The heavens, the skies, the mountains, the deep—checkmate!

God’s got you covered! From the summit of Mt. Everest to the Challenger Deep at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, God’s love can find you.

At least that is what the psalms say. When the book of Psalms describes God’s love and faithfulness it uses expansive language such as: farther than the east is from the west, higher than the highest heavens, etc. and that is absolutely amazing. There is nowhere that you and I can go on our planet or in life that is beyond the scope of God’s love.

According to King David in Psalm 139, God can find you in heaven or the pits or even in the dark. He can find you on this side of the ocean or on the other side of the earth. Indeed, David cried out, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” Everywhere he turned, he ran into God. He said, “You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.”

You and I need to be reminded of this. We need to know that God never gets frightened and He never loses heart. He already went to the grave for us and came out on the other side. We need to know this when times are good so that we don’t forget about God, and we need to know it when times are bad so we don’t think He has forgotten about us.

It’s a checkmate, really. There is nowhere we can go. No move is safe. God’s love is everywhere, and even if we can’t see it today, He promises us that we eventually will. Let’s trust this. Let’s rest in this. And let’s be His agents that carry this power to others who need to hear and know it too.

Trying harder is not your best option

Try harder! Try harder! It is the mantra of both American culture and American Christianity.

Do you want to get ahead? Work harder!

Do you want to excel? Do more!

Do you want to be a better Christian? Strive more intensely!

Do you need to deal with some sin or struggle in your life? Start fighting to overcome it!

This is common fare in many Sunday morning sermons, and on the surface it sounds like wise counsel. The Apostle Paul talked about “pressing toward the mark” and “fighting the good fight,” and the author of Hebrews even said, “In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your own blood.” So apparently, there is a greater striving to be reached and a fiercer resistance to be waged. However, the striving and the resistance are not the starting points.

The reason we sin is because we love it. Sin is not an annoyance that we need to deal with, it is something that we have actually grown to love. Granted, it is possible to both love and despise our sin simultaneously, but the reality is that if we only hated it, we wouldn’t keep returning to it. So, technically speaking, we don’t primarily have “sin” issues we actually have “love” issues.

The first step in moving beyond a lesser love or addiction is to develop a greater love. We cannot merely tell ourselves, “Stop sinning! God hates it and it isn’t good for me. It will hurt me in the long run, and I need to be a better person.” All of those sentiments may be true, but none of them can cure our longing for the sin, unless we learn to long for something greater.

Here is how one of America’s early Pilgrims expressed it in The Valley of Vision: “Teach me to believe that if ever I would have any sin subdued I must not only labor to overcome it, but must invite Christ to abide in the place of it, and He must become to me more than (the sin) had been; His sweetness, power, life must be there.”[1] In other words, we overcome sin when we begin to love God more than our sin; we say no to lesser loves when we encounter something greater to say “yes” to.

Let’s process this in our hearts with God. Let’s admit that we love our vices. And then rather than beating ourselves up and pledging another round of well-intended vows, let’s ask God for a greater love. Let’s ask Him to reveal Jesus to us and introduce the Holy Spirit to us to such a degree that everything else grows dim by comparison.

[1] Arthur Bennet, Editor, The Valley of Vision (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1975), 295.

Strength to Love–Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day! As we pause this week to ponder Dr. King’s contribution to the cause of justice and equality in our nation and world, I want to suggest a resource that I think you will love. Dr. King’s book, Strength to Love, is one of the best books I have read in years.

It is a compilation of some of his most dynamic sermons, carefully edited and arranged into book form, and it is powerfully compelling. In this book, Dr. King is  intellectual, philosophical, and biblical, and his insights are eerily prophetic for our times. In the introduction, his wife, Coretta Scott King, wrote, “If there is one book Martin Luther King, Jr. has written that people consistently tell me has changed their lives, it is Strength to Love.” Those words certainly proved true for me too. This book is definitely in the top ten list of the best books I have read this past decade. I have inserted a link here so you can peruse it on Amazon.

But regardless of whether you care about reading this book or not, let’s remember our three best friends this week: faith, love, and hope. As Dr. King did in his day and context, let’s live lives of intentional faith, let’s model love, and let’s never stop speaking God’s hope to our world.

God bless you!