Category Archives: Thought

Rest is Good

European Redneck

I just read my wife’s post about how important it is for her to rest and was reminded of my severe limitations. Our exhaustion and need for rest are a sign of our weak and limited nature. We live just like that pink bunny that keeps going and going, but even it needs a battery change. God made us to depend on him for everything. We need rest. Ultimately, he is our rest. One day, we will live on and on with a full tank in his presence by the light of his face in the New Heaven and New Earth. Returning to work won’t feel foggy and groggy. All of our effort will be spent and full all at once. The strain and pain will be gone. The blood, sweat, and tears will be a distant memory, if at all. Until then, until Jesus returns, he’s wonderfully arranged for our rest and renewal by the power of his Spirit and his Word, and all of this, within his glorious creation. The weight of it lies in our trust in our God, the one who never, ever tires.

How will you find rest and time to recharge this summer so that you can live in full swing for God’s glory?

Rest is good. God rested. He wants you to rest. Trust him with your work.

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Old Man

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I like Remember Me As A Time Of Day by Explosions In The Sky because it starts in earnest, progresses with normal vigor, and just when you think the tank is empty, it takes it to the next level. It says, “I’m not finished, yet.” It’s the old man, who lived his life without much flare. He fulfilled his roles, yes, imperfectly, but faithfully. You think he’s done, washed up, maybe even spent. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, pulling something from his sleeve, he’s got one more trick. Or maybe he has a complete series of tricks. The fireworks show has lasted long enough. We’re good until next year. No. It’s the finale we want. Bring the thunder. Make it pop. Cause our blood to rush and run the courses of our veins. Goose bumps. Make our souls sing the wonder of it all.

Our creative capacity and resilience in the face of hardship and failure is truly astounding. Even over a lifetime, which is hard to see by a quick glance. We can do more than we possibly imagine because God did the unimaginable. He became a man. We, fashioned in the image of God, are capable of doing the impossible because Jesus, the exact imprint of God’s nature, did the most impossible thing of all. He saved us. And isn’t this what we’re all about, too? The business of saving is written deep down in the recesses of our conscience. We value something. We’re valuable. We are valued. What will I save today? Who?

He made us to be, do, and go for his glory, which is no small thing. It’s natural to hold back and coast in to the finish line because it’s your due for whatever mistakes you made or imperfections you have. But God made us to give it all we’ve got in his power. Burn the ships. Quivering muscles. Second wind. Fight to the finish. Achy. Tired. Cautious. On your way out. But you’re wonderfully human. Many have gone before and made the earth stand still. You belong in their company. God will call time. Until then, old man, you got this. Something must be done. Someone must need your help. Jesus saved you, so go save and give more than you have. You’re not done. Make it rain and drop the mike.


Leaving For A Better Country

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Born in the USA

I’ve already left my birth country, the one which identifies my nationality, though this only recently. But, tomorrow, I will board a plane to a new country of residence, and this so happens to be my country’s most patriotic national holiday. It’s a telling reminder to me how attached we can become to pride of place and to our own sense of identity.

 

A Heavenly Country

Tomorrow, go ahead and celebrate humanity’s freedoms we enjoy, but let the small world patriotism point you to a much more glorious world of freedom from the tyranny of Satan, Sin, and Death. Let it stir and shake you up a bit for all who are chained by the power of this world. This new country is literally heavenly; it’s beyond this world, new and full of life. It’s renewed by the gospel and empowered by the Spirit of God.

 

Party Like It’s E-ter-ni-ty

You may think tomorrow’s fanfare gets out of hand at times, but you’ve barely cracked the surface on this party in the New Heaven and the New Earth. It will be uncontainable, and yet, Jesus has made a way for you to show up and enjoy it as he does. You’re allowed on the dance floor. You get to light as many black cats as you want, spit watermelon seeds 100 feet into the air, and eat homemade ice cream without getting a brain freeze. But, even these earthy delights pale to the white hot love and joy we will experience before the throne of God for all eternity.

 

Happy 4th of July!

Check out Matthew 6:19-33 & Philippians 3:20-21


This Life

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I want so much to be understood, to be counted, to be considered. I want to be remembered. I want to have influence, impact, and to leave a lasting impression. Why? Because of time. I am going to die. My name and my memory are all that will continue posthumously. What about me matters so much that others should remember so that it will enhance their lives beyond the bounds of time? Nothing. Only one thing may overpower the behemoth hands of time: the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Son of God became a man; he lived the life I was meant to live and died the death I was bent to die. He rose from the death of forgetfulness and complete obscurity to the most powerful and infamous place in all of existence. He stands in honor and victory at God’s right hand. His life, death, and resurrection were for the glory of God and for our good. He gave us chronological significance in his very real and very true story of making all things new. Not only will he always be remembered for who he was and what he did, he will be remembered for what he is doing and will do because of who he always will be. So the gospel changes my goal and mission in this life doesn’t it? I’m reminded of what Count Zinzendorf once said of his mission in life: “Preach the gospel, die, and be forgotten.” If only my life counts for any lasting value from now to the day I die, it is this same endeavor in which I journey, for this is to truly and fully belong to Christ (Gal. 6:14). My death promises nothing in return; his death promises and secures life and relationship with the God of the universe for those who believe in Jesus.

