Are You Pursuing Holiness?

New International Version: “For it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’” (1 Peter 1:16)

I see a scary trend happening among Christians. There is an acceptance of compromise in our walks with Christ. I have had conversations and overheard Christians sharing their convictions (or lack thereof) about issues that have a great impact on their relationship with the Lord.

What leads people to accept compromise in their convictions is a false understanding of holiness. Holiness is not defined as perfection. Perfection leads us to defeat; holiness inspires us to worship. Perfection pursues the right appearance. Holiness desires a pure heart. The church seems to have mixed the two up.

Observe this definition of holiness provided by “Personal holiness is a work of gradual development. It is carried on under many hindrances, hence the frequent admonitions to watchfulness, prayer, and perseverance (1).” Holiness is being lead by the Lord, with an undefiled heart, towards a more perfect union with Him.

I propose three ways to check yourself to see if you are pursuing holiness in your life with Christ. I was convicted myself as I wrote these words, but I think they are practical and helpful insights.

  1. Check your heart.What is your heart yearning for? What stirs your affections and desires at the deepest level? Granted, there are many good things in our lives (e.g. family, friends, material possessions), but none should cause more of a stirring of emotion than thinking of Jesus.
  2. Check your mouth.The mouth will always indicate what is in the heart, given enough time. If you are compromising in your language, you have probably become complacent with compromise in other areas. Ask others around you how your tone sounds. Are you communicating with an edge? Maybe you are being short and don’t realize it. This is a regular check up for me. My tone can tell me a lot about the state of my heart.
  3. Check your entertainment choices. I’m not going to delve too deeply here since a lot of entertainment is a matter of personal conviction, but if you are actively searching and seeking material that clearly violates God’s desire for your purity, chances are you aren’t pursing holiness with your whole heart.

I hope you are encouraged by this post. My desire is that you realize holiness is not meeting a standard on your own. Rather, it is the action of setting your heart aside for the Lord and pursuing purity for the sake of your relationship with God!

Remember He loves you and wants to commune with you. He desires holiness because he desires you, and he wants all of you!

God bless, and have a wonderful Saturday!


Photograph taken by Stefan Kunze

Three Benefits of Being a Humble Person

Proverbs 3:34 (GNT)

“He has no use for conceited people, but shows favor to those who are humble.”

Humility is both an endearing and elusive quality. People who are described as humble by others could be said to possess character traits like “unassuming, fun – loving, relaxed, nonjudgmental, or non – confrontational.” Here is the bottom line: humble people are attractive people.

Although we Christians understand that there are plenty of benefits to being a humble person, we often times find it difficult to practice this aspect of Christ – like behavior. I think there are three baseline problems that cause pride.

1.Familiar settings/surroundings.It is easy to be “in our element” at work, home, or school and feel very comfortable. We are most likely well known and feel capable in that particular place, so our need for provision appears to be less.

2. Sin in the life of the believer.Sin can create a skewed perspective of self and others. Repetitive sin leads to shame and shame leads to a misunderstanding of Christian identity and belonging. For some reason, the response is to put up walls between ourselves and surrounding individuals, and this wall usually appears in the form of haughtiness and impersonal actions.

3. A natural disposition to believing we are better than others.Don’t be ashamed of it. We all think it to some level. Everyone on this planet believes in some shape and fashion that you are better than most people around you. It may not be full blown narcissism or a belief that you are better at everything, but it is hard to fight the feelings of superiority in your areas of expertise when they rise up, and that’s just one example.

To contrast the list above, here’s a list of three things that humble people enjoy that arrogant people cut themselves off of.

1.Honest relationships.Humble people have no pride to maintain, so they are willing to be honest. They are not looking for someone to support their sin struggles or tell them that they are “good.” This type of honesty allows for them to have strong relationships full of trust.

2. A gravitational pull.Allow me to explain. Humble people naturally draw in almost everyone. Why? First, they are Christ-like, and people are naturally drawn to the love of Christ. Second, humble people accept others for who they are because they don’t feel a threat to their security. Therefore, humble people can love people purely, and that’s attractive!

3. Experiencing the strong presence of God.Read the verse again at the top. There is not much else I can add. God is ready and willing to lavish his love on the humble. If you want more of God, you will have to have less of you.

So, let’s choose humility this week! You never know what relationships could develop, especially your relationship with Christ.

God bless, and have a great Tuesday.





When No One Is Watching

Luke 2:52: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.”

Philippians 1:6: “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”

We are taught in the Bible that from the time of salvation until the time of our death, we are being sanctified, or “being made holy.” Our sanctification process is a sometimes painful, always insightful, and seemingly boring walk through a challenging life. What I want to focus on in this post is that last point – “seemingly boring.”

I value Luke 2:52 because this verse encapsulates so much important information into a short, simple statement. In fact, our next encounter with Jesus is found in Luke 3 when He gets baptized by John the Baptist. Much is left out but there is ample to be gathered from the silence as well.

