The Way to Wait

waiting, Jesus, God,Patience, Self-Control, Glory, Steadfast

I hate to wait. I hate waiting in lines, I hate waiting for information, I hate waiting in traffic. I like to do things on my own time and when things don’t happen the way I think they should (or how I want them to), I get frustrated. Over the years, I have gotten better at waiting but there are still times when I walk into the post office or bank, look around, and walk straight back out because of the incredibly long line.

The world tends to encourage us to not practice waiting. We are obsessed developing ways to not have to wait. We have become dangerously accustomed to having our food, information, and entertainment whenever and however we want it.  Over time, we have gotten worse at waiting. And, unfortunately, we think it’s a good thing.  We’ve adapted to our impatience and we think that it is doing more. We can get more done if we get to wait less. But we achieve so much more when we learn to wait.

Jesus has so much in store for the process of waiting. It is a hard thing to do, especially when we are called to have patience in suffering but we must know that God has a purpose for our waiting and gives us the tools to help us do it.

All throughout the Bible God tells us that we must learn patience, steadfastness, and self-control. In a world where we can have anything we want and when we want it, it is extremely difficult to apply these virtues to our lives.

I want to point out that the act of waiting, or lack thereof, has the ability to reveal to us things about God and our spiritual well-being. In waiting, the depths of our hearts may be searched and a multitude of truths about ourselves revealed. When we refuse to grow in patience and self-control and refuse to wait, we are really exhibiting our lack of trust in God. Everything seems better when we take things into our own hands. It also reveals our pride, in that we refuse to humble ourselves to God’s plans.

However, when we do wait and exercise patience and self-control, we are able to have God revealed to us.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.”  
Romans 8:18-19
“Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.”
James 5:11

Waiting is excruciatingly painful but it is not meaningless. What makes waiting worthwhile is what we are waiting for. All of life is waiting and when we do not see the end of our wait or a worthwhile end, then our suffering seems to be in vain. But there is a meaning in our waiting and we find it in what we are desperately waiting for.

When I stand in line at the bank, post-office, or grocery store, I find it unbearable to wait unless there is something that I am willing to wait for. If I stand in line not knowing why, I have no reason to remain there. But if I know what I am waiting for, what I am hoping for, then the wait is worthwhile.

The problem is that most of us do not know what we are waiting for. Sure, there’s that promotion coming up, a vacation, retirement. But then what?

The Bible encourages us that there is much more to wait for:  We are to wait on the Lord. Jesus is what is worthwhile in our waiting. Even more so, God is with us in the wait. He is our strength in weakness, patience in suffering, and light in the darkness. Waiting is not a time of doing nothing. It is a time of preparation. It is a developing of trust in God and deepening of love and relationship. What do the things we are waiting on reveal about our hearts? Are we waiting for things that will leave us unsatisfied? Are we impatiently refusing to seek God in every situation because our pride tells us that we know better? Or do we see the glory awaiting us and the satisfaction we can only find in Christ? 

 “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage;  wait for the Lord!”  
Psalm 27:14


The Key To Being Needy

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We live in an “I want” society. The greatest songs, movies, and books all contain characters that are trying to achieve something, whether they get it or not. We live in a world where we encourage others to seek their hearts desires, to get their piece of the sky, to win and obtain what they truly “deserve.”

When I was younger my sister and I had a game we would play when watching television. Whenever our show would go on commercial break we would intensely wait for what great toy would be advertised. The first of the two of us who could yell, “Mine!”  the fastest would “get” that toy. Of course, we would never actually get whatever we claimed. The appeal of it was the wanting. It was exciting to see if we would want the same things and even more exciting when one of us got a claim on what we wanted. It didn’t really matter that I never got what I wanted. There was always something else that I wanted more. Commercial after commercial, my sister and I would fight to claim toys and we always wanted the next one even more than the last. I’ve come to realize that I and many other people live their entire lives this way. We are always in want.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want”

-Psalm 23:1

Psalm 23 is very popular passage but the second part of verse 1 has always confused and honestly made me feel a little uncomfortable. What exactly does “I shall not want” mean?  Does it mean that I shouldn’t have any desires? Any goals? Any aspirations? That’s obviously not true. God doesn’t expect us to have meaningless, purposeless lives. He wants us to pursue fulfilling and completely satisfying lives. Psalm 23 simply expresses what truly brings that satisfaction.

