Learning to Trust My Thorn

Most of us are familiar with something called a safe deposit box. It is a box in which we store certain items that we deem to be so important that we want to put them somewhere special for safe keeping. Some of you may be using a safe deposit box to store insurance policies, financial records, birth certificates, passports and other documents and possessions that are of particular importance to you. For some of you the safe deposit box may be somewhere in your home. We keep our safe deposit box at home. It is a steel, fireproof, locked box in which we store many of the items I named earlier. However, some people go an extra mile for safety and security and they rent a safe deposit box at a bank where they believe their valuables will be even more securely protected against theft, fire or loss. Most of us are familiar with the idea of putting our valuables in a solid and secure safe deposit box.

With that in mind, it is interesting to discover that God does not use that same principle when it comes to the most precious and irreplaceable possession that you or I will ever possess, which is our life and health. The apostle Paul says that God gives us the gift of physical life and the blessing of spiritual life as well, and then he says that we have to house those valuables in “earthen vessels.” Not a steel-reinforced safe deposit box, but an earthen vessel. Not a fireproof box that can resist the attacks of this world, but an earthen vessel.

This image of an earthen vessel refers to the clay and mud pots, and bowls and jars that were used by people in ancient tymes. Even today we are aware of the art of pottery where a lump of clay is shaped and molded and then baked into a finished form. But no matter how beautiful that clay vessel might be, it is still an earthen vessel that can easily be chipped or broken or shattered. It does not matter if you are dealing with a $3.50 pot from Wal-Mart or a $35,000 Ming vase imported from China. They are both fragile and delicate. Unlike that safe deposit box made of fireproof steel, it does not take much to destroy an earthen vessel.

Paul draws an analogy between the common earthen vessels of his day and our physical body in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. We are not as strong as we think we are, and we are not as invincible as we wish we were. These bodies in which we live every day are nothing more that earthen vessels that can be chipped, or broken or shattered and destroyed. Paul tells us that God enriches our lives with wonderful things, both physical and spiritual, but then God houses them inside of our physical bodies that are prone to pain, sickness and even death. God places precious things in earthen vessels.

You and I have wonderful talents and abilities that were initially given to us by God and that we have cultivated and developed over the intervening years. But all of those talents are housed in this earthen vessel. We are surrounded by family and friends, we have material possessions that enrich our lives, and we have events and activities that are both business and pleasure that are scheduled for the rest of this year and even into the year(s) to come. But we cannot take any of that for granted, and we cannot assume that all of those things will remain untouched or unaltered, because we have this treasure in earthen vessels.

Our human nature is like Peter on the Mt. of Transfiguration who reached a wonderful moment in his life in the presence of Moses, Elijah and Jesus, and who cried out “Lord, it is good to be here.” Peter wanted to stop tyme at that point. He was where he wanted to be, doing what he wanted to do, in the company of the people he most wanted to be with. He wanted to build three booths on that mountaintop and stay right there forever. But Jesus did not heed that request from his disciple, because Jesus knows better than anybody that you cannot stop tyme at moments that are comfortable and convenient. You cannot put your life in a safe deposit box and try to keep things protected against change or loss. Everything we hold most precious in life does not and cannot fit securely in a safe deposit box. Paul is right when he says that we hold this treasure in earthen vessels.

In understanding Your Thorn (vs. 7-8) we must remember that a thorn is an enduring source of pain allowed by God for our good. Most trials are just for a season and then it goes away, but not all. God could prevent the effects of sin (and sometymes intervenes) but normally allows broken creation to happen and inserts himself post-trial and uses it for our good. Your thorn may impact people you never meet. The thorn is there to keep you from getting too elated or cocky.

It is going to hurt A LOT, but you will be changed by it.

A messenger of Satan gave Paul the thorn (also see Luke 22:31). We don’t know what the thorn is or how long it lasted, because God didn’t want us to know. And that’s okay.

Satan’s goal is to harass & torment us. God’s goal is if he didn’t plan to use it for your good, he wouldn’t have allowed it. God guides the events for his purposes (vs. 8).

It may give me bumps & bruises, and it will be painful, but not fatal. Everything I say I believe is on the line right now. I’ve got to keep going.

