Beyond Today

Our world is so big. People are all over this earth, living lives, being loved, being hurt; each one a small light. There is pain and there is loss, but there is also growth and rebirth. As we look at our lives and the lives of others, we can celebrate the coming goodness, even when the pain of now feels overwhelming.

Loss is a heavy burden. Not just the loss of loved ones or things, but the loss of trust or the loss of hope. We feel surrounded by the emptiness of what we used to have. The pain of it continues to stay alive and runs over us unexpectedly. Even in that loss, though, there is hope. There is hope for a new beginning – for a rebirth. There is hope for something good to come out of tragedy.

Loss ends when there is nothing left to be taken. Rebirth begins when there is nothing left to be taken. That dark moment, the one where we feel dragged down to the point of feeling hopeless, is the same moment that we are able to finally lift our head and look for something new. We finally have let go of everything- maybe not by choice, but because our hands are empty now.

Then, small as it might seem, something new begins. Small, tiny changes that grow and build and finally create something wholly new that envelops us. We finally can breathe again, because the darkness is at bay and the light of day is pouring in. There is still memory of the pain, and signs of the loss, but the day, today, is filled with life again.

When today feels overwhelming and our troubles seem to strangle  any rays of hope, we must look beyond this day’s heaviness and pain. We must trust in the future hope of God and the plan He builds in our lives. He is good and His plans are for good, even when they don’ t feel good. Our tomorrows will be filled with new life because He is the God of life.

Do not let discouragement steal the joy of the future. Prayer (conversing with God) is a powerful way to ground us in Him. Trust Him, talk to Him, and believe in Him. Beyond today, there is hope and there is change.

David danced with all his might - 2 Samuel 6:14

David Is A Witness

Behold, I made him [David] a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. – Isaiah 55:4 ESV

Isaiah says that David was witness to the people and the context of the passage is that God is calling His children to Him. In thinking about what we can learn from the example of David, I want to highlight a few characteristics about David that stand out to me. Of course, there are many characteristics that we can learn from, but I’ve just picked three that stand out to me.

The first example I like is David’s whole hearted passion for what the Lord has called him to do. The passage that reflects this to me is 2 Samuel 6:14, “And David danced before the LORD with all his might…” In this story, David is bringing the Arc of the Covenant to Jerusalem and as it’s processing toward the city, David is offering sacrifices and dancing.

As I think about the moments that are success stories in my life, or moments of completion, did I dance before the Lord with all my might? When I have celebrated and danced (not literally, I have no skills), did I do it whole heartedly? David dances this way even though the woman who was his first love insulted him for it. He chose the passionate dancing over her (2 Samuel 6:20-23, more on that here). Would I choose passionate celebration of what God’s done for me over the thoughts and actions of those I love?

So David reigned over all Israel. And David administered justice and equity to all his people. – 2 Samuel 8:15 ESV

The second character trait of David’s that stands out to me is his fairness. He cared about all his people, not just his favorites. Kings and leader through all of history have taken favorites and given gifts and specials to those they loved over others. David’s fairness defined him and how he handled the results of battles, even when others wanted to distribute spoils selfishly (1 Samuel 30:22-24).

I hope that I can stand for the same thing even in the face of loss or the threat of other’s. Fairness is threatened by all sides from all people in almost every walk of life. The opposite of fairness, by the way isn’t inequality. The opposite of fairness is selfishness and inequality is the result.

And David knew that the LORD had established him king over Israel, and that he had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel. – 2 Samuel 5:12 ESV

The third trait is his complete awareness of the purpose of his situation in life: for the sake of the people of Israel. David knew that it wasn’t about him. He wasn’t a great guy and that’s why he’d earned these results. God wasn’t extra-especially pleased with David. We can see that when David sinned (think: Bathsheba or the census debacle), God didn’t take away the crown. He punished David and expected him to repent, just as he does with us. But God didn’t give the blessings to David because of his goodness and God didn’t take it away because of his sin. God created David to walk the path that he did because of what God wanted accomplished both in David and the people of Israel.

I desperately want to have this view of my life. God made me to do good works (Ephesians 2:10) and He did it because of what He is planning on accomplishing in my life. I need to accept what He brings my way because I trust Him to be fulfilling His plan in me. I am not extra-especially good or extra-especially bad and God isn’t bribing me with good thing or punishing me with bad things as I go along. I am righteous because I accept the salvation of Jesus Christ and have believed on His name and been baptized. Other than that, I’m working to be His servant and accomplish the work He has made me for.

Fresh Air, Part 3 – Sermon Notes

[These are notes from a sermon given at Church of the Four Corners in Independence, MO, by Craig Kackley. The message can be viewed here.]

