Friday, April 28, 2017


                This week I have been working through Exodus 3; the call of Moses to lead the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt and into the Promised Land. It has caused me to do some serious reflection on what it means to hear and answer God’s call on my life.

                There are some close parallels between Moses’ story and mine. I grew up in the church and had a sense of God’s call on my life from an early age; even though I really did not understand what that meant. I remember sitting alone in my back yard, as a young boy, thinking that I would someday like to write things that would have a spiritual impact on other people’s lives. I knew enough to know that I wasn’t going to be called upon to write “scripture”, like the Apostle Paul, but I felt a keen desire to make a spiritual difference. That desire lay dormant in me for many years.

                When I was in High School, I was invited to go on a mission trip to Haiti. That seemed pretty exotic to me and I jumped at the chance. To be honest, I was more drawn by the chance to travel to another country than by an opportunity to serve the Lord. While I was in Haiti, God grabbed my heart. I became convinced that God was calling me into active service. I automatically concluded that I was to become a missionary and return to Haiti. With that in mind, I set my own course to fulfill God’s call.

                Along the way, I was plagued by feelings of inadequacy. I was timid and shy and struggled to express myself before other people. So I decided that the best way for me to serve God was to become a medical missionary. I felt that I was not smart enough to be a doctor, so I set my sights on becoming a Lab. Technician. I surmised that I could best serve the Lord in the shadows, working in a hospital lab, supporting those who were on the front lines. I would work with youth on the side. Looking back, I can see that I was hiding from God.

                Through a series of setbacks and unexpected circumstances, I ended up attending seminary. I enrolled in the Master of Christian Education program and secured a job working in a local hospital. Unbeknownst to me, God had me right where he wanted me to be. In a kind of “burning bush” experience, God called me to let go of my plans and accept what He had in mind for me. I struggled with God about that. I had invested six years of higher education to get to the place where I was. I was content working in a hospital lab and volunteering at a church. But God set before me a challenge; will you trust me? Reluctantly, I accepted God’s call. He sent me back into the world I had run away from. Looking back over 35 years of pastoral ministry, I can say that it was the best thing that could have happened in my life.

                The Bible is clear that God has called every believer into service for Him. Not everyone is called to be a pastor or missionary. In fact, most are not. I think this is one reason why we so often miss God’s call. We don’t feel led into “full-time Christian ministry” so we assume that God has not called us. In truth, God has called all of us into full-time Christian ministry. The only difference is the venue. The vast majority of Christians will be called to serve God within the context of a secular job. Jesus implied this in Matthew 5:14-16. "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Peter picked up on this theme in 1 Peter 2:12. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. Wherever God places us in this world, we are to reflect His light and point people to Christ.

                Like Moses, many of us respond to God’s call with reluctance. We look at ourselves in the mirror and declare that we are not qualified or adequate for the task. Our problem is that we have our eyes on ourselves and not on God. Moses’ first reaction to God’s call was shock. But Moses said to God, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?" (Exodus 3:11) God was not fazed by Moses’ inadequacy. Instead, He gave Moses a promise that He gives to every believer. And God said, "I will be with you. (Exodus 3:12a) None of us are adequate in ourselves to fulfill God’s call. It is only as we lean on His power that we will succeed. At the end of the Great Commission, Jesus reiterated God’s promise to Moses. “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:20b)

                But, I think there is a more fundamental reason why we don’t embrace God’s call on our life. We are not really listening. We expect some dramatic event to take place that will give us complete certainty. Instead, God calls to us in a quiet, most often not dramatic, voice.

                Our conversation was spiritual and intense. I had been meeting with “Bob” and his brother for a number of months. Over that time “Bob” had become more curious about the Gospel. On this particular occasion, things had gotten deep, and I could tell he was very uncomfortable. Finally, in exasperation, he said, “The Bible talks about God sending prophets to tell people about Him. Why hasn’t God sent a prophet to me?” A smile spread across my face as I looked at him and said, “He has. I’m sitting right here.”  

                My point is that God is speaking to us all of the time, but we have not tuned our ears to hear His voice. We are simply not listening.

                I still struggle with God’s call. I still struggle with feelings of inadequacy. I also still hear God saying, I have placed you where you are for my purposes. I will use you where you are. I will always be with you. Will you trust me?

