Tech Workshop - Blog image-page-001.jpg

Technology is incredible. With my phone I can call my wife hands-free, look up information using my voice, and connect with friends I love but simply don't have time to see in person.

Yet anyone who uses a smartphone also finds there are some downsides. Games can pull focus and time, tasks can stress us, and social media can distract or even depress us.1

As parents we may fear the impact tech may have on our children and as believers we look to Christ for some example; but it turns out the Bible is pretty mum about our online use. However, Jesus is very clear about matters of the heart.

The Roads God Uses to Win Hearts

During Jesus’ earthly ministry his focus was always to seek and save the lost.Jesus traveled from town to town along roads built by the Romans. These roads were specifically designed to allow for free commerce and quick transport of troops throughout the empire. The Romans were as far from a righteous and God-fearing culture as you could have. If we look at the way these roads were used and who built them3 these roads should have been avoided at all cost. The Romans were a warring nation who took advantage of those weaker than themselves, established rule through fear and harsh consequences, and whose leaders should still make the top of the worst people in history list.4

So when Jesus, the Son of God, traveled he could have avoided those roads at all cost on principle. He could have hiked through the hills, walked on water, or just teleported. Instead, Jesus took the same roads everyone else did.

These roads came from a wicked source and were often used for wicked purposes, but they seem to fall into what Paul would later declare as the “weaker brother” measure: If it isn’t specifically sinful, your conscience allows it, and it doesn’t cause anyone else to sin, then you’re okay. 5

By using the Roman roads Jesus chose to use an effective method of travel to spread the good news of the gospel.

The Road of Technology

Technology is a modern-day example of such a road: People from all over the world use it for relationships, information and entertainment.

And we know our children are using this road. We know that, for several aspects of it, there is nothing morally wrong with the technology itself. The question is how do we raise our young people to reach their full potential in Christ, protect them from unsafe content and help them to utilize the resources available to them, all to the glory of God?

Here’s the picture: 9 in 10 young people go online daily4 and the average teenager spends 9 hours a day using media for enjoyment.5 Almost 3/4 of all young people have their own smart phone6 and they don’t all do the same thing: Boys tend to game and girls tend to use social media.7 Our young people are already using technology out there on those “Roman roads”. Our opportunity as parents is to show them how to travel safely, to discern what roads to take, and listen to God’s guidance as they continue on their journey.

3 Ways Parents Can Support Healthy Tech Use in Their Kids

1. Create clear technology expectations for the whole family:

  • Ask the question: Does our tech use pass the Philippians test? Is it true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy? 8
  • Determine which games, websites and social media platforms are appropriate and acceptable.
  • Establish beneficial times for tech: When is it ok to use? When does it need to be put away? Consider these as potential tech-free times: Meals, family, study, quiet, bed.

2. Use technology to support healthy tech choices

These apps allow for intentional lifestyle support: (NOTE - I have not been paid for any of these. I just believe in the products.)

  • Moment (free): Tracks time of use on a device and helps set simple goals and reflect on use. Moment keeps track of where time is going.
  • Freedom App (free; iTunes): Allows you to turn off wifi and internet during selected hours (9pm - 6am, for example) to improve the odds of getting a full night’s rest.
  • Unplugged ($7/ month): Blocks websites and social media from phone.

For home use with your family consider:

  • The Circle with Disney ($100; Amazon): Allows you to monitor, set time limits and bedtimes, filter content, pause the internet, get insights, and build healthy habits.
  • Net Nanny ($40): A great option for those who want to block content on computers.
  • Covenant Eyes ($15 / month): I have used Covenant Eyes for accountability since college. It doesn’t make choices for me, I can go anywhere online, yet I go knowing that people I personally invited will get a note saying where I went. The internet also doesn’t work without logging into Covenant Eyes.

3. Set realistic, gospel-focused consequences

Boundaries are important (Step 1), and technology can help set those boundaries (Step 2), but what do we do when the line is crossed?