I have lived a lot of my life in want. And when I had achieved that want, I simply move on to the next thing that my heart had been longing for. We all think that achieving the things we want will satisfy us. That the better car, house, job, or boyfriend/girlfriend will finally make us happy. But we will soon find that they just make the holes we are trying to fill bigger. All it does is make us want more.

The Bible tells us that God is the true way to satisfaction. He is able to fill our every need and desire. But if Jesus is the way to a meaningful and purposeful life, why are we still desperately seeking satisfaction elsewhere? It is pretty difficult to be fulfilled by God if we are constanly filling ourselves with other things. We get stuck in a cycle of achieving what we think we want and being disappointed when it leaves us empty again, so we move on to the next thing. And the cycle continues… Unfortunately for many, it never ends.

But God wants to satisfy us and to never have us be empty again. The funny part is that to be filled and satisfied with God, we must become empty. We must be needy in order to receive. We must be broken in order to be restored and we must die to ourselves and the world to truly have life. God can provide everything in Jesus Christ. Psalm 23 does not mean that we are not to have any desires, it means that every desire has already been filled by the goodness of God.

Psalm 23

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord


The Two Ways to Weigh Down your Soul

Burden, Heavy, Jesus, Cross, Rest, Yoke

Life presents us with many heavy burdens. Some experience immense pain and suffering in this life, some experience momentary strife.  We all have felt or will feel heaviness at some point. That feeling when life is just too much and it weighs you down.

God does not shy away from telling us the reality of this world. We will face tribulation. Life gets difficult.  He never tells us that our lives in this world will be easy or trouble-free. He warns us of its difficulty. But he also tells us of a solution. He offers a promise in Jesus.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

In Jesus, we find the only way to know God and receive rest from our heavy burdens. But the solution Jesus offers as a way to be burden free seems counteractive. To receive rest we are to take on the yoke of Christ. A yoke is a piece of wood placed on two animals that were used to plow or pull a heavy object. Jesus is telling us that in order to be burden free we are to take on another burden, his.  It seems strange that in order to be free from something Jesus wants us to carry another burden. But the key is in his next statement in Matt. 11:30- “For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Some of the burdens we face in life are out of our control. Some are the kind we place on ourselves. Whatever the case, Jesus offers a new way to bear the heaviness of life. He tells us to take his yoke upon ourselves. His yoke is light because he has taken on the ultimate burden. In reality, we are taking on a yoke that he is solely carrying. He has taken on the heaviness of life. He has taken on sin, shame, pain, and suffering for our sake. We are anchored down by the cross. Hebrews tells us that the hope and promise of God is an anchor for our soul. It weighs us down in a way that the world does not. It sets us free in a beautiful paradox. Jesus sets us free and relieves our burden by placing on us a new one that he has already taken. He replaces heavy burden with heavy hope. We are able to receive rest, an easy yoke, and a light burden when we are able to receive the gospel of Jesus Christ and allow it to anchor our souls.

“We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”    Hebrews 6:19-20




The Nightmare Before Christmas


nightmare before Christmas, Disney, Christmas.s, Jesus, Darkness, Light


It may not be the most conventional Christmas movie but The Nightmare Before Christmas is one of my favorites that helps me get into the Christmas spirit. The story is about a skeleton man named Jack who lives in a town where it is Halloween all the time. The townspeople are full of iconic monsters and creepy creatures that love everything scary and dark. Jack is admired and loved by all for his ability to be scary. They crown him the pumpkin king every year on Halloween and he basically is the town celebrity.

Jack has everything, yet something is missing. All that he has does not satisfy. After all the Halloween celebrations are through, he sings a song called Jack’s Lament where he admits the empty feeling he has despite his seemingly perfect life.


“But who here would ever understand that the Pumpkin King with the skeleton grin would tire of his crown, if they only understood he’d give it all up if he only could. Oh, there’s an empty place in my bones that calls out for something unknown, the fame and praise come year after year does nothing for these empty tears” 
-Jack’s Lament

He eventually stumbles upon these doorways in the woods that lead to different towns focused on a certain holiday. He enters the entrance into Christmas Town where it is Christmas all the time. When he discovers Christmas he finally feels his emptiness being filled. He is changed and wants to share the good news of Christmas with everyone. But he doesn’t quite understand it. When he goes back home he isn’t able to bring the same experience to his friends. He becomes obsessed with trying to replicate Christmas. He studies everything about the holiday, even comically running experiments on ornaments and toys. He almost ruins all of Christmas in the process because of his obsession and frustration with failure.