This Life

On Sunday, preach the gospel, die, and be forgotten.
On Monday, preach the gospel, die, and be forgotten.
On Tuesday, preach the gospel, die, and be forgotten.
On Wednesday, preach the gospel, die, and be forgotten.
On Thursday, preach the gospel, die, and be forgotten.
On Friday, preach the gospel, die, and be forgotten.
On Saturday, preach the gospel, die, and be forgotten.
For as long as one has breath, preach the gospel, die, and be forgotten.
Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead.


One Good Son

Elyse Fitzpatrick and her daughter, Jessica Thompson, write in their book, Give Them Grace:

“Raising good kids is utterly impossible unless they are drawn by the Holy Spirit to put their faith in the goodness of another. You cannot raise good kids, because you are not a good parent. There is only one good Parent, and he had one good Son. Together, this Father and Son accomplished everything that needed to be done to rescue us and our children from certain destruction. When we put our faith in him, he bestows the benediction upon us: “These are My beloved children, with whom I am well pleased” (see Matt. 3:17).

Give this grace to your children: tell them who they really are, tell them what they need to do, and then tell them to taste and see that the Lord is good. Give this grace to yourself, too.” (p. 50)

And later, they summarize this formula as a helpful way to process what they’re saying: “Good parenting in, good children out.” (p. 52)

The point is… no one is good, not one, and we all need to be rescued from our sinful-selves in a sin-filled world and we need protection from sin-soaked Satan. Jesus Christ is the only one, the one good Son, who rescues us, redeems us, stands for us, and reigns over all. He is our Lord and Savior. Parenting steeped in this gospel is good parenting and tastes like the grace and love of Jesus. Put that in their sippy cup.


Always Good

Recently, I had the opportunity to preach at First Baptist Church in Weymouth, MA. It was an honor for me as we have enjoyed visiting them on several occasions. When you walk into the worship gathering at FBC Weymouth, it’s obvious that they have the joy of the Lord, which so happens to be their strength. It is clear to me that they know God’s goodness to them. I pray that they’re love for Jesus and for one another will grow and spill out all over the South Shore. Through and in Christ, their church is full of awesomeness.

If you like, you may listen to my sermon here: “Always Good”

If you don’t have the time, based on James 1:16-18, I say that God is always good to his children. He’s utterly good, unchanging, and ultimately irresistible to His children. He’s always good. Look at the person and work of Jesus Christ for us.


Cool, Fancy, Tasty Drink

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When I take one of my children out to spend some time together, we usually find our way to a local watering hole. For them, it’s a big treat to pick out and sip on a beverage all to themselves. Almost every time, our little adventure is concluded with a short sigh and “Daddy, are you ready to go so I can show so and so my cool/ fancy/ tasty drink?” I sit for a moment and think, “Yes, but what’s the hurry? Did this kid forget who got the drink for them? I mean there’s more where that came from.” Then, I say, “Sure. Let’s go.” We get home. “Hey everybody! Look, look! Daddy got me this cool/ fancy/ tasty drink. Wanna try it?! It’s so good.”

So it is and ought to be with us, our Heavenly Father, and those around us. He offers us the gift of his Kingdom, his Son, and his grace. What do we do with it?


Of the Setting of Goals, There is No End, Actually

When I don’t have a plan to eat healthy foods, I don’t eat healthy foods. You know, the whole fail/plan-plan/fail thing. Nobody wants to do that. But, when I do set specific goals to eat healthy foods, the meticulous thoughts about food and quality of choice in my food tends to increase immensely. So I was thinking, as long as my motivations are founded in ultimate Goodness, that is, for the glory of God, then any goals that I set will necessarily increase the overall value of whatever subject therein. Okay, so if my goal is to play more basketball, then being the dude created in the image of God that I am, I will necessarily think and work hard at my enjoyment, skill and competition in it. I won’t just simply play more basketball. Once I walk onto the court, I’ve already unknowingly set more fine-tuned goals that continue to increase its quality – my overall experience. For instance, I know I didn’t just walk on with everyday shoes. No, I’m wearing Zoom Kobe VIs, and I’m wearing gym clothes, not jeans. I’m measuring up my opponent. I’m taking post, the right position for me with my gorilla-boxing out and rebound instincts. Oh, I’m a brick wall, and you’ll end up on the wrong side when the ball comes down. Moving on. You see, with whatever we care about, we can’t not set goals. And once we set one, several more perfecting, secondary goals follow shortly after.

So what am I saying?