  • Remember our job as parents is to guide and direct our children in healthy choices. 9
  • The goal for consequences is to remind a heart (and a brain) what a healthy choice looks like. Pain helps us avoid those choices in the future. Jesus refers to this spiritual process as pruning. 10
  • If something negatively impacts our hearts, we need to remove and replace it. 11

All consequences are going to focus on the main goal: Raising young people who are equipped to achieve their full potential in Christ. There are numerous ways to set this up, but most boundary crossing will come down to remove and replace.

4. Healthy Tech is a Journey. Take it together.

As parents we have seen the dangers and downsides of technology as well as the benefits. Using tech healthfully is a journey and we need to invite our children along. Rather than avoid technology out of fear, we need to recognize that our God is bigger than our sin, than death itself, and certainly the internet.

We need to:

  • Lovingly set expectations
  • Use tech to form healthy boundaries
  • Consistently walk the journey of technology with our children
  • Model what healthy choices and habits look like

On the road of life God provides opportunities for us to do exactly what parents are called to do: Remind our children of what God has called us to in all our dealings, including our travels with technology.12  We must model healthy tech habits, humility, and a desire to see God accomplish his will in all areas of our lives.



About the Author:

Nathan Sutherland is a teacher, speaker and trainer who works with families and students to help every young person reach their full potential. He founded Flint and Iron as a 501(c)(3) non-profit as a resource to spark positive purpose in youth.


  1. Christian Science Monitor, Marjorie Kehe, Is social media making the young less happy?, January 26, 2017

  2. Luke 19:10 (NIV) - “For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 20 Mar, 2018. <>.

  3. Public Products Services (PBS), The Roman Empire: The First Century, Slaves & Freemen,

  4. ListVerse, Flamehorse, May 2010, Top 10 Worst Roman Emperors,

  5. 1 Corinthians 8:4,7-9,12: “Therefore, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that an idols has no real existence, and that “there is no God but one.”...However, not all possess this knowledge. But some, through former association with idols, eat food as really offered to an idol, and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak...Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat mean, lest I make my brother stumble.” (ESV, Crossway, 2011)

  6. Pew Research, Amanda Lenhart, 2015, Teens, Social Media & Technology Overview 2015,

  7. Common Sense Media, Media Use Profile, default/files/uploads/pdfs/census_factsheet_mediauseprofiles.pdf

  8. Philippians 4:8 (ESV): “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Crossway, 2011)

  9. Proverbs 22:6 (NIV) - “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.

  10. John 15:1-2 (NIV) - “I am the true vine and my father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” Blue Letter Bible. Web. 21 Mar, 2018. <https://>.

  11. Matthew 5:29 - “If your right eye causes you to sin cut it out.” Jesus reminds us that the point is not to have freedom to do whatever we want, but freedom to obey what God tells us to do: Repent and believe. There are times when being obedient means giving up those things that draw us away from God and from who he is calling us to be.

  12. "Deuteronomy 6:7 (NIV) - Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." Blue Letter Bible. Web. 20 Mar, 2018. <>., also11:19



Andy and Sondra's Story - re:MADE for Marriage


Our God is the God of reconciliation. What we see as lost, broken, damaged, and irreparable...God uses as an opportunity to pursue our hearts and demonstrate His power to heal and restore our brokenness if we allow Him to do so. Jesus is the rescuer we so desperately need...bringing new life where there once was death! Check out Andy and Sondra's story and be encouraged in the great power and love of God! 



As leaders of Gospel Life Church, we are given the responsibility and privilege to guard the flock from harm and we take that duty very seriously. Recently a movie has opened in theaters, proclaiming to be Christian, but does it pass the test? Does it accurately represent the God of the Bible, the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the established doctrines of the Christian faith?

The Shack is a movie based on a fictional book by William P. Young. The book was released years ago, receiving much scrutiny and even more scholarly theological criticism. This work of fiction attempts to answer these questions:

“Is there a personal God? If so, does He care about me, my pain, and my struggle? And if He does exist, and if He is a personal God, then why don’t I see Him coming to my aid, rescuing me from life’s misery and mystery? It would seem that either God cares but is not powerful enough to fix it, or God is powerful enough to rescue me, but He just isn’t all that loving.”