His experience changes his life and motivates him to do whatever it takes to have and share Christmas. What makes Christmas so impactful for him?

“The sights, the sounds they’re everywhere and all around. I‘ve never felt so good before this empty place inside of me is filling up. I simply cannot get enough. I want it, oh, I want it Oh, I want it for my own. I’ve got to know, I’ve got to know. What is this place that I have found? What is this?”
 What is This

Even as a Christian I sometimes struggle to keep up with the desire to celebrate Christmas. Even when it is focused on what it really should be about (Jesus), I find myself dreading the season.

Maybe you’re like me and get overwhelmed or annoyed by the commercialism and extra burdens that come around this time of year. Maybe it is a hard time for you and you can’t  seem to find much celebrate about. Or maybe you adore Christmas; the lights, food, and the warm and loving family moments. Either way, Christmas will never impact you in the way it should unless you recognize something.

Christmas affected Jack the way it did because of the nightmare that he experienced beforehand. All Jack knew was darkness and it was that darkness that made him realize the wonder of light and love. He gives everything to have it but he was missing what made Christmas what it is (the movie never takes us to this point): Jesus. Christmas is about the light (Jesus) coming into the world and overcoming darkness.

Some time ago I realized why the miracle of Christmas sometimes didn’t touch my heart in the way it should have. It wasn’t because I didn’t know Jesus or that I wasn’t making him the “reason for the season.” It was because I didn’t fully grasp, experience, or reflect on the darkness that was there before he came. The darkness that exists before we know him, before we are saved by his redeeming love and grace. If we don’t see the nightmare before Christmas, we can’t experience its fullness and power. If we don’t see that that Jesus is the light that has come to save us from darkness, then Christmas becomes empty and every feeble attempt to celebrate with lights, decorations, gifts, and loved ones eventually becomes meaningless.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it… The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.”         -John 1:1-5; 1:9

Jack never discovers what makes Christmas so special but he knows that there is something real that goes deeper than all of the things we think makeup Christmas.

“I’ve read these Christmas books so many times. I know the stories and I know the rhymes. I know the Christmas carols all by heart. My skull’s so full, it’s tearing me apart. As often as I’ve read them, something’s wrong. So hard to put my bony finger on. Or perhaps it’s really not as deep as I’ve been led to think. Am I trying much too hard? Of course! I’ve been too close to see. The answer’s right in front of me. Right in front of me:
It’s simple really, very clear
              Like music drifting in the air
                     Invisible, but everywhere
                                    Just because I cannot see it
Doesn’t mean I can’t believe it”
                                                                                              -Jack’s Obsession

Why We Pretend Everything is Okay

Masquerade, honesty, truth, Jesus


Christians are some of the happiest people I know (well, most that I have encountered). They are always there to lend a helping hand and a shoulder to cry on. They sing the most heartfelt/ warming songs in their services and have the most welcoming smiles. On the surface, they’re seemingly perfect. Being a Christian myself, I have done my best to fit in with the Christian persona. But a lot of the time, despite all of the joyful qualities, I find that Christians are some of the hardest people to relate to.

I’ve known for a long time what people expected Christians to be like. It is essential Christian character to always have your life together. My emotions, actions, speech, and thoughts all have to be in check. Real, healthy Christians are always happy, have the right answers and are extremely nice. But sometimes I’m not happy and don’t have the right answers. Sometimes I’m not the nicest person (more times than I’m actually willing to admit). This always left me frustrated and I constantly felt like I was a failure. It was impossible for me to be perfect and I had a hard time keeping up with the expectation that I was supposed to be.

Whether you’ve experienced this Christian paradigm or not, we have all felt the pressure to act a part based on what the people around us deem as acceptable. We have a hard time being honest with ourselves and others about how we really feel and what we really think. The truth is that we struggle with fitting into the mold of perfection; Being the perfect Christian or student or parent, etc. When we admit that everything is actually not perfect, we admit to weakness. Nobody likes to admit they are weak or inadequate. So, we hide the truth. We put on masks to hide what’s really happening and pretend that we have everything together.