We’re goal setters. We set goals. We’re becomers. We become. But it doesn’t just stop there. We become like there’s no tomorrow. We become like we’ve never became before. If you’re a foodie, to everyone’s annoyance, think of the foodie you’ll become. Your selection process and enjoyment thereof will eventually be out of this world (think how many more times you’ll hyperbolize about food before you die). And so on. But stop and think for a sec.

If you are in Christ, he will perfect you, eventually, to become like him, and your goals will go through a dramatic shift. We will stand face to face with our Chief Good, God himself. He will look on us, clothed in the righteousness of Christ, and we will know justice and peace in loving embrace with our Father God. There’ll be no more becoming. What a relief! No more pressure for the indie band on their upcoming sophomore release. “It’s all good” will be “for real.” With no distracting sin, pain, or sadness, we’ll actually be free to image God as he created us to do so. Our goal setting will be hijack proof with no deviation. And, the pinnacle of all our goals will be utter amazement and unimaginable delight in God as we go on through all eternity living it up in the New Earth and the New Heaven.

So for now, in view of eternity, become the becomer you were born to be until Christ forms you to become like he.

By the way, once we reach the other side, being the urbanite that I wish, you can find me in the eternal city, The New Jerusalem, ’cause that’s where it’s at… all the action.


Asking Our Gracious God to be Gracious?

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Anticipating a difficult conversation the other day, I asked God to be gracious to me. Allow me to explain how he answered my prayer. As soon as the words of my prayer were on my fiery tongue, it struck me, or rather, the Spirit of God brought me down to earth from up high on my little personalized hill of perfection. I remembered God is always gracious to me. Never has he not been gracious to me nor anyone else. He is unchanging in his character. He does not give and take away his grace. He’s not like that. He may give and take away things which are dearly precious to me, but he knows what’s best for me, so once again, it’s his grace. By his grace, I was born, grew up, and started a family. And it’s by his grace that I grow old, weary, and worn. His grace is eternal and constant, or I would have imploded long before now. Asking God to be gracious is like asking me to love my wife or my son or my daughter. I’m wasting precious pleas before the almighty God who invented the very idea of grace and love. Of course he’ll be gracious to me. My prayer ought to be a little more filled with adoration for and remembering of the grace of God. Now, on to what really happened.

So, how did he answer my prayer?

Holy Spirit, God, prompted me to ask him a different question altogether: to make me more gracious in my thoughts and words toward this other person in our conversation. I asked God to make me more gracious. He brought me to repentance. He changed me. My unchangeable God transformed me to become more like his own perfect Son, Jesus Christ. You see, it’s not a matter of will he be gracious to us but how he will be gracious to us and whether we will be in step with the Spirit enough to recognize it. His whole purpose is to get all the glory and be wholly loving to his children in a way that only he can orchestrate all at once. We are changed that we might more fully reflect the glory of our unchanging God. By his grace, I pray we will know it when we see it for he has been, is, and always will be gracious.


More on Valor

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In his speech, entitled “Citizenship in a Republic”, delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France, on April 23, 1910, Theodore Roosevelt charges:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. Shame on the man of cultivated taste who permits refinement to develop into fastidiousness that unfits him for doing the rough work of a workaday world. Among the free peoples who govern themselves there is but a small field of usefulness open for the men of cloistered life who shrink from contact with their fellows. Still less room is there for those who deride of slight what is done by those who actually bear the brunt of the day; nor yet for those others who always profess that they would like to take action, if only the conditions of life were not exactly what they actually are. The man who does nothing cuts the same sordid figure in the pages of history, whether he be a cynic, or fop, or voluptuary. There is little use for the being whose tepid soul knows nothing of great and generous emotion, of the high pride, the stern belief, the lofty enthusiasm, of the men who quell the storm and ride the thunder. Well for these men if they succeed; well also, though not so well, if they fail, given only that they have nobly ventured, and have put forth all their heart and strength. It is war-worn Hotspur, spent with hard fighting, he of the many errors and valiant end, over whose memory we love to linger, not over the memory of the young lord who “but for the vile guns would have been a valiant soldier.”

What is your worthy cause?
For what are you passionate?

Be in the arena! Stand, and make your presence known. If only you realize you’ve been given the ability to stand and find your voice after much pain and struggle, then you will make your mark and find your groove. In high school baseball, whenever I would begin to work my way out of a slump, coach would call out, “Good gosh, looks like Josh Baylor showed up today.” Lots of practice, hard work, mental control, and an eye for opportunity are nothing if you don’t show up. Reminds me of Jesus’ miracle moments. Rise, pick up your mat and walk. Go wash in the pool. Cast your nets on the other side. Go, your son will live. God gives to us our ability to act and to believe. We simply show up and prove his generosity and power and goodness. So, get up, step forward, and go in the power only he can provide. Jesus actually stood in the arena for us so that we might show up and display the glory of God, his grand love and unimaginable grace for undeserving people such as us. We may endure because he endured for us. We are valiant because Jesus is valiant. Sealed, won and done.

Show up!