                God is calling you into His service right where you are. Are you listening? 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


Exodus 18:17-18
Moses' father-in-law replied, "What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.

                One area of ministry that I have always struggled with is delegation. I am a task oriented person, so it is just easier for me to do a job than to orient someone else to do it. There are two major problems with this strategy. First, I tend to take on more than I can realistically handle. Second, I deny others the opportunity to serve in meaningful ways. Oh yes, there is a third drawback, it hinders the ministry from growing.

                In my daily devotions. I have been reading Exodus. When I came to Exodus 18, it jumped off the page at me. God had led the people of Israel out of Egypt. He had saved them from the pursuing Egyptian army. He had provided for them food and water in the desert. At this point, the people are camped in the desert getting organized. Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, comes to Moses to see how things are going. He is excited about all that God had already done for the people and for Moses. But as he observed the operation of the camp, he noticed a significant flaw.

                The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, "What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?" Exodus 18:13-14

                Jethro was not impressed by Moses’ leadership style. Moses had taken upon himself the responsibility for the entire group of people. All day long he would listen to people’s questions and disputes. It was a tedious and draining exercise. It hindered Moses from doing what God had called him to do and it frustrated the people. Jethro, as an outside observer, called Moses onto the carpet. Listen son, this is not good. You need a better plan. So Jethro suggested one.

                Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people's representative before God and bring their disputes to him. Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform. But select capable men from all the people--men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain--and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied." Exodus 18:19-23

                Moses listened to Jethro and things improved. Unfortunately, I identify with Moses (too much). Because I have a high sense of responsibility, I tend to take on too large of a role. Like Moses, I need to learn to let go and delegate responsibility to others. I have taken steps in this direction, but I still have a long way to go.

                The overall lesson from this story is that the Christian life and ministry is a shared experience. If we try to do God’s will alone, we will become overburdened and discouraged. We need one another as active partners. God has gifted each of us with unique abilities that He wants us to use for the good of the body of Christ. It as we share the load that we accomplish far more for God than we ever could going solo.

Ephesians 4:16

From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Dreaming Dreams, Recounting Memories

Joel 2:28
 "And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your old men will dream dreams,
your young men will see visions.

                A week ago, my wife and I had the privilege of reconnecting with a young couple who had been a part of our church during their college years. I was encouraged as they recounted their experience at with us, and how they look back on that time with fondness and appreciation. They had their two children with them, and at one point their son was encouraged to enter into the conversation. In a tongue-in-cheek manner he said, sure I’ll share my memories of being at this church. (This couple left for the Twin Cities when he was less than one year old.)

                That conversation has rattled around in my mind and jarred a few thoughts loose. When we are young, and our life stretches out in front of us, we are full of dreams. We dream about all of the exciting possibilities that are out there. We dream about what we want to do with our lives, even if we don’t have a clue. When we get older, we spend far more time looking back and recounting memories of how life turned out. They think about what worked and what didn’t work. We celebrate our successes and mourn our defeats. When we are young, we dream. When we are old, we remember.

                When I began my ministry at our church, I was carried along by enthusiasm. I didn’t have a clear cut plan for where God was leading us, but I was committed to discovering it, to the best of my ability. I took some bold steps along the way, always with an eye on the possible. Growth and expansion were not a wish, they were an expectation. Now 30 years later, I find myself spending much more time looking back than forward. I rejoice in how far God has brought us, and how much of my dream actually materialized. I also reflect upon all of the things that did not turn out the way I expected them to turn out. Disappointment is a part of life. We cannot avoid it. We can decide what we are going to do with it. It can either be a catalyst for change or a millstone that immobilizes us.

                The other day, as I was reflecting upon some of these things, Joel 2:28 came to my mind. In that passage, God gave the prophet Joel a glimpse of the future. God told him that a time was coming when God would pour out his spirit on all people. The outcome would be a significant change in perspective. I want to focus on just one phrase: your old men will dream dreams.

                We live in a youth oriented culture. Almost everything is geared toward engaging young adults. One outcome of this is that people are trying to hang onto their youth as long as possible. As people get older, they are doing some pretty crazy things to look young on the outside, even as they age on the inside. This focus on youth has permeated the church as well. Many of the loudest voices within church culture are young voices, filled with great enthusiasm, big dreams, and little perspective. The age of honoring those who have walked the journey the longest seems to be passing. Age has become a liability, not an asset.

