Why should I repent of my unbelief?

Why should I repent of my unbelief?

When speaking about spiritual issues, one word that tends to get a reaction is the word "repent." I don't have any hard evidence to back this up, but my gut feeling is that when most people hear that word, they tend to feel somewhat negative toward it. It's a word that demands that a change be made. To repent may involve regret and remorse, and if it's genuine, will also involve a change of direction.

The Lord invites us to be people who repent. We're encouraged to be people who practice repentance as a regular feature of our growing faith in Jesus Christ. When we first became aware of our need for His gift of salvation, we repented of our unbelief, stopped embracing the sin we once idolized, and began trusting in Him. As our relationship with Him continues, we're invited to continue to practice repentance every time we become conscious of sin or unbelief in our lives. It isn't dreadful to repent, it's joyful because we know our Lord loves us and is eager to welcome us into His presence. He doesn't hate us when we make mistakes. He loves us and invites us to return to Him so we can experience His cleansing.

Luke 16:19-31 illustrates our need to repent of our unbelief, and I'd like to point out four specific reasons why we should do so.

God is Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent

God is Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent

A personality trait that seems to run like a thread through the lives of many people I admire is the trait of being a "high capacity" person. I'm often impressed by people who seem skilled at juggling multiple things without becoming excessively bogged down or easily discouraged. Some of my favorite historical figures were high capacity leaders. Some of the people I allow to influence me presently are high capacity leaders. I'm trying to learn from them and implement some of their attitudes, approaches, and strategies.

But no matter how "high capacity" someone might be, we need to realize that we all have our limits. Even if we don't require a lot of sleep, we still require some sleep. Even if we know many things, we don't know everything (and let's be honest... some of the most irritating people on this earth are those who think they know everything.) The strongest, wisest, and most gifted people on this earth can only do so much.

That being the case, let's consider God's capacity for just a moment. He's not only "high capacity", He's "infinite capacity." He never sleeps or slumbers. He is perfect in all His abilities. There isn't a single thing that He doesn't know, and there is no one more powerful than Him. And unlike humans who can only be in one place at one time, He is everywhere at the same time. This is amazing, and just like the Psalmist said in Psalm 113, "Who is like the Lord our God?" The answer, very simply, is no one.

God the Holy Spirit

God the Holy Spirit

Not long ago, I had the privilege to hear a recording of a speaker who had a solid understanding of family dynamics. She was speaking about a family that had two children. One of the children had special needs that required a considerable amount of work and attention. The other child didn't have those same needs and unfortunately, he started to feel starved for attention, unloved, and forgotten while his parents provided care for his sister. Thankfully, this issue was brought to his parents' attention and they began taking steps to correct it in a healthy way.

Ironically, when it comes to the Trinity, those who believe in God can sometimes make a similar mistake to what this family was making. We learn about and focus on both God the Father and God the Son, but sometimes we can be guilty of forgetting about God the Holy Spirit all together. Some even go so far as to treat Him as if He isn't God or doesn't possess personhood and the intellect, emotions, and will that come with it.

But let's not make that mistake. As we look at what the Scriptures tell us, we can learn amazing things about who the Holy Spirit is, what He's doing for us, and how He's seeking to guide the direction our lives take. He makes a point to unite us as the family of God, so let's not make the error of forgetting Him or His union with the Father and the Son.

How to handle your finances while you're a student...

How to handle your finances while you're a student...

Very little advice is typically given to young people regarding how to manage their finances. As a result, many never learn how to handle their finances in a wise or biblical manner. In the short term, this can be wasteful instead of being worshipful. In the long term, it can also establish a pattern that results in needless difficulty and poverty.

I believe it's wise for a student to save 70%, spent up to 20%, and give 10% of what they earn. In this process, they learn the importance of saving for larger purchases like vehicles and college expenses. They also learn the importance of budgeting and setting limits on spending. And most important of all, they learn that money is a tool that should never be worshipped, but should be given generously as an act of worship to the Lord who gives us the ability to earn an income to begin with.

