When the Bible is hard to understand

When the Bible is hard to understand
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

What do you do when the Bible is hard to understand?

What do you do when the Bible is hard to understand?

This week — actually for the past 2 weeks — I’ve been working on writing a lesson for Daniel 9. Daniel 9 is a chapter that contains some prophecies that make it kind of tricky to understand. As I worked on this lesson this week, I thought I would share 3 tips with you to help you understand the Bible when it gets hard to understand.

Tip 1: It’s all about Jesus

All of it is about Jesus

The most important overarching principle of reading the Bible is that it’s all about Jesus. All of the Bible — both Old and New Testaments — tell us about Christ. The Old Testament tells us why we need Christ an what he will be like when he comes.

When the religious leaders were trying to entrap and kill Jesus he told them:
You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me
John 5:39 ESV

From the very beginning of the Bible we see foreshadowing of Jesus. Following Adam and Eve’s first sin, God told serpent:

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.
Genesis 3:15 ESV

Then, he covered the first family’s nakedness by executing an animal and covering them with its skin. This anticipates the principle from Hebrews 9:22:

…without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. Hebrews 9:22 ESV

It also demonstrates that the failure of the man and woman to cover their nakedness with the clothing they tried to make from fig leaves was because they needed a covering for their sin that came from the sacrifice just as our righteousness is the gift of God purchased by the sacrifice of Jesus:

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness…
Isaiah 61:10 ESV

This thread of Christ and his deliverance is echoed throughout the Old Testament. For instance, when the nation of Israel needed a hero, David arrived on the scene and killed the giant while the other warriors cowered nearby. Jesus is the Savior who slew the giants of sin and death when all we could do was cower on the sidelines.

About Jesus, not me (or you)

The challenge we face as 21st Century readers is that we often try to find ourselves, rather than Jesus, as we read the Bible. The Bible is about Jesus. He is the main character of the Bible. Every story in the Bible primarily teaches us about him. Every other character in the Bible was a supporting Character whose arc was devised to tell us about Jesus. We have a similar role in redemptive history. Our own stories are brief interactions with Jesus that continue to show him and his glory to others.

Always begin reading the Bible by looking for Jesus.

Tip 2: Genre matters

We all read different types of books, but we don’t read them all the same way. Great fiction authors and historians are both trying to teach us something about our world, but they do it very differently.

Some people talk about reading the Bible literally. That’s exactly how the Bible should be read if, by literally, you mean according to a passage’s type of literature. Different books and passages from the Bible have to be understood differently.

Much of the Bible is narrative. God uses joy and heartbreak in the lives of his people to show us what he is like. Some of the Bible is poetry that proclaims the greatness of God. It often uses metaphors and allusions to show us who God is and how he has revealed himself to us. Some of the Bible is wisdom literature full of insights how to live in a way that allows our lives to point to Jesus. Some of the Bible teaches us very directly who Jesus is and what he has done for us. Much of the Apostles’ writings clearly tell us who Jesus was and what he was like.

Always try to understand what genre you are reading when you read the Bible.

Tip 3: Look for law and gospel

When many people think of God’s law, they think of The Ten Commandments or the first five books of the Old Testament. Those are full of God’s law, but there’s more to it than that. When many people think of the gospel, they think of the first four books of the New Testament or the passages in the New Testament letters that tell us about how Jesus died receiving the punishment for our sin and rose from the grave. That, of course, is the gospel. But, did you know that you can use the law and gospel as a tool for understanding all of the Bible?

Thou shalt…

When you read the Bible, always keep your eyes open for commands. Commands or imperatives are the law of God in both the Old and New Testaments. When Moses or David or Jesus or Paul or Peter gives us a command, that command is law. Law usually pretty easy to identify because it has a verb that involves doing something like: “Thou shalt,” “you must,” “you should,” “do this,” or “do that.” Back in the 16th Century theologians understood that these commands that make up the law of God exist for three big reasons (I used Ligonier Ministries web site to refresh my memory on these):

  1. To show us our sin — all of us.
    When God gives us a command, if we are honest, we realize we don’t measure up to it. God’s law demands perfection, and we all break all the laws all the time. That’s why in the sermon on the mount, Jesus describes adultery as looking with lust and murder as being angry with someone. (No, not all anger is murder or every look at a woman is adultery, but we have all crossed those lines.) God’s law first shows us how we fall short, so we will look to Jesus for our salvation.
  2. To restrain us.
    God’s law given through scripture and through civil authorities gives all of us a sense of right and wrong throughout all history and in every culture. We all understand that taking from others is wrong even though different cultures draw the lines a little differently.
  3. To tell us God’s will.
    How do we know God’s will? The law tells us how God wants us to live. When we are obedient to God’s law, we are doing God’s will. When we have a decision that is not guided by God’s law, we act in wisdom and freedom. (More on that another time.)