We often fail to realize or remember that God knows the truth. No matter how hard we try to hide it. The only thing hiding does is hinder us from what can truly help us.The more we try to hide our shame, fear, and inadequacies the more we hold onto them; The more they fester within us.

In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve tried to hide their sin from God by covering themselves with fig leaves (Genesis 3:7). They sew together clothing from easily perishable material in a feeble and slightly humorous attempt to cover the state they were in. It may seem laughable but we ourselves do this all of the time. We hide everything behind false smiles, good deeds, and worldly success. But our attempts to hide are as ridiculous as Adam and Eve’s.

The New Testament tells us a story of Jesus meeting a Samaritan woman alone at a well. In their discussion, he offers her living water that will make her never thirst again; eternal life (John 4:13-15). She’s all game but doesn’t fully get it until Jesus reveals that this woman was an adulteress, having many husbands. Then, he reveals that he’s the Messiah and in her excitement, she tells the town about Jesus. The interesting part of this episode is that she’s excited about all of her dirty laundry being exposed by God. This is a woman who has been rejected by society. She goes to collect water alone instead of going with a group of women which was traditionally done. She was likely shamed and lonely. God brought all of her sin, shame, and pain out in the open and it freed her. Not because she simply had someone to confide in but because of who he was and what he could do with her exposed sin. He was the Messiah, the Savior of the world. Bringing out all that she was bottling up inside merely gave the opportunity for him to take care of it for her. He could save her (John 4:39-42)

In the Garden of Eden, after God had confronted them and revealed the consequences of their disobedience, he replaces their fig leaf covering with garments of skins. He clothes them with garments of (animal) flesh that will cover their nakedness more efficiently than what they had come up with. (Genesis 3:21)

Jesus covers our sin in a similar fashion. We desperately try to hide and take care of everything ourselves. We put on masks to make everyone think we’re ok. We attempt to lie to God and put on a show. But when all of our sin and shame and brokenness is laid out before him, when we take off our masks and allow him to take hold of all that we have been hiding (but that he’s seen all along), he covers us. God took animal skins, sacrificed flesh to replace Adam and Eve’s fig leaves and properly cover them. Jesus sacrificed himself and gave his own flesh and blood to replace our masks and properly and permanently cover our sins.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  –Matthew 11:28-30

Nothing Gold Can Stay


You may be familiar with popular sayings like, “There’s a light at the end of every tunnel,” or “There’s always a rainbow after the rain.”  There’s no wonder that people like them; they’re very inspirational during times of difficulty. They bring a sense of hope. Dark and stormy season won’t last forever. The good times are coming. Although there is an important truth enclosed in these inspirational quotes, they lack some major insights. Difficult times always come back around again. There may be an end to your current troubles but there’s always some other issue just around the corner. These sayings are so popular because we are constantly going through difficult seasons and it’s inevitable that when you’ve gotten through one thing, you’ll go through another.

It may sound depressing but it’s true. Not just in our individual lives but throughout the history of mankind. When one war ends, another begins. A nation is well fed, then goes through famine. There is peace and then upset. There is power and there is oppression.  Throughout history, mankind has experienced rise and fall. We build nations and empires that don’t last forever.

Why is this? Why is it that empires fall and depression creeps back when you thought it had gone? Why do we persevere through troubles just to have others hurt us again? Recently I heard the answer to these questions through a poem by Robert Frost called Nothing Gold Can Stay. The poet translates some very biblical truths and gives insight into the dilemma of our difficult lives.

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Frost writes about how at dawn nature is gold and perfect but it cannot stay that way. This change it makes is not a good one. Eden sinks to grief. I think that his reference to the Garden of Eden is very insightful because it links to the answers to our problems.

Nothing gold in this world can truly stay because of the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. When God created the universe, including the first humans, he created them perfectly. Everything was good. There was no darkness or rain. It was just God enjoying his creation and vice versa. But when sin came into the world (through man), everything fell apart. Now, all that God intended for creation is tainted. Our relationships with God, each other, and all of creation to the very core of our being. Yet, we see glimpses of that initial creation in us and around us every now and then. We still reflect our creator but only in broken pieces. The first green that was gold is the hardest hue to hold. It doesn’t last. And God grieves over this. But we have the inability to get back to the good times before sin.