Let us assure you that these are not new questions. Every generation since Adam has faced these same challenging questions. Let us also assure you that there are objective answers to these questions based on the Word of God, the Bible. Orthodox Christianity gives systematic answers to each of these questions, which has guided and guarded our community of faith for centuries. We are convinced that The Shack does NOT represent Orthodox Christianity. Instead, it misrepresents God and can mislead people, leaving them to experience eternal consequence.

You may hear various voices within the Christian community supporting The Shack, which is why we felt it necessary to share this blog. The Shack is intended to show people the nature and character of God and convince them of deep theological truths. We would submit that the movie does not pass the test of Orthodox Christian doctrine, which anchors our faith. The Shack misrepresents all the persons of the Trinity, replaces God’s good news with a dangerous FALSE gospel of self-salvation and, in doing so, dangerously marginalizes the person and redemptive work of Jesus Christ.

Friends, these are not minor issues that would render The Shack harmless. They need to be considered as extremely dangerous lies, that if believed, will lead people away from their only hope, ultimate help, and eternal salvation freely extended by God though the person and work of Jesus!

Please consider the following:


The "gospel", according to The Shack, is merely the willingness to forgive others. It presents a false gospel of self-realization, resulting in self-improvement and self-actualization that finally leads to self-salvation. This is a heretical misrepresentation of the Bible and the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is actually an old story in a new wrapper called, “New Age” thinking. Don’t buy this lie, even though it feels good and/or right. It is not the truth and the enemy of our soul has been telling us this one since the beginning (Gen. 3) hoping to lead people away from God’s true love experienced through a real relationship with Jesus Christ!


The Shack depicts Jesus as an unassuming, laid-back nice guy. Whereas, the Bible depicts Jesus as the King of kings, Lord of lords and to whom one day every knee shall bow down and worship. Never does the movie depict Jesus as our Savior, Redeemer, or the One who died for man’s sin, but simply a folksy, friendly kind of guy you might find shopping for Birkenstocks at REI. This gross mis-characterization of the Son of God demeans the Jesus of the Bible as God the Son, Savior, and King. If Jesus is only a nice guy and our friend, we’re still in our sin and can never have a relationship with a perfect and holy God.

But because of Jesus, who lived the life God requires and died a sinner’s death we all deserve, we can by grace and faith experience a loving relationship with a perfect God – now that’s true good news!


According to The Shack, the Bible has no actual relevance and God evidently only communicates through dreams and supernatural manifestations. This intentional disregarding of the Scriptures is very disturbing and inconceivable while proclaiming to be “Christian" story.

Orthodox Christianity has forever revered the Bible as the only true, inspired revelation of God to man. All proposed miraculous dreams and supernatural manifestations must always be scrutinized and be subordinate to the inspired Word of God. To ignore the Bible as the sole source of truth is both dangerous and alarming, leaving us to stand upon the shifting sand of our emotions and our feelings. While emotions and feeling are good, they should not be what we cling to or how we are led. Our feelings and emotions will deceive us and change as often as the seasons. Therefore, we must rely upon a more sure foundation; one that’s eternally tested, sure, and proven to be true. God’s Word is that foundation upon which we must rely – it’s solid!


While the movie is admittedly a “feel good” story, it’s dangerously light on truth, making it pleasing to the senses but harmful to the soul.

Detecting the lies camouflaged among truth is our responsibility as church leaders. While time and space do not allow us to speak to each of our concerns, the totality of these major doctrinal objections are well outside of established Christian Orthodoxy and mandate we DO NOT recommend The Shack.  We fear it is misleading, misrepresents God and sound Biblical teaching, and presents falsehoods as truth.

Let us assure you that God is, in fact, a very personal God. Because of Jesus, you can have a deeply personal relationship with Him. Yes, God knows who you are and each one of your life’s struggles, pain, and hurts. Yes, God does want to minister to you in the furnace of your life’s struggle. But we completely disagree with The Shack and the seemingly "good news" message it proclaims. Instead, we want to share with you the true gospel of Jesus, which is actually what has the power to set us free! 

Please feel free to talk with us further if you have any questions. Our goal is your edification, encouragement, and growth in sound Biblical truth!