You are…

What about the gospel? Whenever you see in the Bible a statement that tells you who you are in Christ, you are reading an announcement of who God has made you in Christ. Throughout the Bible, we see statements about us that tell us we are healed, resurrected, forgiven, righteous and children of God among many, many other promises in Christ. All of these promises find their “yes” in Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:20).

No, I’m not talking about prosperity gospel because the fulfillment of these promises is in our resurrection in Christ — the completion of which we will not experience in this life. But, we do receive the firstfruits of our resurrection in this life as the Holy Spirit dwells in every believer as the seal of our salvation as well as Christ’s presence with us in the Spirit as we go about the task of making disciples.

So, as you read the Bible always keep your eye open for commands and promises that teach us our shortcomings and God’s will for our obedience as well as God’s promises to us in Christ.

What if you need a little more help?

Well, I guess it’s time for me to finish my lesson on Daniel 9. Say a prayer for me that I get it right. That leads me to the last tool we have when we need to know what the Bible says: commentaries.

Just about any time I write a lesson or a sermon, I find a good commentary to help me correctly understand the passage I am teaching. I like to think of commentaries like having another believer (who is way smarter than I am) to guide me through the text I am teaching.

When I’m reading a passage in order to teach through it, I often have insights that bring the passage to life. Those are really exciting moments because I know the people I will be teaching will be wowed by something about God or what he has done for us. Commentaries are very important to me in these moments because I want to make sure that insight is not something new.

I know you’re probably thinking: “Wait a minute! Don’t you want to share something new?” Yes. I want to share an insight that is new to the people I am teaching. However, I don’t want to share a completely new idea. Because the Bible has been studied for over two thousand years, someone has had just about all the correct understandings of the Bible. Any new understanding I have about a biblical text is probably wrong. So, when I’m studying a passage, and I come up with an idea I can’t find in a commentary, I check another commentary. If I can’t find it after checking a couple, I move on. As much as I want to share new ideas with the people I teach, I want to get it right.

The problem for most people is that commentaries can be kind of expensive. Here are a couple solutions:

First, John Calvin has written commentaries on just about every book of the Bible. His commentaries are available online for free. They are not super easy to understand, but they are a great place to start if you don’t have another option available to you. You can find them here: https://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/commentaries.i.html

Warren Wiersbe has also written a commentary on just about every book of the Bible. These are available individually or together in two volumes. You can probably find them wherever your order books. Here is a link to the set at lifeway.com. The lifeway version comes with a CD ROM I assume is searchable:
https://www.lifeway.com/en/product/wiersbe-bible-commentary-2-vol-set-w-cd-rom-P005106932

Another great solution is to simply make sure the commentaries you are purchasing are worth having. Before I buy just about any commentary, I check bestcommentaries.com. There you can find a list of commentaries for every book of the Bible. Each commentary is rated with info on how helpful it is to people with different purposes.

Because the Bible is worth getting right, I would encourage you to begin investing in commentaries as you work to understand the Bible.

And pray

Oh yeah. And pray. Maybe, we should have started there. God’s Spirit who dwells inside every believer works in us, so we can understand God’s word. Jesus is God’s revelation to us — he is all the revelation we need (Hebrews 1:1-3). The Bible about 1,500 years of God-breathed words telling us about Jesus. God’s Spirit illuminates that revelation, so we can understand who Jesus is and how to follow him at the deepest part of who we are. So, anytime you open your Bible, pray. Ask God to cause his Spirit to use those words to change you at your very core, so you can be a disciple of Jesus and a disciple-maker.

And, as you pray, please pray for me. When I read the Bible God uses his words not just to instruct me, but to instruct hundreds of other people.

God’s word is rich. It is active in every believer by his Spirit, so read it, understand it and let God’s Spirit change you.

Have questions? Send our pastor a note

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God is great and we are busy

God is great and we are busy
Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

As we get ready to begin a new year at CrossRoads, we are going to take some time to reflect on the reality that God is great. Today, I want you to think about our challenge to being witnesses to his greatness: We are busy.