                Lest I sound like I am whining, I think that a big part of the problem is that many of us who are on the other side of life’s crest have stopped dreaming and have spent too much time looking back. It is time to start dreaming dreams again.
                I am always challenged by the worlds of Paul in Philip. 3:10-14.
                I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
                Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

                Paul understood what we often forget. The race of life is not over until we cross the finish line. As long as we have breath in our lungs, our race is not over. The greatest gift that age gives to us is the gift of perspective. It allows us to cut through the fluff and the clutter of life and zero in on what is most important and most valuable. Looking back can help us to see what has paid dividends and what has not. With this perspective, it can help us to make better decisions in the future. We all have many years of fruitful ministry ahead of us, if we will tap into the power of the Holy Spirit and dream dreams.

                The church needs the enthusiasm and vitality of the young. The church also needs the wisdom and perspective of the “old.” I think that is a part of what God was saying through Joel. It is as we couple the visions of the young and the dreams of the old that we can see amazing things happen.

                Paul wrote to Timothy and encouraged him to not let people look down on him because he was young. If I may take the liberty to rephrase that for today, Don't let anyone look down on you because you are “older”, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.

                Satchel Page was a star baseball player in the old Negro Leagues. After Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball, Page got his chance to shine. He was signed as a pitcher with the Cleveland Indians. Page had no birth certificate, so people always questioned his age. He had a classic response. “How old would you be, if you didn’t know how old you was?” The issue for all of us is not age, it is attitude.

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Are We Really Paying Attention?

                I was walking through the grocery store last week, when I overheard a brief conversation between a customer and an employee. The customer stated that Sunday was going to be Palm Sunday. The employee responded, I don’t pay attention to that stuff.

                Today is Good Friday, one of the most significant days of the year for Christians. Today is the day that Jesus went to the cross. But are we really paying attention? Are we really embracing the significance of what this day is intended to remind us?

                In our busy, secularized world, we can unknowingly slip into spiritual amnesia. We can go through the motions of our faith, without really engaging in the reality of it. It scares me to think that I might be sleepwalking through my faith.

                One of the common refrains in the New Testament is be alert. Now 2000 plus years after the events of Good Friday, we desperately need to wake up and be alert. When Jesus taught about His eventual return in power and glory, he warned us to be alert.  Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. (Mark 13:33)

                When Paul talked about being equipped for the spiritual battle that we are engaged in, he challenged us to be alert and stay connected with God the Father through prayer.  And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:18)

                We cannot afford to let down our spiritual guard. We are far more vulnerable than we realize. We have an enemy that is crafty and cunning and knows how to take advantage of our weaknesses. Peter understood that well. In his fist letter he wrote, Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

                I wonder if Peter was reflecting on that first Good Friday when he wrote those words. Jesus had asked Peter, James, and John to join Him in prayer for the ordeal that was before Him. As Jesus fervently prayed, Peter fell asleep. Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?" he asked Peter. "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak." (Matthew 26:40-41) Later that day, Peter gave into the pressure of the crowd and denied Jesus three times.

                On this Good Friday, I have to wonder if we have fallen asleep on Jesus again. Have we allowed the things of this world to become too important? Have we allowed the cares of this world to weigh us down? Have we allowed our spiritual senses to become dull? Good Friday is a call for us to wake up and pay attention to what really matters.

Romans 13:11-12
And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Reinforcing Our True Identity

                I was listening to the radio, in the car, on Saturday, on my way to the gym. The subject was on memory and how quickly we can forget things. One of the people who was interviewed talked about how she struggled with how quickly she forgot the events of her life. “If I can’t remember something from my past, does it really matter if it happened at all?”, was her question. So she began journaling everything, just so she had a record of her life. I have to confess that I resonate with her struggle. For many years now, I have been keeping a pretty mundane journal of my life. There are some flashes of insight recorded there and more than a few pretty significant events. But, for the most part, it is a flat record of my day to day activities. I just want to be able to look back at some point and remember where I have been.

                Paul David Tripp, in his book, Lost in the Middle, talks about how easy it is for us, as followers of Christ, to forget our true identity. He calls this “Identity Amnesia”. The people of Israel were plagued with it. Even though God had miraculously rescued them from Egypt, they quickly forgot who they were and wanted to go back to Egypt. How crazy is that? Yet, in many ways, we do the same thing. We forget who we are in Christ and regress back into who we were before He transformed our lives.