With Deep Affection,

The Elders of Gospel Life Church


I remember coming home from work one day, heavy-hearted to the point of tears. The weight of suffering felt crushing and hopeless. Prior, I knew nothing about foster care. However, I somehow found myself in a job where it became my world. I don’t think I knew what I was getting myself into. Had I known, I probably would have been a little less excited and a lot more resistant.

I reflect on what I believed before engaging. It hurts me to even write these words. I didn’t know the stories of our birth parents. I didn’t know the shoes in which they had walked. I believed they were the enemies. I didn’t try to have a calloused heart, but I did. One by one, though, I began to hear the stories of where they had come from and where they had been. I heard their hearts and love for their children. I saw their tears as they held their children. I wept with them. I celebrated with them.

God chose to soften my heart and I am so humbled. As my co-worker once said, “Foster care taught me how we are all equal at the foot of the cross.” There is nothing about my sin that is more glamourous. I am in desperate need of Jesus’ forgiveness and grace. There was nothing I did to earn His favor. The same blood that purchased me also saves the addict, the promiscuous, the abused, and the abuser. 

As people changed by God’s grace, we are invited to participate in the redemptive work that God is doing all around us. The love and grace of Jesus is what compels the Christian to love and extend grace; thus, we have the opportunity to be ministers of the gospel so that others may know and receive the love of Jesus. We carry the message of reconciliation!

"All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation." -1 Cor. 5:18-19

If you are interested in learning more about foster care in our community, Tacoma Youth For Christ (YFC) is hosting an event called UNITE on November 14th. To find out more info, visit the YFC UNITE event webpage.

Written by: Emily Davidson, YFC Visitation Coordination and Member of Gospel Life Church


The idea of not meeting for church on a particular Sunday was not something I thought was unheard of or crazy. Closing the doors of church on a Sunday happened at a previous church we attended.  However, when I first heard that Gospel Life was not going to be gathering on Sunday September 13th, I had the same question that many of you might have…WHY?   Why can't we engage with culture on another day of the week?  Why does it have to be on a Sunday?  If it's really not about the Seahawks opening game, then let's be about the community on other game days.   After multiple conversations and lots of internal processing , I was able to see where my perceptions of Sunday may be a little more me focused rather than Jesus focused. 

Some of you may share the same misbelief that being on mission primarily means reaching unbelievers in our workplaces Monday through Friday and maybe occasional Saturdays.  I thought Sundays were for believers to get refreshed, renewed, and take a break from missional living.  Sound crazy?  Well, at times, this is the reality of what I believe and how I live. I know I am "supposed" to be on mission Monday-Friday (and some Saturdays) but, come on...Sundays are my day off to rest from having to live on mission and share my life with nonbelievers. Now, I am learning that mission is a lifestyle.  The grace of God doesn't motivate us to make disciples on only certain days of the week or for special events. When we "go" make disciples of Jesus, it is a consistent way of life.

One of my biggest concerns with closing the doors next Sunday was the potential visitor who would come to GLC to hear the message of the gospel. I was worried that if we weren't there, they wouldn't come back and would be forever lost. Yes, I admit that sometimes I think we are a really big deal and that God needs us. However, I realized that not having a service on Sunday does not hinder God or mess up His plan; especially since He already knew before the world began that Gospel Life Church wouldn't be meeting next weekend!  Who am I to think that God needs us and that our availability on Sunday is what saves people?

Another reason I struggled with the idea of the Sunday "scattering" is related to my dislike of the idolatry of sports in our culture.  My life used to revolve around watching sports and playing sports…yet the idolatry surrounding the worship of athletes has always bothered me.  Therefore, I am hesitant to join the "crowd" and engage in a cultural worship of the Seahawks. However, I now see an opportunity to look outside of myself, join those around me, and begin to build relationships with unbelievers who love the Seahawks. In loving them where they are at, I would hope to earn the right to share with them the truth about Jesus...that He is the only one worthy of our worship and that real joy, acceptance, and satisfaction can only be found in Him. 

While listening to a friend share his perspective last week in our Gospel Community, I began to wonder: Am I thinking backwards?  He shared that when we look outside of America, we see that missionaries already understand and live according to what we are trying to accomplish on September 13th.  Missionaries understand that they must first adapt to the culture, get involved in the community, build relationships and then share the good news of the gospel.  They go out to find unbelievers while we expect unbelievers to come to us.  Just hearing and remembering that perspective has changed everything for me regarding the scattering. 