God is great…

One of the questions I ask followers of Jesus all the time is: “How have you been a witness to the greatness of Christ this week?” Do you know what answer I usually get? “I don’t know.”

How can a follower of Jesus answer that question: “I don’t know”?!?

We are busy…

I think the answer is pretty simple: We are busy.

I don’t think there’s a single follower of Jesus who says to themselves: “I don’t want to be a witness to Jesus’ greatness today.” But, it’s hard to look back on a day, a week or a year and try to figure out how you have been a witness to the greatness of Christ. Seriously, most mornings I wake up, and yesterday is a blur. I can’t usually tell you what in the world I spent my time doing. I can remember a few important things I did, but the rest is just a spatter of activity. I even take time every morning to reflect on yesterday and think about what I have on my plate today, and I just can’t remember!

Over the past year, I’ve spent a lot of time working on how to be more productive. One of the productivity gurus I’ve been learning from is Michael Hyatt. He is a high-level performer. He knows how to get things done, and he’s great at helping other people how to get things done, too. You can find his resources at his website or on Amazon. As I have read Hyatt’s books and used his planner, there is one super-important principle I have found over and over again.

Simplify.

We are creatures who thrive on simplicity. In a world where God is great and we are busy, we need goals, objectives, systems and habits that simplify and declutter our lives.

One of the principles Hyatt teaches is to spend time each week and every day deciding what will be your Big Three: What are the three most important things you will get done? These are the three things that take us out of the rat race into the world of accomplishing something — and knowing what it is we accomplished! Every day you begin by consciously deciding what your Big Three will be. Every week, you spend some time thinking about what you want to accomplish this week and decide on a Big Three for the week as well. What Hyatt points out in his books and planner is that we often don’t get more than three things accomplished each day, so we should simplify our plan for each day to three big things that will make our day or week a success. That way, we can look back at yesterday or last week and celebrate that we really got something done to make our lives, our work, our families and the world a better place.

One of the keys to making sure we are being witnesses to the greatness of Christ every day is to make one of our Big Three items reflect that goal. Take a few minutes to reflect on these ideas as you think about life in a world where God is great and we are busy:

  • What are the Big Three things you want to get done today?
  • How will those Big Three things give you something to celebrate that you made your life, your work, your family and the world a better place?
  • How will one of the Big Three things you are going to accomplish be a testimony to the greatness of Christ?

Share your thoughts…

  • What is one way you are going to be a witness to the greatness of Christ today?
  • What is one thing you will do to simplify your life this year?
  • What’s one of your Big Three things you are going to accomplish today or this week?

Have questions? Send our pastor a note

Find out what to expect your first Sunday at CrossRoads

Check out what’s coming soon at CrossRoads

New Year Clean Slate

new year clean slate

The new year with a clean slate is almost here. This week begins one of my favorite times of the year. I just began setting up my new planner. Except for a vacation and a few holidays, my plan for the new year is completely clean. There’s something great about a clean slate! One of the beautiful things about our faith. We have a God who is all about clean slates.

In Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV), Jeremiah writes of God:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

God truly gives is a clean slate. Always! You just read it from Lamentations: his mercies never come to an end. Every day — every moment — is an opportunity for a clean slate because of what Jesus has done for us. John, of course, puts it this way:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 ESV)

A clean slate.

So, if you have a clean slate, what do you do with it? Psalm 19 has some great answers to that question:

What do we do with a clean slate?

Start with God’s greatness

Psalm 19:1-6 ESV
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork…

Creation gets it right. The sky, the stars, the mountains, the ocean — they all proclaim God’s greatness. What would your clean slate or calendar look like if you were to fill it up with meetings, appointments and events that make God’s name great? What would you add to your 2020 planner that wasn’t there in 2019? What would you leave out?

You were created alongside the rest of creation to make the Creator’s name great. And, now that Creator has become your Savior and your Father.

Follow God’s Law

I know. We all hate rules. And sometimes that’s exactly what God’s Law can feel like sometimes. But, it’s so much more.

Psalm 19:7
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul…

God’s law is the words of our Father who loves us more than we love ourselves. His law is the words of our Savior who gave his own life for us. He won’t keep any good thing from us. The psalmist tells us to follow God’s law because it revives the deepest part of who we are.