Deuteronomy 30:19 – Choose Life

Controlling the pace of life

None of the things we spend our time on in this life matter at the end of our dsays. When we don’t controlled the pace of life, we open ourselves up to negative consequences.

1. The risk of sinful choices increases. We often make sinful choices is when we’re spiritually or emotionally exhausted. We’re often open to discouragement. One bit of advice is to HALT. Don’t make a decision when you’re hungry, angry, lonley, or tired.


2. I am less productive. When our pace gets off, we feel like we just need to do one more thing, but we don’t realize that we’re chopping ood with a dull axe. Proverbs 19:2. It’s not doing more that leads to productivity, it’s health.

3. It leaves me feeling empty inside. Always seeking more, wanting promotions or seeking material status.

Psalm 39:6

Burnout isn’t caused by too much activity, it’s caused by doing too much activity with too little purpose. God has created us to do more than seek after stays or wealth.

4. I can’t hear God. James 1:5-8 if you need to know what God wants you to do ,ask Him. He is always ready to give a bountiful supply of wisdom when you ask. BUT, be sure when you ask, that you really expect him to answer. We can’t live stressed out and overworked and expect to hear God

To Be Refreshed

1. Stop this constant push for more. Our culture says more us better, but it’s just not true. We show our belief on this by how we spend our money and how we schedule our time. Ecclesiastes 4:6 – peace of mind is the best. We are the gatekeeper of our lives. No one else is going to fight for our margins but is.

2. Keep the Sabbath day holy. This is tightly entwined with stopping the push for more. Exodus 20:9-10 seventh day is for rest. Going to church is not fulfilling the Sabbath. It’s a part of it, not all of it. It’s a whole day and not a Sabbath hour. It starts with worshipping God, and then it’s about finding a way to allow your soul to recharge. We feel guilty because there’s so much to be done, but that guit doesn’t come from the Bible. Don’t let our culture override the can man’s of the Bible. Rest.

3. Stay close to Jesus. Matthew 11:28-30, Come to Jesus all who are weary, angry He will give you rest.

How different would you life look if you stopped this constant push for more?


Think About These Things - Philippians 4:8

Think About These Things

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. – Philippians 4:8 ESV

In Philippians, Paul advises us to think about the positive things in life. He asks us to choose what we focus our minds on in order to practice living out our relationship with God (Ephesians 4:9). It’s easy to say that we should do that and we often feel like we want to do that, but sometimes it’s easier said than done. When we feel dark and down and heavy, it’s hard to choose to focus on light and good and easy. In Psalm 6, David gives us an example of how he choose to focus on the good even during a bad situation. Hint: it may not be what you think it is.

In verses 6 and 7 of Psalm 6, David says, “I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping. My eye wastes away because of grief; it grows weak because of all my foes.” If you thinking of focusing on the positive, this may not be something that you think he should say. How is he focusing on whatever is commendable, good, or lovely when he says this?

One idea we hold sometimes is that not thinking about not lovely things means not acknowledging the things that aren’t lovely. Pretending you don’t see problems or pretending you don’t feel bad about something isn’t the same thing as focusing on the good. Ignoring the obvious or refusing to face certain truths doesn’t give us power or put us in a place to see God’s glory.

In fact, I would propose that it is difficult or nearly impossible to find the real good in a situation without facing the bad. God is good, all the time, in all situations. He is real and He is there. If we aren’t willing to open our eyes to all of what there, we will miss out on seeing all of what God is capable of doing.

Does this mean that we should give in to the dark, upsetting circumstances? No, absolutely not. After he talks about how bad he feels about things, David goes on like this, “Depart from me, all you workers of evil, for the LORD has heard the sound of my weeping. The LORD has heard my plea; the LORD accepts my prayer. All my enemies shall be ashamed and greatly troubled; they shall turn back and be put to shame in a moment.”

Nothing about his circumstances makes David any less confident of God. It doesn’t make him doubt who God is or what God is doing in his life. Acknowledging troubles is a way to be honest before the Lord. Letting those troubles grow so big in your perspective that they block out your belief in the power of God is doubt.

No matter what, we need to belief that God is who He says He is and that He’s doing what He’s promised to do. Let’s use our focus to acknowledge our circumstance, both good and bad, and choose to focus our minds on seeing Him in all areas of our life.