God is so good and He is sovereign.  We are not saviors by putting on a Sunday service. JESUS is our Savior and we are merely blessed to be used as tools to share the gospel within our culture and community...not just Monday-Saturday, but Sundays too. We are praying for the Holy Spirit to lead us and that on September 13th, relationships will be formed and strengthened. Our hope is that this will eventually open the doors for us to share the good news of God's amazing grace with those in our community! 

-Joe Walling (Gospel Life Church Deacon)

Why Scatter?

I grew up in church; therefore, getting up on a Sunday morning, putting on my church clothes, and making my way to a worship service is just about as normal as brushing my teeth. Sure I’ve missed a few services over the years, but church on Sunday is habitual for me. 

Yet as I think about our culture, the community in which we live, and the people who live all around me – this is NOT the norm for most. Actually, it’s more common for people to sleep in on a Sunday, go for a bike ride or hike, work in the yard, or watch a football game on TV. I know this goes without saying, but most people who live all around us DO NOT wake up on a Sunday morning thinking about Jesus and wanting to gather with the others to worship Him.

Because this is true, wouldn’t it be a good idea for God’s people, who normally gather on a Sunday morning, to set aside a Sunday and scatter throughout a community to intentionally meet people and reach them in the midst of what they are already doing?

Unfortunately, “evangelism” has often been communicated as a church program or an event we invite “non-Christians” to join. But what if evangelism was as simple as sharing your life with someone around you?

What if God really is in control and does the saving, so your role is to just let God love you and allow His love to flow through you into the lives of others? What if God’s plan of redemption is to love people who then love people? What if the love and grace of God really does contain the power to change even the most hardened heart? In 1 Thessalonians 2:8, Paul tells the Christians of Thessalonica that because of the gospel, he is COMPELLED to love them. Paul’s love was expressed when he willingly shared his life with others in an authentic and transparent way. You see, as rescued people we’ve been blessed to be a blessing–so receive the overwhelming love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness of God and watch it flow into the lives of those around us. When we openly share our lives with others, we have opportunities to showcase the goodness and grace of Jesus’ finished work. We must ask the Holy Spirit to open our eyes to the things God is doing all around us and simply pour out the grace already given to us! This is God’s divine plan.

As you pray and process what it might look like for you and your family to share your life and showcase Jesus with the people God has placed all around you, think long term – this isn’t a program. Think about how God has already used you, where He has placed you, and how He might want to showcase who He is and what He has done through you. But remember: this isn’t about you and it’s definitely not about the Seahawks! This is all about Jesus and His plan, so go where He is working and get a front row seat!  I’m praying for you and your family! 

-Pastor Rob

Do You Believe?

If we don't understand Genesis 3, we won’t understand the rest of the Bible. It's foundational to what the rest of the Bible addresses. In fact, if we don't understand this chapter, we won’t be able to make sense of ourselves – we’ll struggle to make sense of life. So Genesis 3 isn’t only important to understanding the Bible as a whole – it’s essential if we are going to understand who we are and why life and the world is the way it is. The truth is that every problem we have, every unfulfilled longing, every frustration, every bit of relational tension that we encounter everyday – our anger, our sadness and anxiety – all stem from what happened on the day, in that garden, at that tree. The world is NOT the way that God originally designed it to be and intended it to be. And it’s in Genesis 3 that we find out why.

This chapter describes the devil casting doubt and as a result Adam and Eve failing to believe (in the moment they give in) that God is gracious and good and that in loving kindness, He has already provided all the rich resources and provision that they (and us today) will ever need, long for, desire and crave. Therefore, upon their moment of giving into the devil’s temptation, they are failing to believe that God is a giving God and that He created to GIVE not to GET. They, in that moment are failing to believe God and are beginning to believe in themselves. So Lack of Faith is what’s actually going on here – UNBELIEF is the root issue of their sinful behavior!