What does your blank slate planner look like if you decide to fill it with loving God and meeting needs the way God’s teaches? Do you trust God to make it worth it?

Let your words and heart center on Christ

Psalm 19:14
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

In Matthew 6:33 Jesus said something that changed everything for me:

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Jesus promises that when our hearts are focused on our Father’s kingdom, we can rest that he will meet all the needs in our lives. What does it look like for you to fill up your conversations and your heart’s meditations with thoughts about your Father’s kingdom? How does that change what fills up your calendar next year?

It’s time to start your new planner. It’s pretty close to a clean slate at the moment. How are you going to fill it up the next 366 days?

Have questions? Send our pastor a note

Find out what to expect your first Sunday at CrossRoads

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When life is like a leaky toilet…

When life is like a leaky toilet

Has your life ever felt like a leaky toilet?

Sometimes life is like a leaky toilet. This past Sunday, someone let me know one of our toilets wasn’t working right. Not a problem! I know how to fix a toilet! So, I made a trip to the local plumbing supply store. I did what we all do when we go to a place like that: I took pictures of everything and said, “I’m a pastor, so I don’t really know what I’m doing. I need one of these.”

I’ve learned that places who serve professionals are super willing to help if you just admit you don’t know what you’re doing and trust them to take care of you. It also helps if you go in the middle of the afternoon when the professionals are out working instead of buying supplies. They are usually excited to help a humble, idiot customer when the shop is empty.

I got all the parts I needed and headed back to fix the toilet. It all went together pretty well. Everything fit just right. Then, I turned the water to the building back on and adjusted the inlet valve…

It started dripping…

…And water started dripping out of the top of the flush valve…

…So, I decided to flush it…

…And the waterfall happened…

…Water just poured out of the top of the flush valve. EVERY TIME I FLUSHED!!!! UGH!!!!

I Googled. I YouTubed. Nobody on planet earth complained about this ever happening. There were a hundred other places water seemed to leak and how to fix it but nothing about water leaking out of the top of the flush valve!

What do you do when you’ve made it this far, and it doesn’t work right? I couldn’t call a plumber now! It was a matter of principle and honor!!

So, I did what any of you would have done…

…I took apart the other toilet!

I mean, it wasn’t leaking. There had to be a good reason!

The problem part…

When I got the flush valve cover off the other toilet, I put it on the problem toilet and tightened it hand tight. Then, I opened the inlet valve. No drip. That’s a good sign. I flushed. No waterfall. I had to stand back and scratch my head a minute.

I flushed again. Still no leak. And, it seemed to be flushing better than it used to. What in the world?

I took the flush valve cover back off and saw a part number… Huh. It didn’t match the part number on the cover I took off the problem toilet. I wonder…

A few years ago we purchased new flush valve assemblies for the toilets in the other bathroom. Somewhere, we still had the old assemblies laying around. The cover part number on the old assemblies matched the cover that didn’t leak… The other flush valve cover must have been the wrong part for that toilet!

And, guess what. When I got the right part on the right toilet, everything worked right. NO MORE LEAKS! I thought the problem was that I was missing some elusive skill I needed to get the toilet fixed right. It turns out I just needed the right part!

When a toilet is like a sheep

Sometimes life can be like a leaky toilet. We try everything we can, but we just can’t seem to get it right. What if the problem isn’t what we are doing? What if the problem is that we don’t have the right parts to fix the problem?!?

Let’s face it. I don’t know a lot about plumbing. Over the years, I have learned quite a bit about following Jesus, though. Sometimes, I watch believers in Jesus try to fix a problem in their lives by trying harder or making lists of rules that might make Jesus like us. The problem is that trying harder will never fix us. Instead, the part we need to fix the leaking toilets of our lives is grace. The person we need to fix it is Jesus.

In Matthew 9:36, we read about Jesus:
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (ESV).

In John 10:14-15, Jesus told his followers:
I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.

What’s your next step?

Without Jesus, we are missing the part we need to quit leaking. If you feel like you are “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd,” say a prayer telling God you feel that way. Then, decide to follow Jesus by taking a next step toward him. One great next step would be to check out a bible-believing church this Sunday. Another great next step would be to call someone in your life who is following Jesus and let him or her know you want to do the same. It’s great to have a guide to help you on your journey following him. Maybe, you know a sheep who needs a shepherd. If so, your next step could be to offer to help that person trust in the Good Shepherd and follow him.