God the Son

God the Son

Have you ever wondered what kind of impact your life is having on others? At some point, we all probably give that question a thought. The truth is, we all have an impact on each other. Sometimes we're good influences, other times we aren't. Sometimes we impact others in ways we never fully realize, but every life can be impactful.

When we take a quick look over the course of history, we can observe the impact of some very influential people. There are people who made an impact in all areas, including, the military, the arts, the sciences, theology, architecture, and social culture. But there is no life we can point to that has had a greater impact on each of these areas and more, than Jesus Christ.

God the Father

God the Father

Becoming a father is one of the most transformative events of a man's life. You watch your life transform from being self-focused, to being focused primarily on the needs of other people. With every decision you make, you weigh the kind of impact it will have on your children. You protect. You provide. You mediate disputes. You offer counsel and correction daily. You try to prepare your children to gradually navigate life without your help. And you pray in desperation for the Lord's intervention in the lives of your children.

Many latent instincts get triggered in your mind when the Lord gives you children. The first time I purchased life insurance was once we had kids. If something unforeseen happened to me, I wanted to make sure they could be provided for even after my death. Every day from the moment your kids are born, you begin making both small and large sacrifices together with your wife for the long-term benefit of your children.

I have often said that becoming a father has given me new insight into God's loving and sacrificial heart toward His children. I understand His love a little better than I used to. I identify with His willingness to sacrifice for our benefit more clearly. I have even come to appreciate His willingness to discipline us for our own good in a new way.

Scripture reveals many things to us about God the Father, and today we're going to look at His role, His work, His relationship to us, and how we can reflect His heart as we interact with others.

Knowing God

Knowing God

I'm guessing that each of us probably have a list of people in this world that we would like to get to know. I'm sure that list includes plenty of people that we know about, but there's a big difference between knowing about someone and knowing them personally.

I had the opportunity the other day to look through hundreds of old family pictures. In the midst of the stacks of pictures, I came across a picture of my Great-Grandfather, Joseph Lewis. He was a coal miner in Wilkes-Barre, PA and he died tragically in a mine accident many decades before I was born, but when I was a child, my Nana, his daughter, used to tell me a lot about him. Through her, I learned that he was a kind man. I learned that when he would have to punish her brothers, he would often sit and cry with them afterward. She told me that he was adored by the neighborhood children because he would frequently join them in playing games in the street in the evenings.

God is unique

God is unique

Many people in this world claim to believe that God exists, but if you ask them to give you specifics about what He's like and what He does, you're likely to be given a lot of opinions, but very little biblical evidence to back those opinions up.

God desires a deep, personal connection with His creation. He isn't disinterested and uninvolved with what He has made. He doesn't ultimately desire to be disconnected or distant from humanity. For these reasons, He has intentionally made Himself known to us. Creation itself testifies to His existence, but in addition to that, He has intentionally and progressively made many specifics about Himself known to us over the course of history.

At present, does God seem distant and unknowable to you? Would you like to get to know Him better or more deeply? Likewise, God has revealed Himself to us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Typically, we refer to these three Persons as the Trinity, but do we truly understand this concept?

Recapturing the heart and mindset of the early church

Recapturing the heart and mindset of the early church

One of the joys of being a follower of Christ is the privilege that He grants you to likewise be part of His family, the church. In Christ, all believers are united to Him as the head of the church, and to one another as the body. We were created by the Lord to operate in community, and we have the privilege to be a vital and beneficial part of one another's lives.

But living in community with your brothers and sisters in Christ isn't always an easy thing to do. Sometimes, our preferences or selfish tendencies can get in the way. Sometimes, as the result of an offense, it can be easy to pull away from others while you brood over what has you upset. Other times, it can be easy to lose sight of what's really important in this world, and as a result, we invest our time elsewhere instead of investing it in Christ's people or allowing them to make investments in us.

