A Variety of Trials

A Variety of Trials

Trials come in a variety of ways, at various times, and with different pressure points. Some are relatively insignificant (a flat tire), while others are more impactful (a job layoff). I learn a lot about myself during trials, particularly from what comes from my heart. Often I become impatient and angry. I want the trial to end quickly and worry about the outcome. I usually ask the important question about trials too late, "what is the Lord trying to teach me?" The book of James reminds believers why trials exist, "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2-4)." Trials are a tool in the Lord's hand to grow the faith of believers. Yet, knowledge of that truth does not mean that our experience of trials will be easy. Last Friday, I began...
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Hope from Heidelberg

Hope from Heidelberg

I have recently been reading through some of the historic confessions and catechisms. As I have been reading, one statement from the Heidelberg Catechism (1563) caught my attention and has been very encouraging. The first question in the catechism is: Q. What is your only comfort in life and in death?A. That I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven; in fact, all things must work together for my salvation.Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.The Heidleberg Catechism (1563) The question and answer...
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A Time to Lament

Here we go again? Another American mass murder. First, it was ten African Americans murdered in Buffalo, New York. Yesterday, it was nineteen children and two adults in Uvalde, Texas. How do we make sense of these atrocious acts in our country? I would suggest that we pause. This is not a time for trivial or simplistic answers, nor is it a time for egotistical politicians to push their agendas. Now is a time to lament before the Lord and mourn with those who mourn. Some families have had their lives changed forever, and answers that will never bring their loved ones back. The Psalm writers would often lament before the Lord with questions of "how" and "why" in response to the most challenging circumstances in life (see Psalm 10, 13, 22). Lament was a way for the psalmist to express their deep mourning and trust in God. Lament allows one to mourn the realities of this fallen world, leading back to...
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Money, Exercise, and Motivations of the Heart

How do you combine money, exercise, and the motivations of the heart? Answer: Paceline Paceline is a new fitness app that gives rewards for exercising. This app is not the first to combine exercise with rewards, but it has additional benefits. The Paceline app is the first fitness app that I have seen which combines credit card rewards and the ability to receive a free Apple Watch (Series 7). How it works First, you download the Paceline app, which connects to Apple Health, Fitbit, or Garmin. Next, you will need a fitness tracker that includes heart rate tracking. The goal is to have 150 minutes of elevated heart rate (eHr) per week (maximum 50 minutes a day). For example, a brisk walk will track an elevated heart rate. You will receive a reward each week that you reach the exercise goal. These rewards include $1 Amazon gift cards and other offers for discounts on products and services. The real benefit to the program comes with...
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Reflecting on Vegas

Reflecting on Vegas

Last month I attended an accounting conference in Las Vegas. Hundreds of Accountants with their calculators gathered together at the Venetian hotel. All sarcasm aside, this trip made me think a lot about why Vegas attracts so many people. There is an aspect of Las Vegas that fascinates me. There is an appeal to our desires, drawing in people seeking different things. One might argue that the main draw of Vegas is gambling, and close behind that is entertainment. However, I think there is something more profound than a desire to become rich or be entertained. There is a way in which Vegas appeals to the different natural desires that we were created with, which so quickly become disoriented. God gave us desires, and there are many things in life to enjoy, yet we want the good things too much, sometimes we want wrong things, and we even at times do not want the right thing. I think there is one...
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Book Review: Deeper: Real Change for Real Sinners by Dane Ortlund

Book Review: Deeper: Real Change for Real Sinners by Dane Ortlund

Last year Dane Ortlund released a book “Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Suffers.” This was one of my favorite books from last year. Recently, he released a new book called Deeper: Real Change for Real Sinners. In this book, he addressed a common question, “how do Christians grow?” There are nine chapters that explored growing in Christ, or as he called it, “real change for real sinners.” He argued a simple point throughout the book; we grow as we deepen our relationship with Christ. He said that growth in Christ is “relational, not a formulaic experience.” The relational aspect that he focused on is the heart of Christ for sinners and sufferers, which leads believers to daily fight the ongoing presence of sin by the power of the Spirit. Ortlund simplified theological concepts and is skilled at using word pictures. For example, “justification is outside-in, and we lose it if we make it inside-out” and “sanctification is...
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The Mountains are Calling and I Must Go – Part 2

The Mountains are Calling and I Must Go – Part 2

"The Mountains are Calling and I Must Go" John Muir  My last post had a summary of my past three years of hiking with my brother. I am going to share to a couple of thoughts that came to mind during this last trip. One of the trails that we were on is called the New Army pass. The trail is 15 miles long and passes by five different lakes. The trail begins in the forest, then passes by lakes, and eventually ends at the top of a mountain pass. Right before you ascend the mountain peak you walk through a valley with mountains on both sides. From a distance, you cannot tell if there is a path through the mountains, or if it continues over the mountain. As we got closer, I told my brother, I think we are going over the mountain. A small pathway appeared which we climbed to the top, which stands at 12,400 ft. The ascension up...
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The Sound of Solitude

Mount Baldy (elevation 10,064 ft) “All our miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone [with God].” Blaise Pascal It is hard to escape the noise of everyday life. In Los Angeles, you cannot escape the morning traffic or the evening police car chase. There are the routine sounds we hear: working in a busy office, talking with coworkers and friends, listening to music or a favorite podcast, sitting in a coffee shop, eating dinner with friends, or watching the latest series on Netflix. There are the constant sounds we hear: text messages, emails, tweets, calendar reminders, to-do list alerts, breaking news, and spam phone calls. There are also the sounds of our busy hearts: our anxious thoughts, and our endless desires. All these sounds often turn into noise that is hard to escape. I often long to be in solitude to escape the noise of normal everyday life, so that I can think and refocus. I...
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Why do I complain so much?

A week ago, my family visited a local farm to pick strawberries. As we left, I bought each of my kids a flavored popsicle for the drive home. They enjoyed it for a few minutes until I heard from the back of the car that my son wanted a napkin because he did not like it. My ten-year-old daughter told my eight-year-old son, "You never like anything, it's too hot, or it's too cold, it doesn't taste good, you are never satisfied." At that moment I did not know whether I should commend her for her skillful assessment of the human heart or to comfort my son who had just received a tongue lashing as he had his heart exposed. Over this last year it seems that complaining has become so normal that we do not realize we are doing it all the time.  Can you believe the traffic? I cannot believe I have to wear a mask outside. These politicians...
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Do you consider yourself an influencer?

One of the most well-known influencers is Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla. He is widely known for creating a successful electric car company and then becoming one of the world’s richest people in the world. He is not only known because of Tesla, but also for his viral tweets. In December 2020 he tweeted “One word: Doge.” Have you ever heard of Dogecoin? Dogecoin was a cryptocurrency created in 2013 as a joke. The cryptocurrency was trading for less than a penny last year. Dogecoin jumped after his tweet and at one point was up over 700%. The joke turned into a market cap today of over $6 billion dollars! His influence fascinates me, and it made me think about how we influence each other. Most of us do not have that type of influence on social media, but we all influence people through normal everyday conversations. This began all the way back in the Garden of Adam and Eve. In...
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