We know that Jesus was a carpenter (sometimes translated “stone mason” from the original language) because He was the son of a carpenter, Joseph. Additionally, it was commonplace for sons to retain the trade of their fathers. Thus, we can pretty clearly assume Christ was a craftsman that was familiar with wood and stone.

He also grew up in a small town of Nazareth. This town was simple, quiet, and uneventful. This is where Jesus “increased in wisdom and in stature.”

I don’t know what stage of life you are in right now, but we can all admit there are boring days. Some days drag on with nothing exciting to anticipate. Routine can be stifling. Think about this: Christ’s process of becoming the complete Messiah took place in a town where no one was watching with anticipation, while doing a career that no one cared to know about, with a family that was insignificant, or so the outside world assumed.

You may feel like you are a small fish in a big pond. Maybe you feel lost in this massive world. I bet that some of you reading this are struggling with insignificance. You think because no one is reading your name in headlines or because no one knows the intensity of your struggle that you must not matter. You do!

Just as your Savior grew and developed spiritually and physically in anonymity, so you are being grown and reared in your time of obscurity. This time of quiet is where the Lord works out the salvation that He promised to you from the time you put your trust in Him.

Although on the exterior things may look pretty dreary, inside God is doing a miraculous work that could not be completely described with words! Choose God’s vantage point today. Rejoice in the fact that there are no wasted moments in the economy of God. I promise you He is completing you and making you more like his Son. So rejoice in the silence, the mundane, and the tiresome. God’s only getting started with you.

God bless, and have a great Saturday.

Photograph taken by Sandis Helvigs


“Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.’” – Matthew 11:28 (NLT)

As with a lot of Christian teaching, some of these statements loose their impact as they are overused. Over time, Scriptures like these can become dull. I want to avoid that. Hopefully this post will provide a fresh take on what it means to rest.

Although overused, this verse is one of the most comforting in all of Scripture. Christ gives us the opportunity to rest. Our world is busy, and rightfully so. It is noble to be driven to accomplish goals and to gather achievements but there are times when we have to simply rest.

Note that Christ is inviting, but also instructing us to rest. In fact, the word “come” in the Greek was followed by an imperative. In other words, Christ is trying to instruct you in a behavior that he knows is best for you.

So, now that we understand the presentation of Christ’s words, how do we put it into practice?

First, we have to make a conscious effort to allow Christ to stow our minds. Some people aren’t over thinkers (God bless you!), but regardless, we all have a propensity to get worked up and worried over any number of variables. Furthermore, sometimes we are busy finding solutions for problems, analyzing relationships, planning, or any number of mentally taxing activities. Therefore, our minds must be submitted to hearing the Lord and giving him some time to speak to us. Obviously, the best way to do this is in devotional time, when we “come to Him,” so to speak.

Second, rest is granted when we give him our “heavy burdens.” Prayer is indeed therapeutic. It allows us to process our problems while using the wisdom that comes from heaven via the Holy Spirit. Prayer gives a new perspective. It provides clarity of thought. It allows for meditation upon God’s precepts, his promises, and his provision. Seeing things from His point of view reminds us Who holds it all together, allowing us to relax when we realize we don’t have to control our worlds.

Last, receive His rest. Submitting control can be hard. It’s a challenge to trust someone else with your life. It only makes sense that we want to call the shots because no one cares more than we do – or at least we think that. God has our best interest in mind, and often times, we aren’t even thinking for our long term best. Learning to submit and be in His presence through quiet time will grant you that rejuvenation you need.

To review, spend some time in God’s Word and prayer, quiet your heart, submit your problems and concerns to His care, and trust him with the results.

God bless, and have a great Tuesday.

Photograph taken by Patrycja Tomaszczyk




How Do You Use Your Words?

Proverbs 17:27: “He who has knowledge spares his words, And a man of understanding is of a calm spirit.”

Proverbs 10:19: “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, But he who restrains his lips is wise.”

James 1:19: “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath”

Matthew 12:36 – 37: “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”

I love these verses. One of them is taped to my mirror (Proverbs 17:27). I believe there is some serious value in reading these verses, internalizing them, and then committing them to memory.

I also love spending time with people who are much, much older than I am. I envy their wisdom and resolve. There seems to be a sense of “understanding” that comes with their steadfastness, and a “calm” that emulates from them because of their foresight and knowledge based on prior experience.

As a young man, it is easy to let my words run ahead of my common sense at times. Often, I can even tell when I have talked myself into a situation I wish I wouldn’t have. So, to remedy my tendency to have rash reasoning and immature communication, I came up with a list of actions that I want to put in place for my life, regarding my use of my words.

“Spare my words.” It is easy at times to feel like I need to interject or add some detail when the transmitter really wants me to simply receive the message. I often times remind myself in social situations that I need to listen and respond with my body language, and wait for my cue to interject advice, insight, or input.