I got to thinking about all of this… and how am I going to let my thorn affect me? Am I going to let my thorn take me over and daily frustrate and annoy me? Or am I going to let God use this in my life? I know that it won’t be easy and that I won’t feel like it every minute of every single day, but I do want to overall.


How awesome is that?!?!

Your thorn will crush you and make you bitter without the GRACE. Grace is the package all blessings come in. Grace is the capacity to do anything spiritually profitable. Grace is exactly what I need for what God wants me to do.

Your thorn is for a deeper understanding of total dependence on God.

Tough tyme is NOT quitting tyme. Wow… I so want and need that grace each new day. I can only get through this by completely and utterly depending on God. I admit that I don’t have it. I just don’t have it. I do not possess the power or strength to overcome this trial or to carry myself through it.

Boast in your thorn to experience Christ’s power. Yes, really… brag about it… for the power of Christ, in these ways:

1) Count your blessings
2) Elevate your prayer life
3) Lengthen & deepen your tyme in God’s Word
4) Tell your story
5) Focus on the prize

Hey all, I’m bragging here! God has already done some amazing things in and through me!! I can’t wait to see what’s next. My biggest struggle still so far is #3. I want to lengthen and deepen my tyme in God’s Word, and it’s about tyme I stopped making excuses like I’m too busy! I should never be too busy for God!!!!

We should be content in your thorn to experience Christ’s purpose. It’s not that you need to like it or enjoy it, but that you accept it and embrace it. I am strong only for the sake of Christ. He’s the purpose of my existence.

Oh man, I have got to remember this all the tyme. Christ is why I’m alive and free today. He is my everything, I want nothing more than to want him more!!! I choose to trust him. I choose to let go and let him work in and through me. I choose to stop being so negative and down-in-the-dumps. I know this road isn’t going to be easy, and I know I cannot do it in my own power or strength, but in Christ’s. I place myself daily at the foot of the cross, remembering that my suffering is nothing in light of the cross and all that Christ went through.



Is The Armor Too Heavy?

Figures of speech abound in the Bible. God‘s penmen often illustrated divine truths by comparing it with objects from everyday life. The parables of Jesus dealt with fishing, farming and vineyards, things the residents of Palestine were familiar with.

The apostle Paul often compared our vocation with that of an athlete. He tells us if anyone “competes is athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules” (2 Tim. 2:5). Near the end of his life, he said he had “fought the good fight,” and had “finished the race” (2 Tim. 4:7).

Another figure of speech Paul used dealt with the military. He told a young evangelist to “wage the good warfare” (1 Tim. 1:18) and to “endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Tim. 2:3).

In the latter part of his life, Paul was constantly surrounded by Roman soldiers. On some occasions he was even chained to his guards. He lived in the presence of the greatest military power this world has ever seen. When writing to the brethren at Ephesus, he tells them to put on the “whole armor of God” (Ephesians 6:10-20). The Roman soldier carried his shield, a sword and a spear and wore greaves, his breastplate and a helmet. But what about soldiers of the cross of Christ?

The Gospel Armor

Since we are not fighting a fleshly battle, “the weapons of our warfare are not carnal” (2 Cor. 10:4). In our fight against the wiles of the devil, Paul mentions six distinctive pieces of armor.

“The girdle of truth”: The girdle was not an ornament — it was used to bind all the other pieces together and give the soldier freedom of movement. The center of our armor is truth. In John 17:17 Jesus said God’s word is truth.

“The breastplate of righteousness”: The breastplate of the Roman spearman was made of chain-mail. It was used to protect the heart and other vital organs. Our heart is to be protected by righteousness.

“Feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace”: The sandals of the foot soldier were composed of thick leather soles studded with cleats of iron. This would give the soldier a firm footing during the battle. These sandals were designed to make it difficult to walk backwards. This is just as well since the soldier had little or no armor on his back. If he decided to flee from the enemy he would be better off to discard his armor. Our footing must be supplied by the gospel of Christ. “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace” (Romans 10:15).

“The shield of faith”: The Roman shield was composed of leather or wicker. It was usually four feet long by two and a half feet wide. The enemy often fired long arrows covered with ignited pitch. If an arrow were to strike a soldier his breastplate would stop the arrow from piercing him, but the pitch would fly off the arrow and set the soldier on fire. Our spiritual enemy does not always attack directly. The shield of faith can protect us from his advances.