                Paul David Tripp outlines four common false identities that we so easily slip back into. He refers to these as spiritual replacement parts.
1. We base our identity on our achievements.
                We measure our life by our successes and failures. If we succeed we feel good about ourselves. If we fail we feel bad about ourselves. Our highest goal in life becomes achieving success.

2. We base our identity on our relationships.
                Being a people pleaser, I can identify with this trap. My sense of value is wrapped up in how much people like me. The acceptance or rejection by others can shape how I act.

3. We base our identity on our self-righteousness.
                This is similar to achievement with a spiritual twist. At the heart of this false identity is the need to prove to God and others that I am right. This false identity falls into the camp of works righteousness. My value is based on how well I perform spiritually.

4. We base our identity on our possessions.
                We have all heard the quip, the one who has the most toys at the end wins. This is a very prevalent false identity. It shows up in our need for a fancier car, a bigger home, the latest fashions hanging in our closet. What we possess becomes the measure of who we are.

                All of these are false identities. Our true identity is found in only one place; our relationship with Jesus Christ. We were created in the image of God, with a hardwired need to be connected with Him. None of the false identities above can fulfill that need. They will all leave us disappointed and discouraged. Instead, our need to be connected with God is fulfilled through our faith in Christ.

                Our true identity is not determined by our anything we do, but by God’s grace extended to us. By being united with Christ, through faith, we are given something that we could never earn. The Apostle Paul reminds us of this in 1 Corinthians 1:26-31.
                Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things--and the things that are not--to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God--that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."

                Because of the grace of God, we have been elevated to a status far beyond anything our false identities can offer. We have been taken from being outcasts, living in total obscurity, to being embraced in the inner circle of God’s household. The Apostle Peter describes it for us in 1 Peter 2:9-10.
                But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

                Our new identity in Christ has set us on a positive course into the future. We know that we are secure in Him for all of eternity. Nothing that happens to us in this life can ever diminish who we really are in Christ. Our true identity in Christ should shape how we face the challenges and pressures of life. When we are tempted to “go back to Egypt” we need to be reminded that we don’t belong there anymore. Instead we need to stand firm in our true identity. This will take conscious effort on our part, because our natural self will always want to go back to the old ways. So Peter continues to encourage us to hold onto our true identity in 1 Peter 2:11-12.
                Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

                We are all susceptible to identity amnesia. The enticements of this tangible world can exert a strong pull on our lives. As we approach Easter Sunday, it is a good reminder that, in Christ, we died to the power of this world and have been raised to a new life in Him.

Galatians 2:20
    I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.



Thursday, April 6, 2017

Struggling with Pain

1 Peter 1:6-7
    In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

                I am a classic pain avoider. I do not like the pain of conflict, so I will avoid it if possible. I do not like physical pain, so I will do what it takes to alleviate it. I do not like emotional pain, so I will tend to stuff it.

                Somewhere along the line we got the idea that if we were faithful in following Christ, all this pain would go away. It has not. We thought that life should become easier and we would have smooth sailing. That has not been our experience. In fact, if we are honest, at times the pain and struggles of life have intensified. Why would a loving God allow us to go through these episodes of pain? The answer is found in 1 Peter 1:6-7. God uses pain in our life to refine our faith.

                Paul David Tripp, in his book, Lost in the Middle, talks about our struggle with the painful experiences of life. He makes the point that we want the “grace of release” instead of the “grace of refinement.” Peter assures us that we have been redeemed by the grace of God in Christ and that all of our past has been taken care of. We have been promised an eternal inheritance that is secure and can never be taken away from us. In the in-between time, we must go through God’s refining process. The theological term for that is sanctification.

                Peter puts it into terms that we can all understand; the refining of pure gold. When raw gold is mined, it is combined with impurities, called dross. In order to remove these impurities, the gold ore must be melted. Once the ore has been melted, the impurities can be separated out, leaving pure gold. When we come to faith in Christ, we are like that gold ore. We have been mined out of a fallen world, but we carry with us the impurities of the world. God uses painful situations to melt us so that He can remove the impurities from our lives. This is a life-long process that will not be complete until we stand in His presence in eternity.