The Sin Beneath All Sins Is The Sin of Unbelief

 Faith is life under grace. It’s grace that says… it’s not up to you – you can’t make yourself, you can’t create yourself and definitely can’t save yourself, not matter how hard you try… BUT GOD (my favorite words in the Bible) comes down from above to make it happen for you. This is Freedom of Faith. But faith in what? Faith in the promise that was made in Genesis 3:15 – But even more than that – faith in the ONE whom God promised in Genesis 3:15. Faith in the Redeemer, faith in the Rescuer, faith in the great Restorer of all things! This is the promise that faith clings to…On the cross, the seed of the woman (Jesus Christ) crushed the head of the serpent and so demolished all the ideas that we can ever make ourselves “Right” and set ourselves free.

The gospel is really, really GOOD NEWS friends because it declares that I don't need to save myself, defend myself, legitimize myself, and justify myself. The gospel really does set me free (Gal. 5:1). It has the power to do this because it frees me from the pressure to search the world for happiness and get for myself what I think it need to be satisfied. The announcement of the gospel proclaims that Jesus has already secured everything I could ever want, long for, desire and crave. God has already giving me EVERYTHING. The moment I first trusted in God – God made me a new creation “In Christ” (2 Cor. 5:17).

Everything I Want, Long For, Desire and crave - I Already Possess In Christ Jesus

Therefore, the gospel is an announcement that I’m not my own, but I’m also not on my own – God’s got me and He’s NOT holding out on me. God loves me and has provided for me already everything I need in the person and work of Jesus Christ.  So it’s not up to me, it's not up to you – to “get” anything…EVER to secure yourselves or satisfy yourselves. Now it’s when we realize this and give up trying to GET and REST in what God has already GIVEN we will experience true freedom (John 8:36) and the abundant life (John 10:10) that Jesus promised to Christian people. That’s the Freedom of Faith! Do You Believe?

Rob’s Sermon Recap | James 5:12-20

As the book of James draws to a close, we see the author further and finally reinforce his main idea that a gospel-driven life is one that will ultimately be manifested practically, on the ground, in every day situations. In somewhat surprising fashion, James draws his argument to a climax in 5:12 concluding that above all: straight-forward, oath-less, honest speech is a distinguishing mark of a gospel-centered life.

Upon further reflection though, this makes sense for we know that Jesus tells us out of the heart the mouth speaks and therefore the content of our speech indicates the content of our souls - is gospel-content found down deep? So the question is: Is liberating trust in Christ found down deep? Or, does dishonesty, boasting, and self-righteousness pour forth from your lips?

If so, it can be an indication that we are still held captive to self in some way, shape or form and are concerned more with what people think of us instead of being captivated by what God thinks of us in Christ Jesus.

I cross-referenced the sermon text with Luke 4:16-21, highlighting it’s theme of Christ-proclaimed liberty. The reality is that Jesus came to set captives (like you and me) free and when we lie (in that moment) it’s an indicator that we are enslaved to something or someone other than Jesus. Paul said in Galatians 5:1 that it was, “For freedom that Christ set us free, stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” I hope and pray that we can live as free people as God intends for us to live in Christ Jesus and never again go back to being a slave to anything ever again!

Please plan on joining us Sunday as I will putting a bow on the Book of James and share the three lessons I've learned from our study that are essential for us moving forward as a church. 

Be patient…Jesus is coming!

Post by Deacon Kyle Rogers

Post by Deacon Kyle Rogers

This week in our study of James we dove into James 5:7-11. Here’s what James writes to his fellow early Christians scattered throughout the Mediterranean world:

Be patient…Jesus is coming!

Writing to a group of persecuted, homeless, and waiting Christians that had fled from their homes in Jerusalem and dispersed throughout the surrounding areas, James starts this passage off with an encouragement to be patient. However, because no command in the bible ever carries with it the obedience required to be fulfilled, James tells them how they can grow patience. He says, “Be patient, therefore, brother, until the coming of the Lord”. If they could remember by faith that Jesus would in fact come back for His own they would know that their trials were temporary and that hope could be find in the midst of suffering through Jesus.

Be patient…God has a purpose!