That is why Jesus came, was sacrificed, and resurrected. Because he was perfect; everything is restored in him and he took on all sin and defeated it. He is the golden way. When our faith is in him we are being restored even though we lack perfection.

When you’re going through a difficult season or the world is crumbling around you, know that there is hope at the end of them. But also know that storms and darkness will come again. The only way that you can find a golden path through them, a path through the hardships, is through Jesus. He is not at the end of the tunnel or after the rain, he is there with you in the darkness and through the storm.

 “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”  –John 16:33



Battling Loneliness



There are two types of people who struggle with loneliness: those who can’t escape it and those who are desperately seeking it. There are some people who are stuck in their loneliness. Being around others causes feelings of depression and despair. Some hate being around people. It causes anxiety, stress, and frustration. Whether you want it or you’re trying to escape it, loneliness is never a good thing. No matter what side you’re on in the loneliness struggle you must know that God never intended for us to be alone. So, why does the struggle exist? The battle we have with loneliness has a lot to do with selfishness. The core of it is sin.

Sin is “missing the mark” of what God intended for creation. If God designed us to be relational and in community then sin ruins that. It alienates us from God and each other. That is why the root of loneliness is sin.

When we are in despair because we are lonely we are focused on ourselves alone. When we isolate ourselves from people we are also solely focusing on ourselves. Selfishness gets us stuck in our loneliness or causes us to want to be alone.

Loneliness was never God’s desire for us. We were created by a God who was and always is in community with himself as the social Trinity; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. When God created us in his image, he created us to be social and relational people. Even when he calls us to be away from each other, it is only for a time to be alone with him.

Loneliness is a battle. We have to fight the disconnection we feel or the desire to be away from people. How is the battle with Loneliness won? We must learn how to see past ourselves and look to Christ.

When Jesus was on earth, he understood and experienced every human struggle that we go through. But he ultimately felt the weight of the alienation we suffer from sin. When he was crucified he became sin for the sake of the world and cried out, “My God, My God! Why have you forsaken me?” At that moment, Jesus was alienated from God. Rejected by his people and separated from the Father, he was alone. In doing so he took on our loneliness and when he was raised to life every consequence of sin was defeated. Through Jesus, we can have reconciliation with God and others. Jesus restores and enables relationship and community to the way God intended it to be.

In order to win the battle with loneliness, we need to be humbled before God. Not focusing on ourselves and our desires but on him. Look to Jesus, for he comforts us in our misery and reminds us that we are destined for community and relationship. When we find ourselves focused on him we think less about ourselves and more on others. Other people who also battle with loneliness. Christ-like humility breaks the bonds of loneliness and leads us on a path of selflessness.

“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.  Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,  not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others”  –Philippians 2:1-4


Obedience Training

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Do you ever have a hard time staying focused on or being obedient to God’s calling? We know that God desires for us to be obedient to his will and calling. That calling is sometimes hard to figure out. Sometimes it’s difficult to carry out. What exactly does God want from us? How do we remain steadfast and focused on what God has called us to?

The Calling

We all have a calling. A specific purpose to carry out in our lives. We are disciples; Students and followers of Christ. Our call is to grow as disciples by the power of the Holy Spirit. God also calls his disciples to make other disciples. We are to share the good news of Jesus Christ and teach them all of his commands. Our purpose is to show others what their purpose is. This may look different according to the gifts, talents, and personalities God has granted us. However diversely we may carry out this calling, it is the same for all Christians. 

“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”           Matthew 28:18-20 

Keeping Focus

How do we remain focused on obeying God? It’s easy to get distracted from what he has called us to. The first step is knowing what our calling is and that we are to obey that. The second step is to remain focused on that calling. There are so many different things that can distract us today. We are bombarded with messages that tell us what we should be doing and how we should do it. How are we to remain focused on what God is saying amidst the distracting voices around us? The key is to focus on Jesus.

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him,  rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” Colossians 2:6-8

When I was first training my dog, Talia, I had a hard time getting her to focus. When I would try to teach her commands she was easily distracted by everything around her. Even when she did learn some commands, she never obeyed them consistently. As soon as something else caught her attention, she was gone. I soon learned that there was one command that would help her consistently obey all the things I wanted to teach her. This command was, “Look at me.” I trained her to keep her eyes focused on me for periods of time. Soon she was able to do the commands I taught her with a new ability to focus. Not only did she have to obey what I said but she had to “look at me” the whole time that she obeyed. Whether it was to sit, wait, stay, or heel her eyes had to remain on me. Her obedience became consistent because she was trained to focus on me. The more she learned to look to me the easier it became to avoid distraction and obey.