Bad Advice for Living - Micah 3:5

Bad Advice for Living

Thus says the LORD concerning the prophets who lead my people astray, who cry “Peace” when they have something to eat, but declare war against him who puts nothing into their mouths. Therefore it shall be night to you, without vision, and darkness to you, without divination. The sun shall go down on the prophets, and the day shall be black over them; – Micah 3:5-6 ESV

The book of Micah was written during a time of wealth and prosperity in Judah immediately prior to the fall of Judah in 722. Micah was still around during that fall, and his ministry up to that point was a warning to the overly-comfortable and sinning people of the day. In this book, Micah warns the prophets (the spiritual leaders, you might say) about the advice they are giving to the people. This advice is very commonly given in our world today and we can learn a lot by looking at their bad advice and learning to keep it out of our ears.

The people are being told two different things based on the circumstances of the day. If things are good and everybody’s happy, they are being told to seek peace. If things aren’t going their way of if someone isn’t giving them what they want, then they are told to fight against them. Let’s bring this into today’s world to get some perspective on what this might look like. If the stock prices go up, let’s sit around comfortably and talk about what a great country we live in. If the stock market crashes, let’s blame greedy Wall Street and demand that corporate leaders get fired. If gas prices go up, let’s blame the president and sue the car companies for gas guzzling vehicles. If gas prices go down, do we even notice? If the economy does well, let’s have a wonderful Christmas with lots of gifts and a couple coins dropped in the Salvation Army bucket. If the economy tanks, let’s get rid of all the congressmen because they probably aren’t doing anything anyway.

Why is this a problem? If things are going well, you should enjoy them and, if they’re not, you should fix it, right? What exactly is the issue that Micah has with this system?

The root of the issue stems from what we’re taking our support and comfort from. God is our refuge and strength (Psalm 46:1), our provider (Philippians 4:19). Yet, we often believe more that our refuge is our homes, our strength is the army/police/guns/locks on doors, or our provider is our employer and our own brilliant minds. The problem is that we’re taking our eyes off God and putting them on our circumstances.

If that’s not bad enough, we’re now learning to act on that disbelief. Because we are trusting in our circumstances, we now are demanding that other people do what they have to in order to keep our circumstances just the way we like them. When all our needs are met, we don’t worry about what other people are doing, but when we don’t get what we want, we demand action! Don’t just sit there, make it the way I want it! This is very dangerous way to live life, because we are settling in to a very selfish view point. We must not allow ourselves to accept this as a spiritually healthy option.

Micah tells us the consequences for the people who are giving this advice: they lose the very gifts that allow them to lead and guide. They are prophets, able to discern and support the people, able to teach and guide. This gift is not theirs, however, it’s from the Lord. If they are ignoring the Lord and giving bad advice that is only going to hurt the people, they will lose the gift entirely. My experience with people who have done this is that they often aren’t aware that the gift has been taken and they continue to teach and guide, only getting worse and worse all the time.

Beware of those who teach you to seek the status quo and defend your current lifestyle. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away (Job 1:21). We live by faith not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). There is a time for everything under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1). These are the things that we know to be true, not worrying about what you wear and what you’ll eat (Matthew 6:25).

And I will make them and the places all around my hill a blessing, and I will send down the showers in their season; they shall be showers of blessing. And the trees of the field shall yield their fruit, and the earth shall yield its increase, and they shall be secure in their land. And they shall know that I am the LORD, when I break the bars of their yoke, and deliver them from the hand of those who enslaved them. They shall no more be a prey to the nations, nor shall the beasts of the land devour them. They shall dwell securely, and none shall make them afraid. And I will provide for them renowned plantations so that they shall no more be consumed with hunger in the land, and no longer suffer the reproach of the nations. – Ezekiel 34:26-29 ESV

Let Freedom Ring in Our Hearts

Christ has come “7 to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.” (Isaiah 42:7 [NRSV])

Let Freedom Ring

As we celebrate the freedom of our bodies by means of a culture that’s based on the importance of individual choice, it’s important to remember what true freedom means and the source of the that freedome.

Merriam-Webster defines freedom (the quality or state of being free) as: [1]

a :  the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action
b :  liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another :  independence
c :  the quality or state of being exempt or released usually from something onerous <freedom from care>
d :  ease, facility <spoke the language with freedom>
e :  the quality of being frank, open, or outspoken <answered with freedom>
f :  improper familiarity
g :  boldness of conception or execution
h :  unrestricted use <gave him the freedom of their home>

The Promise of Freedom

In a Messianic prophecy in Isaiah, he says, “The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners.”[2] Often this, along with many other prophecies about Jesus were interpreted literally. Jesus himself, tried to clear this up. He was here for spiritual freedom.

31 Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham and have never been slaves to anyone. What do you mean by saying, ‘You will be made free’?”