If you need helping finding grace and following Jesus, I would love to talk with you. I would be happy to pray for you. Send me a note: info@crossroadsfortworth.org.

Jonathan Atwell is Lead Pastor of CrossRoads Church of Fort Worth
CrossRoads meets at 10:15 am on Sunday mornings at
6331 Boulevard 26, Suite 250
in North Richland Hills, TX 76180

Find out what to expect your first Sunday at CrossRoads
Get directions to CrossRoads

Come meet Santa this Sunday!

Come meet Santa this Sunday, December 8th, right after our 10:15 worship service!

Come meet Santa this Sunday, December 8th, right after our 10:15 worship service!

Are you looking for a little family fun to kick off your Christmas season?

Right after our 10:15 worship this Sunday, Santa will be coming to visit CrossRoads Church! Once Santa arrives, we will read The Night Before Christmas together while we enjoy some cookies. Then, Santa will take pictures with your family (or friends you bring with you).

We hope you and your family can make to meet Santa this Sunday! We would also love for you to invite family and friends. The more the merrier as we kick off Christmas together!

Send me a note if you’d like more info: info@crossroadsfortworth.org

Find out what to expect on your first Sunday at CrossRoads

What’s the Significance of Simon Carrying Jesus’s Cross?

The Significance of Carrying Jesus's Cross

Have you ever wondered about the significance of Simon carrying Jesus’s cross to the place of his execution? As you think about Jesus’ and his sacrifice this Good Friday, take a few minutes to listen to these reflections from John Piper:

Listen to: Ask Pastor John: What’s the Significance of Simon Carrying Jesus’s Cross?

Listen to our Pastor’s message about how struggling with Jesus changes your story.

What’s Your Story? Part 3 Video

What’s Your Story? Part 3 Video: Grace: Feeling Loved not Superior

Check out Part 3 of my story on YouTube: https://youtu.be/R4iMdAZu-_Q

What's you story? Part 3: Feeling Loved not Superior

What’s your story? Part 3 of my stoy is about how I came to know one of my favorite words: GRACE. Check out how I came to know my hope is in what Jesus has done for me rather than what I can do for God.

What challenges have you faced in your story? At CrossRoads, one of our greatest joys is offering hope to people facing their stories’ biggest challenges.

Share your story in the comments, via email or with your own video!

What’s Your Story? Part 2 Video

What’s Your Story? Part 2 Video: Junior High, Bullies & Jesus

Check out Part 2 of my story on YouTube: https://youtu.be/WqW7tgKuGeg

Be part of the premiere on YouTube Sunday, March 24th, at 8:30 pm CDT.

What's your story? Part 2: Junior High, Bullies & Jesus

What’s your story? Part 2 of my story begins in Junior High. As loved and accepted as I felt in my early years, everything changed somewhere between 6th and 8th grade. I guess that’s probably the case for most of us.

What challenges have you faced in your story? At CrossRoads, one of our greatest joys is offering hope to people facing their stories’ biggest challenges.

Share your story in the comments, via email or with your own video!

What’s your story? Part 3

What's your story?
Part 3: Grace

Grace

I always felt like something was wrong…

What’s your story? I always felt like something was wrong with church. I thought, maybe, it was the architecture or the music. It took me until I was almost 30 years old to realize it was much more fundamental than that.

How can I make God happy?

In the midst of all the love I had been shown and the Jesus I had come to know, I hadn’t really wrapped my head around what God did for us. I’m not sure what I had been taught, but what I had heard was a familiar message: God loves you, but he loves you a whole lot more when you obey him better. Sometime after I finished my master’s degree at seminary, I started putting the pieces together. I knew Jesus had received the punishment for the sins of everyone who would trust in him, but I had always heard Christians talk like after you trust in him, you better not mess it up. Wait! If I couldn’t earn my salvation because I was sinful, how can I make him happy now? I’m still not getting it right!

So, what has God really done for us? What little bit of good can I do to make God like me when I fall so short? And, if God loves me even when I mess up, who am I to judge others when they do?

I can’t feel superior anymore…

So, I guess I can’t feel superior anymore. But, what I can feel is loved because Jesus received all the punishment for all the sin of everyone who believes. When God looks at me, he doesn’t see my sin, he sees Jesus’ righteousness. And, the work was completed 2000 years ago when Jesus told us from the cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30), so I am no less forgiven for the sin I will commit tomorrow than the sin I committed before I trusted in Christ. All the wrath of God was poured out for that sin on the day Jesus died, and it will never be held against me. Ever. And God freely gave me that forgiveness because there was nothing I could ever do to earn it. Just because decided to.