Thankfully, we have multiple examples from Scripture that show us a glimpse of the attitude Christ wants us to foster among one another. As we look at some of these examples, we can learn more about what it would mean for us to recapture the heart and mindset of the early church.

The kind of woman I hope my daughters become and my sons marry

The kind of woman I hope my daughters become and my sons marry

When you become a parent, a curious change takes place in your life. You begin thinking about yourself less, and a large percentage of your time and emotional energy is invested in the care and well-being of your kids. It's a healthy, but difficult process to endure because along the way, you also go from being their hero who can fix everything and can do no wrong, to being the target of a decent amount of complaints and critiques. Somewhere along the way, however, I'm told that your kids start liking you again, primarily when they start having kids.

I regularly tell my children that I'm praying for them. There isn't a single day of their lives that I haven't prayed for them, not because I'm being forced to, but because the Lord compels my heart to do so. The Lord has blessed my wife and me with two daughters and two sons, and we frequently pray about their spiritual growth, physical safety, and future marriages. Along the way, we do our best to impart biblical wisdom to them in the hopes that they will receive it and adopt it as their own.

When I look at Scripture, I see many examples of people who trusted in Christ and used their lives to serve and worship Him. Many of those examples are godly women that we would all do well to learn from. One such example is a woman who was part of the early church and partnered, along with her husband, with the Apostle Paul in his church planting ministry. Her name was Priscilla, and when I look at what Scripture tells us about her, I see the kind of woman that I would like my daughters to copy and my sons to marry.

Last night I preached a "one-second sermon"...

Last night I preached a "one-second sermon"...

Each week, I spend a good chunk of time working on the sermon that I'll preach on Sunday. When it's all said and done, my notes are about the length of a 10-page term paper, and I typically speak between 45-50 minutes. But last night, I had the privilege to preach a sermon that was one second in length.

I left the church later than normal last night. Right around 7:20pm, I started walking to my car when I noticed a woman and her three young grandchildren playing on our church playground. I said, "Hello," and then I asked her, "Do you or the kids need to use the bathrooms or anything before I go? I can wait to lock up if you need anything inside."

Your sorrow is only for a season

Your sorrow is only for a season

Think for a moment about something that made you sorrowful. I realize that's not always the kind of thing we prefer to think about, but since it's also not wise to deny ourselves the opportunity to grieve when we need to, let's think about something in that category for a moment.


How profound was your sorrow? Are you still in the midst of it? If not, while it was fresh, what did you do? How did it impact your daily life? How did it impact the nature of your prayers? Did you ask God for relief or did you find yourself feeling somewhat angry at God for allowing that grief to come into your life?


If your sorrow was a while ago, can you identify anything good that came from it? Truthfully, it's often our most difficult seasons that do the best job of making our hearts tender, our arms powerful, and our faith strong. Many of us can testify to the fact that even though we didn't enjoy our earlier seasons of sorrow, we don't regret them now because we're grateful for what we learned. And something else the Lord teaches us from those sorrowful experiences is that they don't last forever. For those who are in Christ, our sorrow lasts only a season and we see that very fact displayed in Jeremiah 50.

You might be a skeptic if...

You might be a skeptic if...

Are there people you have to interact with regularly that you don't really trust? I have an acquaintance that I have to interact with periodically throughout the year, and the longer I have known him, the less I feel I can believe what he says. I'll think he's speaking plainly with me, then discover that what he said is the opposite of what is true. It's hard to function or work with someone like that. In fact, I consider it nearly impossible.

Generally speaking, do you tend to believe others when they tell you something or do you take what they say under consideration until you have the opportunity to do a little research yourself? What about the Lord? When He speaks, are you primarily skeptical or are you trusting of what He says? To what degree do you value what He has made known in His word?

In the portion of Scripture we're looking at today, we'll be shown various signs of unhealthy skepticism and how God chooses to ultimately address the fruit of this form of unbelief.