You have heard of the steadfastness of Job and you have seen the purpose of the Lord…,” James writes. In every trial that every prophet or patriarch of the faith endured in the Old Testament, it was clear looking back that God always had a purpose for that trial to glorify Himself and provide for His people. James reminds his once-Jewish/now-Christian audience of these stories of God’s faithfulness in order to spur on their faith in their present trials and suffering. If they could remember that God was faithful, that God had a plan, and that God always came through for the Abrahams’ and the Moses’ and the Jobs’ and the Elijahs’…they too could remember to put their trust in God through of season of great suffering.

Be patient…God never changes!

“…you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful”. There’s something about seeing the Lord in the context of eternity that makes us feel very small and makes Him seem VERY big! This is what James reminds his audience of as he wraps up this thought: through trials and suffering, God never changes. He’s always compassionate. He’s always merciful. He’s always bigger than the trial. And He’s always present through the trial. If God never changes and His character is the same yesterday, today, and forever, then the persecuted Christian’s James is writing to would have great reason to place their hope in the God who’s bigger than their circumstance!

So how can I be patient?

We’ve read about what James had to say to the early church about patience in the midst of suffering…but what about my life? How can I grow patience? Here’s the good news of the gospel for you today:

You’re not patient. In fact, you can’t be patient. The gospel tells me that patience isn’t something that I can muster up or produce in my own strength no matter how self-willed or determined I may be. When I lose control or my anger flairs up I completely forget how to be patient and I respond with impatience, anxiety, and frustration. However, the gospel doesn’t leave me there.

The gospel tells me that while I can never be patient on my own, Jesus lived a life of perfect patience for me…something no man had done before and something no man has done alone ever since. Not only that, the gospel also tells me that when Jesus went to the cross on my behalf, He went with perfect patience for my sin in order to crush my impatience and offer me a brand new life of freedom through Him. Now, by trusting that He lived for me, died for me, and rose again for me I actually begin to grow patience! Wow!!

When I apply this truth to my life...TODAY…in the midst of my anxiety and my fear and my anger…I’m choosing to trust in the finished work of the gospel and place my faith in Jesus instead of in me. This is what it means to live the Gospel Life!! Amen!

So here’s the challenge for you right now: turn to Jesus today in the midst of your impatience. Stop trying to be a patient person on your own. It’ll never work. Run to the cross, look to Jesus, repent of your impatience and look to the perfect patience of your Lord and Savior Jesus. This is where freedom is found…and it’s for freedom that you’ve been set free (Galatians 5:1)!

“…[look] to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.” (Hebrews 12:2-3)

What's Your Path?

This past Sunday, we put the finishing touches on another chapter in the book of James. In James 4:13-17, he addresses the subject of gospel-centered planning in the life of a Christian and instructs us that there are two possible paths before all of us: the path of presumption and the path of peace.

 The presumptuous path is taken by the person who shows an excessive measure of self-confidence or as James puts it – ARROGANCE (James 4:15) and lives a self-determined life instead of a God-determined life. This path is ultimately one that believes tomorrow will always be there (thereby procrastinating in prioritizing God in their life) and believes that the results of today rest entirely on their shoulders and ability. We discovered that this path has the facade of freedom, because it is a life limited to the person traveling it, the path of presumption will eventually lead to slavary. On the flip side, the path of peace is the one taken by the person who understands and relishes in the reality that James reminds us of in James 4:14 that life is but a fleeting mist or puff of smoke. This sobering reminder might at first glance seem discouraging but in fact is quite encouraging.

Coming to grips with the reality of our smallness is liberating when we understand that such smallness is swept up into the cosmic grandeur of God’s plan of redemption. Our smallness is worthy of embracing because all of our confidence, meaning, security, purpose and dignity is bound up in the person and work of Jesus Christ - the one who took on fading flesh, died and rose, paying the penalty for sin that us "mist-like" creatures deserved so that we might be saved, solid children of God.