When we find it hard to remain steadfast and obedient to God’s commands and call, we must learn how to focus on Christ.

Jesus taught this to the disciples often. They were always losing sight of the big picture and Jesus was constantly having to remind them. When they wanted to know who would be the greatest of them all he had to remind them what the kingdom of God was all about. He rebuked them when they wanted to punish a Samaritan village by raining consuming fire on them, when they tried to keep people from bringing their children to him, and when they tried to stop him from going to Jerusalem for his crucifixion. Jesus had to train them to obey and follow the mission and calling of God. 

Peter walked on water because Jesus called him out of the boat. He obeyed but soon became distracted. After taking his eyes off of Jesus, he began to sink. When he succumbed to the raging storm and waves around him he not only lost sight of what he was supposed to be doing but who he was doing it for. 

The only way we are able to obey God’s calling and remain steadfast is to focus on Jesus Christ. God is the one who reveals to us our purpose and how to obey it. He is the one who grants us the strength and the ability to carry it out. When we focus on Jesus we can overcome distraction and find the ability to carry out everything he has called us to obey.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  looking 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.”  Hebrews 12:1-2


Hakuna Matata

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”   Philippians 3:12-14

Our pasts have the ability to hold us back from what God wants to do in us and through us. Maybe some of us feel discouraged because of past insecurities or are scarred by a past event that is a struggle to move on from. Perhaps we feel dragged down by sin or the shame of something we have done. Whatever it is, we all have a past. Something that we desperately want to erase, overcome, or even run from. At least we think we can run. We think we can rid ourselves of past hurts or scars. Overcome them on our own strength. But we can’t. Somehow our pasts continually come back to haunt us.

For the last post in my Disney series, I decided to delve into an all-time favorite; The Lion King. In Walt Disney’s The Lion King, we see a recurring discussion on the topic of the past. The main character’s (Simba) prominent internal conflict is coping with the death of his father Mufasa and the guilt that haunts him over it. In the movie, young Simba has a close and loving relationship with his father, the king. Mufasa has a brother named Scar who was next in succession to become king until Simba comes along. Out of envy and evil ambition, Scar plots Simba and Mufasa’s murder so that he may become king. He sets them up to be caught in a stampede so that they will be trampled to death (I know. How is this a kids’ movie, right?). Mufasa is killed in the process but is able to rescue Simba. When Scar confronts him, he convinces Simba that his Father’s death is his fault and tells him to run away and never come back. Simba runs away into the desert to escape the shame and pain of the past. He almost dies from the heat when he is taken in by the comedic duo, Timon and Pumba. When asked where he is from, he tells them it doesn’t matter because he cannot go back. The two give the young lion some interesting advice.

“You’re an outcast, that’s great!  So are we.”

Right off the bat, the three have something in common. Hearing about Simba’s desire to change his past, Timon shares his intriguing philosophy: Hakuna Matata. You’ve got to put your past behind you. Bad things happen and the solution is to forget about it. “When the world turns its back on you, you turn your back on the world.” Hakuna Matata means no worries. It’s a philosophy of not caring in order to block out the past or pain. It’s escapism really.

Flash forward and we see that Simba has grown up under the care of Timon and Pumba living out the “Hakuna Matata” lifestyle. When an old friend, Nala, suddenly appears and tells him that his home has been ravaged by his uncle and that he has to go back to stop him, Simba has to deal with a daunting truth: you cannot run from your past. Conflicted, Simba goes out to find solace. In frustration, he finally expresses his anger at his father for leaving him and his guilt of thinking that he caused his death. Then, he is met by an old baboon named Rafiki who was a friend of his father. Rafiki is seemingly crazy but gives him sage advice: The past can hurt but you can either run from it or learn from it. In that moment, Simba is finally able to confront his past. Rafiki tells him that his father never left him and that he lives in him. Simba, now reconciled with his past, is able to move forward and claim his right as king.