Tonight a Muslim man yelled into our building...

Tonight a Muslim man yelled into our building...

Tonight I had an experience that was both unique and uncomfortable. On Sunday evenings, I regularly preach for the service at BlueStone Church, our sister church in West Conshohocken. Because the weather was so beautiful tonight, we left the windows and the front doors open during the worship service to let the evening breeze into the building.

The front of the church is very close to the edge of the road, and while I spoke this evening about the sacrificial love of Jesus and how Jesus calls us to love one another with that same kind of sacrificial love, I noticed that a man pulled his car up to the entrance of the church and he sat there during the course of the message for over 35 minutes. At first, I assumed he was waiting to pick someone up from one of the nearby homes. Then I wondered if he was planning to attend the service, but wasn't sure where to park. But soon it became clear that he wanted to hear the message from his car, so he parked in the fire lane outside the church and listened. It seemed a little curious to me, but didn't immediately strike me as alarming.

Don't you get tired of running from God?

Don't you get tired of running from God?

A few years back, I was talking to a friend of mine. His daughter had recently moved to a different country and taken a job there. He wasn't happy about it though. In addition to missing her, he questioned her motivation for moving. Their family had experienced a high degree of conflict and disfunction during the years prior and he was convinced that she had moved far away, particularly to avoid having to interact with her mother. He described what she was doing as "running."

Have you ever felt like you were trying to run from something? Has there ever been a season of your life when you may have been running from God? I know that in my life, there have been a few occasions when I was trying to run from Him. I'll let you in on a little secret. It doesn't work.

Sometimes, God tells us things we don't want to hear. Sometimes He asks us to be obedient to Him in ways that conflict with our preferences or personal goals. Sometimes He confronts the prevailing logic of our generation and asks us to go in a different direction. How do we respond to Him in those moments?

In Jeremiah 39, we can see an example of someone who spent plenty of time ignoring the voice of God. His heart spent years running from the Lord, and then his legs attempted to do some running as well. What do you suppose the Lord wants us to learn from a passage like this? What kind of questions should we be asking ourselves as we look at this sad season in King Zedekiah's life?

Let compassion motivate your action

Let compassion motivate your action

Several years ago, I had a conversation with a friend regarding our opinions on how to help impoverished nations. We debated how best to do so and didn't necessarily agree on our approach. But one thing we did agree upon was the importance of showing them compassion.

The other day I saw a video of Christians in South Korea filling plastic water bottles with rice and throwing them into the sea in such a way that they stood a chance of washing up on the beaches of North Korea and feeding the impoverished people living there. In addition to the rice, they also attached copies of the Bible to the bottles with the intention to reach them with the gospel since religion is illegal in North Korea.

Compassion is something our Lord inspires within His people and empowers them to practice. When the Lord fosters a sense of compassion within your heart, how do you respond? Do you contemplate it until the impression goes away, or does Christ-centered compassion motivate you to take action?

You don't need to be troubled. It's all going to work out.

You don't need to be troubled.  It's all going to work out.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the central event of our faith. Everything we believe rests on that singular event. If Jesus did not rise from death, our faith would be pointless. If our Savior is dead and buried, then we are still spiritually dead, chained to our sins, and destined to spend our eternities as rebels who are banished from the presence of God.

But Jesus is not dead. The tomb is empty. He rose from the grave just as He assured His followers He would. Because of His resurrection, we can be assured that we who believe in Him will also rise from death. As we trust in Jesus, He lives within us. The grip sin had on our lives has been broken. The command Satan had over us has been nullified. The sting of death has been replaced with the assurance of everlasting life.

I bring this up today to encourage our hearts with the truth that Jesus took the time to explain to His early followers. We don't need to be troubled, because everything is going to work out. Jesus has secured the ultimate victory, on our behalf, over everything that was torturing and defeating us. This is the kind of confidence Jesus was seeking to instill in His followers after His resurrection. As we look at this passage, and attempt to foster the same kind of confidence in Christ that His early followers were developing, there are several questions, based on this passage, that are worth asking.