“A calm spirit.” A calm spirit comes from an understanding that the Lord directs my steps (Proverbs 16:9). A man of old age who is a faithful believer in Christ has a calm spirit because he trusts that the Lord has his best interest in mind and will act accordingly. Therefore, he doesn’t have to try and control the situation at hand. That reasoning leads to a lack of internal turbulence. I definitely want to adopt that mindset for myself!

“Restrain my lips” in order that I might avoid a “multitude of sins.” Think of that man or woman that is always trying to be funny or clever. They often cross the line. The same is true in any other facet of verbal communication. Less is usually more!

“Swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” How much more would I know if I were quick to listen? How many times could I have saved myself heartache if I would have not said a hurtful phrase? How many relationships could I have salvaged or maintained had I not gotten angry for some small reason? All of these questions bring back regret. I want to remember my mistakes in each area and try to be a better listener and a more thoughtful responder.

Words are a privilege. Remember that we will have to “give an account” of the ones we used. Let’s use ours wisely and unto the Lord for His glory. Have a blessed Saturday!

Photograph taken by Jakub Rostkowski

Are You Content?

Think about the most content people you know in your life. What kind of characteristics do they display? If I were asked to describe content people I would most likely say that they are peaceful, steady, joyous, encouraging, secure, friendly, and non-threatening. In contrast, a discontented person displays characteristics in thought and behavior that are opposite what was listed above. Now, if we are at times discontent, these qualities do not define who we are, but we can find ourselves adopting some of these behaviors if we are not careful. The real question is, what keeps you and I from being content people? The answer: ourselves!

Maintaining a content spirit is challenging because it requires a choice to focus on eternity or present day circumstances. I have to make the choice to rest in what the Lord has given me, good or bad. For me, my contentment often times is controlled by my circumstances. For example, if the sun is shining it is all of the sudden “a good day”; if I score well on an exam, I am overflowing with thanksgiving. As I assessed my view of contentment for this post, I realized it is not very biblical and it is convictingly shallow and flimsy. So how do I change that?

Observe the apostle Paul’s explanation of contentment: “I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.” (Philippians 4:12). If we are not careful we can read over this verse the same way we sometimes do with Philippians 4:13 (“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”). However, there is some practical meat that we can consume from Paul’s words.

What Paul tells us is that he doesn’t let his circumstances affect his eternal perspective. His eyes are fixed upon his future home (heaven) and the time that he will spend in the Lord’s presence (forever!). If we are going to be content people, we first have to be truly convinced of our eternal destination. Knowing and remembering that this side of heaven is not our home leads to an expectant spirit for our time spent in eternity. So, once our circumstances are submitted to the Lord and we are using the right lenses to view the present day we are in, then contentment becomes attainable.

One final thought is this: content people are some of the most invigorating people to be around. Being confident and satisfied with the current life and circumstances the Lord has given you can really fill other people up. I’m not saying it is easy, but if Paul could do it, so can we! Let’s commit to being people that other people want to be around! Jesus really is enough and that is very easy to forget. Thank God for Scriptures like Philippians 4:12 that remind us that no circumstance can shake internal resolve. God bless and have a great Tuesday!

Photograph taken by Ian Schneider


Who’s Your Mentor?

Oh the infamous verse, Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend” (NKJV). Men’s ministries love to rally around this and declare loudly and proudly that they are now committed to accountability. Pastors preach and teach friendship principles from this particular verse. Don’t get me wrong, I think those are valuable ways to interpret and apply this verse, and if people are using this verse with a genuine heart, then their intentions are dignified. But let’s look at this Scripture from the viewpoint of the mentor – mentee relationship.

Have you ever wondered why God uses relationships to make us more like Jesus? I was pondering this concept the other day, often called discipleship by the Christian circles that most of us run in, and I had an idea come to mind that I have never thought of before. I believe that God uses mentors in all of our lives to keep us humble! Having God as my guide does keep me humble. I constantly see my need for divine wisdom and insight. But, having an earthly guide who is imperfect but also kind, loving, and willing to work with me through the difficulties that my personality presents is also very humbling. Taking instruction from my mentor calls for me to lay down my pride of thinking I know better and trusting that this individual has been there, done that, and has learned some valuable things about God that I need to learn myself.

Who are you being mentored by? I am young and immature and I know that I need older men in my life who balance out my drive (I am very internally Type A) and help me see that life is not all about accomplishing goals and living out your dreams. Likewise, my theology is still being formed and shaped, so I know I need men of great wisdom and practicality in my life that can help grow me with biblical counsel. Young people, please hear me when I plead with you to find credible people around you and soak up as much as you can from them. Your mentor will not be perfect, and they still have potential to let you down, but they also have tremendous ability to lift you up. Don’t ever sell their power of intercession and intervention short!

Lastly, to those of you who are “more advanced” in age, who are you mentoring? We young people desperately need your help! We want to learn and  know the best way to go about leading a life that honors Christ! Most of us are very eager to be taught the Lord’s precepts.

If you are already being mentored or are actively pouring into the lives of others, wonderful! Please continue to set an example within the church of leadership, love, and involvement. God bless!

Photograph taken by Jeff Sheldon