So in reality a God-Determined life, traveling the path of peace is the abundant life that Jesus promises in John 10:10. It’s a life that's NOT limited at all because it’s the life that Jesus achieved for us. It’s a life full of peace, joy, significance, meaning and purpose, because it’s a life reliant upon the finished work of Jesus Christ. It's a life of abundance, enjoying every moment of everyday everything that Jesus earned in his perfect sinless life. It’s a life of freedom because it’s not dependent on self and it's not for self, but instead it's a life that's all about Jesus in every way! So are you "In Christ"? If so this is your life. God gives it to you by faith! If you believe God is who He is and has done what He says He has done in the person and work of Jesus Christ - it is YOURS . So live in it - travel the path of peace, take God at His Word and live the life that Jesus has provided for you in His Son, Jesus Christ!

Need Some Relational Healing?

In this section of James’ letter (James 4:1-6) he addresses relationships, recognizing that it’s in the context of our many relationships that our grasp of God’s grace, or the lack thereof, can be seen most clearly. The gospel teaches us that the principle cause of the relational breakdown we experience cannot be blamed on things outside of us, but has everything to do with the sin inside of us.

Therefore, the solution is not to look within ourselves (by doing more, trying harder, asserting “self”) but rather by continually looking to the once-and-for-all work of Jesus Christ on the cross which saves us and frees us to admit our pride; selfishness; and wrong-doing in the context of our relationships and humbly ask for God’s grace. Consequently then what restores relationships is believing the gospel – taking God at his word in places like Ephesians 1 and Colossians 1 – and receiving the truth and functionally believing that as Christians, we have EVERY SPIRITUAL BLESSING we could want, long for, crave and desire in Jesus Christ. When we don't believe this we fight and quarrel to get what we think we must have to feel safe, secure, significant and satisfied. 

“Under every behavioral sin is the sin of idolatry and under every idol is disbelief in the gospel.”- Martin Luther

On the other hand, a person who KNOWS they already have everything they need, crave, long for and desire because they KNOW Jesus has secured it for them already, they can live a life of humility that's expressed from a "my life for you" posture.  A person who lives a "my life for you" life will discover peace, freedom and find relational healing in their relationships because they'll be able to extend the forgiveness and grace that they've received vertically, horizontally to those around them, which will halt the fights and quarrels they used to experience!

Humility is the best answer to your relational strife. And humility will become a reality in your life when you receive Jesus words, “It is Finished” into new and deeper parts of your inner most being every moment of everyday. When we receive the reality that “It is Finished” into the rebellious regions of our unbelief, we will discover peace, security and radical freedom! We will begin to live our lives from a “my life for you” posture and life of humility. 



Worldly Wisdom = Foolishness

In this section of James’ letter (James 3:13-18), he compares and contrasts two basic approaches to life: one can either approach life with worldly wisdom or heavenly wisdom. James shows us that worldly wisdom is marked by bitter jealousy, whose root is really the idol of entitlement; and selfish ambition, whose root is personal achievement (“If I don’t achieve, then I don’t matter).

Worldly wisdom is a life governed by devotion to self. In contrast to worldly wisdom, heavenly wisdom is not “from below” but rather comes from above, it’s from God and consequently is driven by grace, unconditional love, and as a result will ultimately lead to joy and freedom since it places its trust and focus on God and not on self.

I mentioned that grace according to one author is ONE-WAY LOVE. This means that grace is love that seeks you out when you have nothing to give in return. It's love coming at you that has nothing to do with you. Grace is being loved when you are unlovable. Now this is good news. This unconditional “one-way love” is what will change a person’s heart.

This truth has radically impacted me. It has changed the way I parent, live with my wife and talk to and about people. The grace of God is at the heart of heavenly wisdom and is the change agent that will transform the life a Christian. If we approach life with heavenly wisdom instead of worldly wisdom, we will be able to be patient and give grace time to work in the lives of those we love and desire to meet Jesus.

James desire here is to make us aware of what takes place in our lives even though we seldom think about it or realize it. The truth is that most of us have (unwittingly) prescribing to worldly wisdom, which has led to the relational strife we often experience. 

What area of your life would be radically changed if looked at through the lens of heavenly wisdom rather than worldly wisdom? This lens is Jesus – the embodiment of wisdom – he encapsulates the amazing grace of God! It’s ALL about Jesus! So let's turn to Jesus, release control, trust in His finished work for us, and be transformed at a deep heart level!