There are two conflicting philosophies in the movie about dealing with the past: Timon’s and Rafiki’s. Timon says to forget about it, which Simba later finds is impossible. He is having an identity crisis in a serious and comical way. He has trouble figuring out who he is because of how his past defines him. He runs away to live with a meerkat and warthog, eating nothing but bugs. Not only is he not taking his rightful place on the throne but he’s not even acting like a lion, who he was born to be. We often let our pasts define us. It wasn’t until someone (Rafiki) told Simba who he was that he was finally able to move on with his life. He became reconciled with his father, whom he discovered had never really left him. Rafiki tells him that he knows who he is. He’s  “Mufasa’s boy.”

Simba’s true identity and calling were found in his father. The only way that he could move on from allowing his past to define him and on to who he was truly created to be was to reconcile his relationship and find his identity in his father, the king.

We, in so many ways, are like Simba. We run from our pasts and let what we have done or the things that have been done to us define who we are. But our pasts do not define us if we are in Christ. We are told who we are. It is the God who sacrificed himself on behalf of our sins, Jesus Christ. He tells us that we are made new. We are sons and daughters of the king. We can be found in him and he in us. Being reconciled, the past is behind us and we can finally move on to who we are called to be.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 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.”   2 Corinthians 5:17-19


The Fairest of Them All


Today’s society is increasingly individualistic. We must think of ourselves first in order to survive or succeed. We must be independent and self-sufficient. But the Bible constantly reminds us of our call to community, often referring to Christ’s followers as the body of Christ and the fellowship of believers. We were created for community. A community founded on Christ-likeness. A community that reflects the servanthood, humility, and love of Jesus.

The character Snow White in the movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs by Walt Disney gives us a great example of what it means to live out Christ-likeness. Snow White is forced to dress in rags and work as a maid in her own castle by her wicked stepmother, the queen. The queen is obsessed with being the fairest in the land and consults her magic mirror to guarantee that her title remains. One day, the mirror announces that Snow White, despite her ragged clothing and lowly position, has exceeded the fairness of her stepmother. In order to reclaim her title, the queen sends a huntsman to take Snow White into the woods and kill her. The Huntsman is hesitant but obeys her command in order to avoid the consequences of not carrying out the mission. He takes her into the woods but right as he is about to cut out her heart, he finds himself not being able to carry out her murder. He is overtaken by her gentleness and kindness and releases her. Snow White escapes into the woods until she happens upon a little cottage belonging to seven little dwarfs.

When she meets the quirky dwarfs she is immediately kind to them. She is even kind to Grumpy who is not very fond of her or anyone for that matter. As they contemplate whether they will allow her to stay or not she pleads with them and offers her services.

Snow White gives a prime example of humility, meekness, and servanthood.

These characteristics are foreign to our popular culture. As a princess, she should be entitled to everything. But we forget that throughout the movie. Why? Because she never acts like one. When you view her in light of her birthright, your perspective begins to change. Snow White willingly cooks and cleans for the imperfect dwarfs. She genuinely loves them and serves them. She never tries to get what she deserves. She is meek and mild. She is loving and kind. She lives out the character of Christ. As Christians, this is what we are commanded to imitate.

Philippians 2:3-8

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests but also to the interests of others.  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,  but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
We are encouraged to live individualistic and selfish lives. We are entitled and demand all that we think we deserve. The idea that we are to humble ourselves before one another, to sacrifice and think of the well-being of others before our own is a foreign and foolish concept. When we watch Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs we might ask ourselves, “What kind of princess submits to those she potentially has power over and serves those who should rightfully be serving her? What kind of princess loves the unlovable, thinking of them as more significant than herself?”

When we look at the gospel, the same thought must cross our minds. What kind of God did not seek to be like God but emptied himself to become a man? To become a servant, to die for those he loved. Jesus Christ came to show us what true love and divine humility look like. It looks like him and is achieved through him.

Snow White gives us a glimpse of the Christ-likeness we are to pursue. In the end, the princess’ love changes hearts and lives. The huntsman risks his life to spare her, the prince searches high and low to find her, and the dwarfs fight tooth and nail to save her from the queen. When Snow White is put under the sleeping death curse all come to mourn. They loved her and humbled themselves before her. Even Grumpy has a heart change and mourns the loss of the beloved princess. When she is awakened by the prince all rejoice and she is carried off to her kingdom.

When we are met with the love of Christ through the gospel it changes us. We are compelled to embrace Christ and become more like him. We are moved by the one who is truly the fairest of them all to live our lives with the same humility, servanthood, and love for others.