately if I should’ve let it go because it seems especially applicable these days.

I’ve been thinking about the opening verses of the book which explain Jude’s purpose in writing:

“Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” Jude 3

Jude originally wanted to write a very different letter, with likely a very different tone. But something serious had come up and he found it necessary to write them about it. Notice these words: necessary, appealing, contend. These are all strong words. The NIV says he felt compelled and wanted to urge them. The NLT says he must write…urging them to defend.

What caused him to change his purpose in writing? What would have influenced him to use such strong language with those he calls “beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ”? The rest of the letter goes on to supply the reason – false teachers have crept in unnoticed. They are immoral and pervert the grace of God for their own gain. He calls them “hidden reefs at your love feasts”. These were people who on the outside looked like Christians – they participated in the Lord’s Supper; but actually they were hidden reefs – their dangerous and ungodly teachings lurked beneath the surface.

We should always encourage one another and build up one another, reminding each other of the Lord’s great love and the salvation we share in Jesus Christ. But we should also heed Peter’s call to be sober-minded and realize that there have always been and continue to be threats to the body of Christ.

But notice where those threats are coming from. Jude says they are coming from inside the body, not outside. That’s not to say the church isn’t threatened from the outside. There’s an abundance of historical evidence, past and present to prove that. But Jude is urging his beloved to watch out for the threats from within. He tells them to contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints. That presupposes that there is a standard of faith for which to contend. And who has set that standard? It is God who has established the standards of our faith in his Word.

So Jude finishes with a call for his beloved to persevere:

“But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.” Jude 20-21

What does it mean to build yourself up in your most holy faith? Using Colossians 1:9-11 and 2:6-7 as a guide, I think it means this: grow in the knowledge of God through the gospel, being rooted in Christ and built up in him, always abounding in thanksgiving, and bearing fruit in every good work.

There is a time to contend for the faith. Stay sober-minded then so that when the time comes you may not be caught off guard. And remember that we can contend and remain steadfast because he is faithful and will keep us to the end.

“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.Jude 24-25