All posts by: Anthony Stephens

“Patience is a virtue.”

This is a true statement in many ways. Patience is something that many have little of these days. We live in a “Burger King society”: have it your way, right away. While that may be a reasonable expectation of a food establishment, it is not the best expectation from God. There is a tendency to let this mentality seep into our walk with God… to expect Him to get on our timetable and agenda. 

When God does not get in our timetable and agenda (which is perfectly fine because He alone is God), it rattles us and makes us wonder what is going on. We may ask questions like: “Did I miss something?” “Why isn’t God doing anything?”

There is a reason that God waits. We may not see it at the moment, but there is a reason.  We may not like the reason, but there is a reason. Will we wait and see the reason, or will we throw aside the opportunity to see something greater? 

In John 11, there is a desperate situation. A dear friend of Jesus, Lazarus, had fallen sick. This was not a casual sickness. Lazarus is on his deathbed. As Jesus heard about the news of his friend and his sickness, He talks about God receiving glory for this event (John 11:4).

As John continues sharing about the events, he is careful to mention how Jesus loved this family (John 11:5). Martha. Mary, and Lazarus were very close to Jesus. They were near and dear to His heart. This would make the very next verse sound so strange: 

So when [Jesus] heard that [Lazarus] was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. (John 11:6 CSB)

Why in the world would Jesus stay where He was instead of going to the rescue of His dear friend? From how the Bible continues this story, I can imagine that Martha and Mary were asking the same thing. While the waiting that Jesus does here in John 11:6 seems strange and out of place, it is exactly what Jesus should have done. 

The very first word in John 11:6 is the word that is commonly translated in English texts as “so.”  This is a reference word. It lets us know what is coming next is tied to what has just been said.  John 11:5 tells us that Jesus loves this family dearly. It is for that reason that Jesus waits holds His ground for two whole days. I imagine that those days felt like an eternity.

Jesus looked past the opportunity to do just another healing… He looked for the way to demonstrate the fullness of His love. Jesus looked to defeat death. Healing from a bad sickness is one thing, but bringing someone back from the grave is a whole other thing. 

The why behind Jesus’ wait in John 11 was love. God’s heart reaching out to show this love in the clearest and strongest manner possible. What is more powerful and definite than death? The love that God has towards those who follow Him is greater. Jesus had to wait in order to make this statement loud and clear: Jesus is Lord over all (even death) and He loves you greatly.

If Jesus had run to the rescue and healed Lazarus from this dreaded sickness, it would have been great. But to have Jesus say, “Ain’t no grave keeping you from me!” Now that is something worth waiting for. 

You may find yourself in a position where you are wondering what n the world is God up to. You may be thinking that He has forgotten you or worse, He is just ignoring you. Know this: He has not forgotten you… He’s not ignoring you… He may just be working something out that you have no clue about. Trust Him and see what He does. The wait is always worth it. 

The 4th of July is a day of celebration. We celebrate the freedom that we enjoy as citizens of the United States. If there is anything that is worth celebrating, few things are greater than freedom. 

It is why on this day of freedom celebration that I am choosing to share about a book that I recently read. The book is The Money Challenge: 30 Days of Discovering God’s Design for You and Your Money by Art Rainer. 

There are few things that shackle people in bondage – even in the land of the free – more than money and poor financial choices. Art Rainer has given us a straightforward and practical book that will help any person that takes the time to read this little book. 

I really like how Rainer has illustrated the main points of this book with a continuing story of a young lady who is struggling g to get out of the grip of financial woe. The story makes the points a little more “personal” and not just a checklist of things to work through. 

Many of the things that are shared by Rainer in the 30 “money challenges” are successful tools that have been compiled by Rainer from other sources. Rainer has gathered some very helpful resources and tools and built them together to help the reader find victory in their finances. 

I would highly recommend this book to anyone that is looking to take control of their finances. You may not be in “trouble” yet, but this book and its steps will help put/keep you on the right track. Even if you are in “trouble,” this book will point you in the right direction to finding freedom. 

As we celebrate our country’s independence from tyranny today, may many more find the financial freedom that is available in doing finances God’s way. The Money Challenge by Art Rainer is a great tool to help with that. 

Recently, I received a copy of Swipe Right: The Life and Death Power of Sex and Romance by Levi Lusko. I was asked to give an honest review of it, so here we go…

The issue of sex/romance is a powerful one in our world today. Contrary to some popular thoughts, this has been an important issue for the human race for some time. Surprisingly, the modern church has shied away from this topic with many thinking that it is not proper to talk about such things. I couldn’t disagree more.

Levi Lusko has put together a good work that approaches the topics of romance, sex, and relationships from a perspective that speaks to various people well in Swipe Right.

In Swipe Right, Lusko shares various personal stories and truths from the Bible to help point the reader to God’s design for these areas. I think that the personal stories that Lusko shares help build a bridge to the reader and move them to examine the truths from the Bible more than if it they were just shared.

There were times when I was confused at who the audience was.  It would seem to bounce back and forth from adults to teenagers and then back to adults.  Some of the illustrations would show this bounce and had me scratching my head at times.  I did walk away from this “confusion” at times with the thought that youth and adults are struggling with some of the same stuff.  The adults that did not have a chance to hear these truths while they were youth are seeing themselves play the same game that many teenagers are.

Recommendation

I would recommend Swipe Right to any person.  As I stated earlier, these issues need to be addressed by the church.  They are not going away… more and more people who do not hear the truth from God’s word about these topics are going to continue to make mistakes and suffer consequences.


Happy Father’s Day wishes to all the men out there who have one of the toughest yet most rewarding tasks out in the world: being a Dad. May God richly bless you as you follow His lead & lead your family well!

The news story was one that no one wanted to hear. Police had been called to a house to investigate a 911 call. It appeared to be a murder-suicide tragedy. 

Sadness creeps in…

Then you find out that the victims in this story were an elderly couple. 

Sadness grows deeper…

If the news that this tragic event involves an elderly couple was not enough, it is released that this couple was identified by neighbors as a retired pastor from the area. 

That’s just too much…

I wish that I could say that the scene that I have just discribed was fictional and completely made up. The truth is that this is a news story that has impacted an area close to where we live within the past week. 

Alongside the sadness that this story brings stands a gigantic question: What led to this?

The part of this news story that has got my stomach in knots is that the apparent reason behind this murder-suicide is that “the couple’s health was fleeting and they struggled to take care of each other.”

Read that again… “the couple’s health was fleeting and they struggled to take care of each other.” 

My wife and I have recently been talking about the biblical mandate of community among the Body of Christ. If there is one thing that has been struggling in many churches, it is the practice of biblical community. 

This tragic news story should be an alarm for all churches: we desperately need community! 

I know that we have busy schedules. I am as guilty as anyone of putting too much on my plate. This does not excuse us from doing what we have been commanded by our Lord to do: 

I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.  (John 13:34-35 CSB)

Jesus was not talking to the masses when he spoke those words. He was speaking to his disciples. The way they cared for and loved one another would be one of the greatest witnessing tools the Church would have. It would be an undeniable characteristic of those who belong to Jesus. 

This whole thing has brought three prayers to my mind:

  • I pray that this story is an anomaly. I pray that this is not one of many stories that show that the Church is not doing as well with “community/fellowship” as we thought we were. 
  • I pray that the Holy Spirit would comfort the family at this time and bring healing. Can’t imagine the pain they are going through at this time. 
  • I pray the Church would not be blind to the desperate need of community. May we not be fooled into thinking that meeting one-two hours on a Sunday morning constitutes community. It didn’t work for the Church in the first century, and it will not work in the 21st century.