“Helmet of salvation”: The helmet was made of leather and reinforced with bronze. We are to take, or receive, this helmet from God. It is our salvation.

“Sword of the Spirit”: Unlike the legions of Rome, our only offensive weapon is the “sword of the spirit,” the word of God (Hebrews 4:12). This was the weapon Christ used when attacked by Satan in the desert (Matthew 4:1-11). A soldier is never wasting his time while sharpening his sword. Soldiers of the cross need to become more proficient in their use of our only weapon. Timothy was told to give himself to “reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (1 Tim. 4:13). Our armor is to be put on with prayer. Let us always realize we are mere foot-soldiers, God is in control.

A Lesson From Rome

Flavius Josephus lived during the zenith of Rome’s military glory. Having been made a Roman citizen by Vespasian, he travelled with the Roman legions during the middle of the first century. Josephus was truly impressed with military discipline. He claims soldiers always carried their weapons with them, even in time of peace. Furthermore, practice in the proper use of their weapons never ceased. “Every soldier is every day exercised, and that with great diligence, as if it were in time of war, which is the reason why they bear the fatigues of battle so easily” (Josephus, The Wars Of The Jews, Book III, Chap. 5, 1).

If only Christians could become as familiar with our weapon, God’s word! If we would “search the Scriptures daily” (Acts 17:11) we would never fear the day of battle.

Have you ever wondered what caused a military power like Rome to meet its downfall? Nearly all historians agree that Rome brought about her own demise. Edward Gibbon says “the relaxation of discipline, and the disuse of exercise rendered the soldiers less able, and less willing, to support the fatigues of service” (Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Vol. 3, p. 271). Soldiers were able to convince their officers that the weapons were too heavy. The Roman sword and shield which had subdued the world was cast aside. “The cavalry of the Goths, the Huns, and the Alani, had felt the benefits, and adopted the use, of defensive armor — they easily overwhelmed the naked and trembling legions, whose heads and breasts were exposed, without defense, to the arrows of the barbarians” (Gibbon, p. 271). Gibbon further states that their “indolence may be considered as the immediate cause of the downfall of the empire.”

Is Our Armor Too Heavy?

Occasionally I get the feeling some of my preaching brethren have decided our armor just isn’t suited for today. I get this impression from church bulletins consisting entirely of news, notes and reminiscences, but no teaching. It is also seen in the preaching of some. Instead of meaty sermons from gospel preachers, we hear “three points and a poem” from Dale Carnegie impersonators. Instead of “earnestly contending for the faith” (Jude 3), some would rather apologize for it.

If men do not have the backbone to fight, they should at least get out of the way of those who do. Three times in Ephesians six we are told to “stand.” Paul told the Corinthians the “weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God” (2 Corinthians 10:4,5). It is not enough for us to defend the truth in our own comfortable meetinghouses, we must attack the citadels of error and pull down the enemies strongholds!

When General Douglas MacArthur was called home from the Korean war in 1951, he reminded Congress that “wars very object is victory, not prolonged indecision.” God’s people today can not be interested in merely “holding our own,” we must be on the offensive.

Some brethren have apparently forgotten who the enemy is. Maybe they need a course in “enemy recognition.” Jesus declared that the man who is not with Him is against Him (Matthew 12:30). If a man is not preaching the gospel of Christ, he is a minister of Satan. The devil does not always attack under his own banner, sometimes he advances under a flag of truce. Paul warned us that it is possible for Satan to appear as an “angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14).

Let us remember we are in a “fight to the finish” with our enemy. If we remain in a constant state of preparedness, the enemy will not catch us off-guard. At the end of our struggle we have a home prepared for us with other faithful soldiers of the cross. “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. Yes, says the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them” (Rev. 14:13).

*Resouce: David Padfield

Got Faith?

Matthew 21:21-22 I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. 

We all have faith. We go to a doctor we hardly know. He hands us a prescription we cannot read. We take that prescription to a pharmacist we have never met. He gives us a medication we do not recognize or understand and we take it … all in faith. Faith in God does not come all at once. Faith is a step-by-step process that begins with one small step and increases as we go.  An Old Testament story found in Joshua 3 illustrates this truth.