Would you like to know what can bring you peace?

Would you like to know what can bring you peace?

When you're stressed, upset, or anxious, how do you deal with those emotions? When your mind is filled with worries, what do you try to think about instead? What do you daydream about? I bring these questions up because our answers can help us identify what we actually believe can provide us a sense of peace.

This world is looking for peace. Ever since mankind severed our fellowship with our Creator, we've been attempting to find the peace that we long for through created things instead of through Him. This has been the struggle of humanity ever since our earliest days.

This struggle was also highly visible on the day of Christ's Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. As He entered into the city on that day, He was surrounded by all kinds of people. Some genuinely trusted in Him. Others were looking for Him to be the means by which they could acquire the worldly things they actually trusted in. Still others despised Him and openly rebuked and rejected Him.

Each of us can find someone in that crowd that represents the state our hearts are in right now. Would you like to know how true and lasting peace can be obtained? Let's take a look at what we're told in Luke 19.

Can you see what the Lord is about to do?

Can you see what the Lord is about to do?

Not long ago, our family took a small trip to stay in a log cabin near the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. We had a lot of fun. The cabin was really accommodating. There were a lot of things for us to do nearby. And on top of it all, the cost to take this trip was extremely cheap. It was quite possibly the most affordable excursion we've ever taken as a family.

On our last day of the trip, the weather outside was very cold and windy, so we spent some time indoors playing board games. Specifically, we played Monopoly. I'd like to tell you that I won, but I didn't. The game was dominated by my son, Daniel who got off to a strong start and never looked back.

At one point, I landed on one of his properties and didn't have enough cash to pay him. I tried to work out a deal with him, but he wasn't interested in what I offered him. So I tried to use psychology to influence him to give me the deal I wanted. I said, "If you turn this deal down, you can see what I'm going to have to do next, right?" He wasn't sure what I was going to do, but he risked it and turned down my offer anyway. Basically, my only option was to make deals with everyone else in order to raise the capital I needed to pay him.

When we look at this portion of Scripture from Jeremiah, God lets us see ahead of time what He's about to do. He has chosen not to keep His plans secret. He prophetically reveals His intentions for His people. Still, it requires faith to be able to trust Him to do what He has said He will do. It requires a God-given ability to look forward and treat the future like it's a foregone conclusion. Do we have that kind of faith? Can we see what the Lord is about to do? Are we willing to trust Him for things that aren't right in front of us at present? This Scripture gives us some great counsel regarding that very concept.

Has your sin been forgiven and your fellowship with God restored?

Has your sin been forgiven and your fellowship with God restored?

Have you ever made a promise to God? Did you keep it? I remember when I was 12-years-old and a friend of mine offered me some chewing tobacco. I knew better than to try it, but I tried it anyway. As gross as this sounds, he also encouraged me and another friend of mine to swallow the saliva that was generated while we were chewing it, instead of spitting it out. I took his advice and did that. Within minutes, I went from feeling healthy and fine to feeling like I had the worst case of the flu. My stomach was upset and my head was pounding. It felt like the sick feeling would never go away.

So I made a promise to God. If He helped me to feel better, I promised to never chew tobacco again. In an hour or so, I started to feel a little better, but instead of keeping my promise, I started to use tobacco in just about every form it came in for the next two years. For me, it was very difficult to stop, and in the process I made many promises to God that I broke.

Throughout the Scriptures, we're told of various "covenants" or "agreements" God has made with His people. Interestingly, He always keeps His end of the agreement while His people have a consistent tendency of breaking theirs. But one of the covenants God initiated, the New Covenant, offers us the opportunity to have our sin permanently forgiven and our fellowship with God restored forever. This portion of Jeremiah's book speaks of the New Covenant.