34 Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. 36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are descendants of Abraham; yet you look for an opportunity to kill me, because there is no place in you for my word. 38 I declare what I have seen in the Father’s presence; as for you, you should do what you have heard from the Father.”[3]

Living in Freedom

17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.[4]

As we walk daily with Christ, we should be seeing a depth of freedom in our walk that continues to grow. What does spiritual freedom look like as you live it out daily with him?

For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. [5]

Galatians gives us a clue in the phrase, “do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.” We can, therefore, fall back into the sin that enslaved us and the burden of not allowing Christ to be the center. Jesus wants to be the source of our freedom.

34 Jesus answered them, “Very truly, I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not have a permanent place in the household; the son has a place there forever. 36 So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.[6]

Paul talks about freedom in his writings many times as well. In Romans, he says, ”14 For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” [7] Dominion means, “the power to rule”,[8] or, in other words, the power to boss you around.

For an analogy, think of ruled and bossed around in the sense of going to school. When we were in school, there were rules we had to obey. There were places we had to be by certain times and assignments and homework that had to be turned in by a certain time. These things were determined by a litany of adults including teachers and school administrators. In our analogy, the dominion of sin is now what’s telling us where to be, what’s due when, and demanding that we show up when it says to show up so that we will live in eternal separation from God.

When Christ came in, he gave us the right to walk out of the school building and never go back in. We are never required to turn in another assignment or to finish up anything that any of the requirements that were placed on us under the leadership of sin.

Christ gave us something in return. It wasn’t another set of rules and regulations, though. He didn’t rebuild the law of sin and death, version 2.0. Instead, he set up a new standard, one that brings life. This standard is: choice. We choose Him; we choose life and obedience. We choose to submit ourselves to Him, even to the point of enslavement to God, as Paul says.

17 But thanks be to God that you, having once been slaves of sin, have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted, 18 and that you, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. [9]

The Complication of Choice

It’s tempting to take our definitions of right and wrong and turn them into black and white codices for how people should behave. We can see how the choices we’ve made have been beneficial and, therefore, we want all the people around us to have the same benefits. In addition, we can more easily relate to others who have prioritized their lives in a similar way to us and who have had similar experiences to us.

The more we live this way, however, the more we damage the very root of the freedom that Christ brings. Everything about coming to Christ hinges on us making choices. If we expect others to have made or to make the exact same choices we do, we can often inhibit their growth process in Christ. They must choose Christ because of their choice, not because of your choice.

The Risk of Choice

Choice is one of the most powerful freedoms that exists. This is also what makes choice so dangerous. We can choose poorly just as easily as we can choose wisely. When we are making the choice, only rarely do we think we are making a poor choice. Hindsight is a great teacher. It is much easier to see unwise choices in others.

Because we can see consequences to others choices sometimes more quickly than they can, we often want to try to tell them how to live. This can be very dangerous to us and to our relationship. It is dangerous to us because we begin to view our life and our choices as the standard that others must be striving to achieve. It is dangerous to others because as soon as you let others convince you to make choices for you, you’ve handed over the power of one of your greatest assets to them.

This isn’t to say that we never try to help another person or talk to them about what they’re doing. In fact, the scriptures indicates specifically otherwise. In Matthew 15, Jesus talks about immediately addressing sin issues and the power of God that comes between people who are deeply concerned about working out troubles.[10] Paul talks about gently rebuking those who are sinning as a way to help fulfill the law of Christ.[11]

The point of these two passages of scripture are to indicate that we are to help each other reach deeper into the heart of God and be more like Jesus. The influence that we’re trying to avoid is reaching out to try to make others look more like us.

Freedom in the Context of Daily Life

We know that Jesus has set us free from sin and death. As Christians who are deepening our walk with Christ, we should be watching to see that the law of sin and death is falling away from us. But, in all the complexity of life, how do we know if it is?

In order to know this, we must know who we are in Christ. Oftentimes, a situation is confusing to us because we can’t see who we are trying to become in Christ. When that happens, we don’t know what to say yes to and what to say no to. As we know who Christ is making us to be, both in the general sense of Biblical promises for what he’s given and individually for our gifts and our talents, the fog of life begins to life and we can clearly see what’s beneficial for us.[12]


[1] “Freedom.” Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 5 July 2015. <>.

[2] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Is 61:1). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[3] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Jn 8:31–38). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[4] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (2 Co 3:17). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[5] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Ga 5:1). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[6] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Jn 8:34–36). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[7] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Ro 6:14). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[8] “Dominion.” Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 5 July 2015. <>.

[9] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Ro 6:17–18). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[10] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Mt 18:15–20). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[11] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Ga 6:1–5). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[12] The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (1 Co 6:12–14). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.