The Israelites are camped on the bank of the Jordan River. Forty years earlier, they had escaped from Egypt and have been wandering around in the wilderness ever since. All of their needs have been met by God. They have seen miracle after miracle and now they can see Canaan, the Promised Land. However, there is a problem.

A huge river stands between them and the Promised Land and there is no way around it. To make things worse, it is flood season and the usual places to cross are covered with deep, rushing water. The Israelites knew God could stop the river right before their eyes or He could throw a bridge across it – but He doesn’t. Instead, He gives Joshua some very strange orders.

  • First order

      The people are to keep an eye on the Ark of the Covenant.

  • Second order

      As soon as they see the priests carrying the Ark, the people are to fall in behind them.

  • Third order

      Joshua tells the people to expect amazing things to happen.

  • Fourth order

      Joshua commands the priests to pick up the Ark and stand in the river.
God told His people that He would make a dry path through the river but the priests had never seen that happen. In fact, they hadn’t even been born when the Red Sea was parted and there were no reruns of the Ten Commandments at the local Wilderness Theater. The Israelites had spent their entire adult lives in the wilderness and finally, they could see a way out. Oh, and one more problem – the priests couldn’t swim. This was probably the first river they had even been close to in their lives. I can imagine their fear and questions. God was asking them to step out in faith as never before.

I don’t imagine the Israelites had a great deal of faith in God at that moment, but they had just enough faith to take that first step. And that was enough.

Joshua 3:15-17 During harvest the Jordan overflows its banks. When the priests carrying the Ark came to the edge of the river and stepped into the water, the water upstream stopped flowing. It stood up in a heap. So the people crossed over.

Notice that God did nothing until those toes touched the water. That first step was all God needed to see. Many tymes, we won’t take the first step because we’re afraid we won’t be able to make the whole journey.

Don’t wait until you believe it all.
Don’t wait until you can see it all.
Don’t wait until you understand it all.

Step out in childlike faith and put your trust in God. Some people say it doesn’t really matter where we place our faith, as long as our faith is real. I could not disagree more!

A United Press release told of a mid-western hospital where officials discovered that the firefighting equipment had never been connected. For 35 years, the medical staff and the patients had believed in this system, but it had never been attached to the city’s water main. The pipe that led from the building extended 4 feet underground — and then stopped. The expensive equipment was adequate for the building but it lacked the most important thing – water. Yes, their faith was real but it was dangerously misplaced.

Our faith is worthless unless it is placed in God alone. We have no hope apart from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. One of my favorite worship songs says it beautifully:

*Resource/photo: Phillip Raimo

Don’t Fear Innovation

Don’t be afraid of innovation…

Some even call it change…

If you keep doing the same things…you’ll get the same results…


Did you know?

The can opener came almost 50 years after the tin can…

It was years before someone thought to cut a hole in the bottom of a basketball goal…

Plastic was invented years before someone thought to mass produce it…

It makes me wonder…

Maybe your church or organization isn’t dying….

Or at least isn’t dead…

Perhaps you simply need to do something different…

What’s one thing you could do that no one else is doing?

What’s one thing you could change that would improve everything?

Live Like You Were Dying! A tribute to Sergeant First Class Robert “The Duke” Longmack

As I’ve been moving rapidly toward the big 40 point in my life, I’ve noticed a certain shift in my thinking.

And it’s not that freeing shift that I’ve noticed among many men in their forties, that ability to say “I don’t care what you think” and take action thereupon with utter ease and confidence. Although, I have to say, I am looking forward to that. No, this swaying of thoughts has more to do with one word:     Legacy.

What will I leave behind? I’m not worried about material things. Who cares about stuff? I can’t take it with me! I wonder what people will say about me when I’m gone. Or if they even will.

Like the old pizza commercials, I ask myself, “What do you want on your tombstone?

When I’m talk with soldiers who are stressed out and depressed because they feel that they’re not “good enough” or “getting enough done,” I’ll ask them with gentle humor, “So, what do you think they’re going to put on your tombstone? Something like:

Here lies G.I. Joe.

He taught new recruits every aspect of Basic Combat Training.

