Welcome to the Insights page. Below are devotional thoughts that might be of help for your walk with Jesus. At the bottom of the page is a form by which you can submit prayer requests, share what God’s doing in your life, or simply ask a question that’s on your mind. If you intend for your request to be confidential, please make a note of it and will leave it off our central prayer list. Blessings.
Living in the Biosphere
James 1:2-3 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
In the late 80’s, early 90’s, millionaire Ed Bass sponsored an ambitious project called “Biosphere 2” (Earth being Biosphere 1). The centerpiece of the experiment was a 3-acre structure intended to be hermetically sealed off from the outside world, able to fully and indefinitely support human life for two years – much like what would be required in space. The designers included a rainforest, a savannah, trees, vegetable plants, insects, chickens, a goat – even a miniature ocean! They really believed they had included everything necessary to be a miniature earth. September 26, 1991, eight specialists were sealed inside.
In almost identical (and scary) ways Biosphere 2 was exactly like Biosphere 1 which ultimately derailed the whole thing, but that’s for a different article. (Hint: federal marshals were involved.) They also ran into another unexpected problem. The trees they were counting on for food and oxygen fell over. Ed Bass, dozens of engineers, scientists, and other reasonably intelligent people didn’t seem to know that when the wind causes a tree to sway, the tree responds to the stress by strengthening its wood. When in an environment without the stress, like in Biosphere 2, it only develops weak wood and can’t resist gravity. It falls over. For a tree to even be a stress is good.
It’s natural for human beings to desire a stress-free life: all needs always met; no relational conflict; success at whatever we put our hand to; no health issues. Ironically, we expend a lot of energy toward fashioning a life where that’s true. But is that always a good thing?
James says it isn’t. In fact, we should meet trials and testing with “joy” when (not if) they occur. Why? They cause us to develop the “strong wood.” But when stress or trouble comes to a follower of Jesus, our first question is almost always, “Why is this happening?” Or even, “Why is God punishing me?” James says instead to meet it with confidence. It’s an opportunity for growth. God did not necessarily cause it, but he can certainly use it for our good and his glory.
COVID-19 is not something anyone foresaw or intentionally caused, but it’s sure causing a lot of stress – People are sick, losing jobs, isolated, fearful, unable to meet with their spiritual family, cooped up, etc. There are many unknowns. Regardless of what happens, disciples of Jesus can embrace this season as one of growth, hardening the resolve of our faith. If nothing else, it keeps us longing for the day Jesus returns and sets things right.
2 Corinthians 4:17-18 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
Depending on Fireworks to Save Us
Matthew 7:21-23 – “Not everyone who says to me ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of heaven – only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. On that day, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name and do many powerful deeds in your name?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. God away from me, you lawbreakers.” (New English Translation)
When in scripture we read the same word in succession like above, (Lord, Lord…) it’s usually to indicate strong emotion. The most famous example is when Jesus is on the cross and he cries out quoting Psalm 22, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).
In the context of Matthew 7:21ff, these people have come to the terrifying realization that they spent their life working for God and even doing spectacular things but are not a citizen of the Kingdom. They’re calling out “Lord, Lord…” in a desperate plea to make their case for the Kingdom based on emphatic confessions and fantastic works. Put yourself in that moment. It’s a terrible thing to realize that what you thought to be true about your eternity isn’t true. Jesus is warning that great emotion and great works are no indication of a relationship with him. It may have simply been a way to get attention.
The Holy Spirit can, and does, sometimes work through people in dramatic ways who really have not been saved; even letting them be instrumental in genuinely bringing others into the Kingdom! (Why He allows this is yet another thing he’s neglected to explain to me, but I digress.)
In our own work and worship, it’s important to not get too swept up in the emotion of it, or lack of it, as a measure of our relationship with Jesus. Sometimes we’ll feel very close to him. Sometimes we won’t. That’s part of the ebb and flow of the relationship, or even our own physical condition. What the Lord does measure is our obedience to his moral law, which he’s just outlined in the chapters before. And even when we fail that, we still trust our salvation to Christ, for ultimately, it’s dependent on him.