That’s what grace is. That’s what church used to be missing for me. Now, every time I read the Bible, I read about a God who loves people so much he offers them forgiveness. He restores them. This is the message I can’t wait to tell: If you trust in Jesus’ death and resurrection, you will be forgiven and declared righteous. You will have a place in his resurrection. And, your sin will never be held against you. You will have a place in God’s family. You will come to know God as your Heavenly Father by knowing Jesus through the words of the Bible. This grace is worth sharing.

To the ends of the earth… coming soon.

What about your story?

How has grace shaped your story?

Have you found grace, or are you still trying to make God like you?

How has grace changed the way you think about the way God thinks of you and the way you think of others?

How to tell your story

How to tell your story

I thought it would be a good idea to take a post here in the middle of my story to help you think about how to tell your story.

Where to begin your story

You saw in my first “What’s your story?” post I started my story at the beginning. When in doubt, that’s a good place to start — at least that’s what Maria Von Trapp taught us, right? I started with the moment in mind when I trusted in Christ since that’s the heart of the first chapter of my story. It’s funny, though, because that’s not really the heart of my story. 35 years later, God has worked in huge ways since then to bring me to where I am today.

Let tension build

The second chapter of my story started with Junior High. That was where things got complicated for me. I learned about hurt, sin and brokenness. While eternity hangs on the moment we trusted in Jesus, most of us haven’t lived happily ever after since that day. Sometimes, Christians, we oversimplify our stories making it sound like it’s been smooth sailing since trusting in Christ. Like we haven’t struggled with addictions or sin or relationships or questions. That’s one of the things on the long list of frustrations most people have with us. We act like life’s been hunky-dory since salvation. It’s really been one mess after another. The difference for us, believers, is that we know the God who loves us has it all under control. When we find ourselves in the pit, he picks us up (Psalm 40 — the psalmist and Bono).

Share hope

If you’ve read my previous posts, you’ve seen hope. In every challenge I’ve faced, God has provided a person or an insight to move me to the next place in my journey. That’s what hope is about: being able to move forward knowing this is not the end. In Christ, we always know there will be a next step. We have a place in God’s plan, and Jesus is our constant companion on this journey. We also know our destination. One day the story of our redemption that began at the cross and manifest itself in our faith will conclude with our arrival in the full expression of God’s kingdom. Forever. That, my friends, is what hope looks like.

Leave some questions unanswered

We know the story is not buttoned up yet. We all still have questions about what God is up to. It can be a struggle to understand how God can allow all the broken things in our world. There are moments when eternity seems so far away. When we give simple answers to the hard questions, our childlike trust in our Heavenly Father can be perceived as pollyannaish naivete. Life is just hard sometimes. While we know we can trust our God to care for us, we don’t know why he does all the things he does. We can be honest about that. People appreciate it when we acknowledge that our world is broken, and that breaks us sometimes.

But, please, tell your story

Over the next couple posts I will bring my story up to today. I will move from the struggles of a child and teenager to the challenges of adulthood. It should help you understand your pastor’s heart and motivations and show you the depths of my love for God and how my heart longs to share that love with you.

I believe God has done every bit as great a work in your life as he has in mine. You have a great story to tell about finding hope in Christ through all of life’s challenges. And, people need to hear your story. Nope, your story won’t save anyone. Only Jesus’ story does that. But, your story is the 21st Century confession that Jesus’ story still works. So, please tell your story.

Because your story matters

And, if your story hasn’t found the hope of Christ yet, it still matters because you matter. As Matt Whitman pointed out a couple weeks ago, the infinite God of the universe chose to make you part of this, so you count. Keep looking. God is there, and he has constructed the world in such a way that we can find him. He has given us the Bible to tell us about how we can know him. He sent his Son to be the way to him. And, he promises that when you seek him, you will find him when you seek him with all your heart. That’s the challenge you are going to run into.

The God of the universe doesn’t work in terms of “kind of.” He created all the universe to display all his glory. He sent his only Son to give all his life to show us he completely loves us. So, he demands all of your heart and my heart. That’s a lot to ask, but he will not disappoint.

If you have questions about telling your story or you want to share your story, send me a note: info@crossroadsfortworth.org. I would like to hear from you.