 And kept himself ”Squared Away” at all tymes. He was An Army Of One!  HOORAY!!

In the same way, I’ve been fretting about my tombstone. What do I want on it? And how do I leave a legacy? What is the mechanism? Is there an instruction book somewhere? And then, in the bittersweet way that life often brings us things, I received a glimpse toward answering some of my questions.

Sgt. 1st Class Robert “The Duke” Longmack, Drill Sergeant for Delta Co 2/46 Infantry Regiment 2rd platoon “MADDAWGS”. He was a advocate for soldiers right, social activist, community leader, my Drill instructor and my friend. He was the kind of man who spent his vacations building latrines for poor villages in Nicaragua. When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, Sgt Langmack flew his plane there to help people make their way through the devastation, both physically and emotionally.

For 8 out of 9 weeks we HATED every waking minute with him, yet Sgt Langmack had the ability to make you feel as though you were the most interesting and special person in the world as he had you doing Flutter Kicks in the hot sun of Fort Knox for what seem as hours at a tyme!

I said that this story is bittersweet so here’s the bitter part:

Sgt Longmack was diagnosed with Hemangiosarcoma in January of this year. Like him this was a rare form of liver cancer.  He died this past Monday. I don’t know why we have to lose someone like Sgt Langmack at the young age of 58. But I do know this – and here’s the sweet part:

On the front page of the website the family used to keep us up to date with Sgt Longmack’s progress was this message –

In lieu of flowe­rs, meals­, care packa­ges, etc., pleas­e hug the peopl­e you love and do an act of kindn­ess. I think we can all agree that he wants is all of us to Live Like You Were Dying! This is the  best ways to honor and suppo­rt Duke durin­g this fight­. He’d love to hear about these rando­m acts of kindn­ess, so go do somet­hing good in Duke­’s name and then email him or post what you did in the guest­book – that will help lift his spiri­ts more than anyth­ing!  Matthew 6:33-39

Kindness. Of course that’s what Sgt Longmack would want during this tyme. Not the focus on him, but on how to be loving and kind to others. It was Sgt Longmack’s legacy. And he hadn’t done it by reading a book, or a blog post, or following five steps, or using some mechanism.

He didn’t preach it, force it on others, or insist upon it. He lived it. Every day of his life. And because he lived it, I – and the thousands of others touched by Sgt Langmack– have this thought engraved in the front of our minds:  Be kind! What a legacy.

In Basic training, we joked and chuckled. We thought Sgt. Longmack wanted to be a Shakespearean actor when he would recite tell us:

You Won’t Wake Up Dead On My Watch! I Won’t Allow, Nubees!” I don’t care if you are the the richest man in the world or are living in obscurity in a remote village. It’s only a matter of tyme. Everyone is going to die. No one gets out alive. The only question is whether or not you have come to terms with it and are willing to live your life on-purpose nowbefore that day comes.

We glorify youth—and youthfulness—and delude ourselves into thinking we are immortal. Unfortunately, this robs us of the insights that come from reflecting on the inevitability of death. Not any death, mind you, but your own death. You are not going to live forever. Death will come sooner that you would like. Love your God,  family and country in that order! Lastly, be true to yourself and to Live Like You Were Dying!”

I want something like that on my tombstone.  “He loved his God, family, country and Lived Each Day Like He Was Dying!” So now, instead of my existential angst, I have a new question. What am I living each day? I don’t really know the answer to that question. Yet. But the thing I’m more aware of now is this:

My legacy is not something “out there,” it’s how I bring myself to the world each day.

Sgt. 1st Class Robert “The Duke” Longmack. The man who took me from being a knucklehead off the block, to a squared away soldier in the field! You taught us to be Men, Servants and Soldiers.

I and Delta Co 2/46 “MADDAWGS” salute you! HOORAY!

*Maddawgs pic by jcool162000


5 Common Roadblocks to Finding Your Passion in Life

Are you doing what you truly want to do? Are you following your passion to the best of your ability? Have you ever looked back at your life and wondered how on earth you managed to overcome some of the problems you’ve encountered?  You’re not alone. If you’re reading this post, the answer is most likely no. Tyme and tyme again, I see people who can follow their passion, but they don’t, because they hold themselves back. I know how hard it can be, because I’ve been in the same situation. There are many lies we’ve been told about following our passion.