                Anyone who has ever participated in a sport, or tried to master a skill, knows that the pathway to proficiency leads through pain. For the athlete, it is the physical pain of training their body to perform at its highest level. For the musician, it is the pain of hours of practice in order to master technique and perform well. Nothing of real value that we pursue in life comes without the price of some form of pain.

                There are several passages of scripture that can add perspective to the pain we experience as followers of Christ. First, in Hebrews 12, we are told to endure hardship as spiritual discipline. Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? (Hebrews 12:7) Like a loving father, God is disciplining us for our good. He is shaping and molding our lives so that we can become all that He desires for us. So  in verse 11 we are told, No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

                James picks up on the same theme of dealing with pain and suffering in our lives. He gives us further insight into God’s purpose for allowing these things to occur. Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4) Notice that James stresses both the process and the outcome. If we want to attain spiritual maturity, then we will need to follow the path of struggle and pain. As a runner, I fully understand this. I set my eyes on running a half-marathon. In order to accomplish that goal, I had to endure hours of ever increasingly long runs, until I was able to reach my goal. The joy comes from knowing that all of our struggle is moving us closer to our desired goal.

                When we begin to see the painful experiences in our life as positive instruments in God’s hands, instead of punishment, then we can not only persevere, we can thrive. As Paul David Tripp states it, we need to embrace God’s “uncomfortable grace.”When we do this, then the words of Romans 8:28 actually become real to us.

Romans 8:28
    And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Pitfall of Progress

                The ancient world saw history as a never ending cycle, without any true rhyme or reason. There are major philosophies today that continue this way of thinking with the idea of endless reincarnation.  Christianity broke away from the main stream of thinking to claim that history is under God’s control and that it is purposefully heading in a specific direction toward a specific end. Western society grabbed a hold of this idea of progress, but left God out of the picture. The overwhelming view for many people today is that progress is our ultimate goal. The questions remains, progress toward what?

                C.S. Lewis summarized the current approach to progress as “chronological snobbery.” It is the idea that anything in the past is irrelevant and that only what is new and modern is of value. We live in a technological world that is driven by progress, without any understanding of where that progress will lead us. Progress, for the most part, is amoral, but it opens the possibility for both great good and great evil. For example, genetic testing has been developed to the point that we can now tell much about a baby before the child is born. Yet this information places before us a moral dilemma. What do we do with this technology and this information?

                One of the outcomes of a utopian view of progress is the promise that science and technology will solve all of humanity’s problems. But reality tells us a different story. Every advance in science and technology brings with it both a positive result and a negative result. For as many people as see only the positive side of the equation, an equal number see only the negative side. We see this clearly in the number of recent movies that project, not a perfect world in the future, but a brutal, decaying world.

                Christianity addresses both sides of this pitfall of progress. First, Christianity is honest about the fallen nature of our world. Because of the introduction of sin into God’s perfect world, both humanity and nature itself have been twisted. We must constantly fight against the forces of death and decay. We cannot escape this battle or assume that we have won it. Paul tells us that the death and decay that we see all around us is a byproduct of sin. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. (Romans 8:20-21)

                As long as we leave God out of the picture, the trajectory of human history will be toward evil. For all of the rhetoric about human progress and the basic goodness of humanity, the evidence points in the opposite direction. The Bible summarizes the bent of humanity in Genesis 6:5. The Lord saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.

                But Christianity does not leave us to wallow in a pessimistic view of our world. Instead, it holds out real hope that can be found in Christ. Jesus came into a fallen, corrupt world to redeem it and restore it. He came to rescue us from our bondage to sin and death.  Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,  who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, (Galatians 1:3-4) He came to restore us to God’s original design. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

                All of history is moving toward the eventual restoration of all of God’s creation. This world, which is captive to death and decay, will be set free and renewed by God. All the old remnants of sin will be swept away and be replaced by God’s perfect world.
    But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.
    Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. (2 Peter 3:10-13)

                Our world is not a never ending cycle of meaningless activities. Our world is also not on a linear path toward some man-made utopia or dystopia. Our world is on a well designed course to an ultimate end that is safely and securely in the hands of God. For those of us who have put our faith in Christ Jesus, we can look forward with great anticipation and hope. No matter what happens in our world, God is in control and the ultimate victory is in His hands.  

1 Peter 1:3-9
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,  and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade--kept in heaven for you,  who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.  In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,  for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.