 Sometymes it seems like I’m not the one living life, but life is living me. Most of the things in life don’t make sense until after you’ve lived through them. If you try to resist, you’ll suffer, but go with the flow, and you’ll enjoy the ride.The more I follow my heart, the happier I seem to be.

And the worst thing of all is we repeat these lies to ourselves and it keeps us from living the life we truly want and deserve. There are a few common obstacles that most fall into over and over again. Finding your passion in life is, according to me, one of the most important things you can do, because there’s a reason you feel excited about some things and not about others. Just because you know what you’re passionate about does not mean that you’ll instantly know what to do. In fact, often the opposite is true.

You’ll become afraid, because now you have to take action. Now you have to face your fears and move forward.  Following your passion is not obvious, but that’s okay. That’s life. Embrace it, and move forward anyway.

  1. You Can’t Just Follow Your Heart
    If you’re like me, you’ve been told that you can’t just do what you want. Things have to make sense. You have to follow logic, because otherwise you’ll end up homeless pushing a shopping cart.

    But this line of thinking has brought you nothing but misery, and you know it.  It’s time to follow your heart. Follow your excitement. And listen to that voice inside you that beckons you to do what truly matters.

    Your heart will lead the way, if you let it.

You are on this planet for a reason. 

You have things to do here that can contribute to humanity as a whole.

While that may sound crazy, it’s something I choose to believe, because it is empowering to do so.

Many people have beliefs that are negative but not necessarily true.

Would you rather believe something negative or something positive?

Let’s take a look at the five common roadblocks.

    1. Too Many Interests

      One of the first roadblocks people run into is that they have too many passions. It’s hard to choose.

      But the real truth is that once you start to drill down, you will naturally discover that there are only a few topics that you are truly passionate about.

      Many topics may seem nice at first, but they are not what you truly want once you get into them, which is why it’s so important to take action and experiment.

      You can’t know what a new ice cream flavor tastes like until you taste it.

    1. Perfection

      The second roadblock is perfection. You don’t have to be perfect to get started moving toward your dreams.

      You just have to get started. And when you get started, you’ll realize that when you take one step, the next step becomes clear. But nothing happens until you take action.

      That’s exactly what happened to me as I started following my passion. I wasn’t sure of where I was going. And I definitely wasn’t doing things perfectly.

      But once I got going, everything became clearer and clearer.

    1. Foresight

      You don’t have to know exactly what is going to happen.

      We are creatures of habit, which means we like to do things that are comfortable, familiar and certain.

      The problem is that it stops you from going after your passion, because you will have to face fears and you will have to learn new things on your path to realizing your passion.

      Get comfortable with being uncomfortable and you will make tremendous progress.

    1. Know-How

      Another common obstacle is that people often believe that they have to know exactly what to do in order to make their dreams come true and achieve their goals.

      But that couldn’t be further from the truth.

      You see, when you start going after something and set a goal, your unconscious mind will automatically start bringing the right things to your attention.

      For example, have you ever started thinking about buying a certain car, and when you start focusing on that car you suddenly start seeing it everywhere?

      That’s the power of your unconscious mind at work.

  1. Obstacles and Fears

    Last, but definitely not least are the obstacles and fears you will face on your path to your dream life.

    It’s not going to be easy, and even if you get started on your path, you still have to overcome the challenges you bump into.

    This is how you grow as a human being.

    You have to be willing to let go of the old, and embrace the new. You have to be willing to step outside the box and see what’s out there.

Finding your passion in life is not a shortcut to happiness. It takes work, like anything else worthwhile. But it’s work that’s worth it. Well worth it.


*Resource: Henri Junttila. Henri writes at Wake Up Cloud,

Three lies we might believe

It is very much in the devil’s interests that we despair.  If he can get us to believe these three demoralizing lies that he loves to whisper into our thoughts, our powers for Jesus are greatly diminished.

Lie #1: “You’re a hypocrite.  Sure, you’re serving Jesus.  But you don’t really mean it, you phoney.  You might as well give up.”

Answer: “Whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything” (1 John 3:19-20).  “I do not even judge myself. . . . It is the Lord who judges me” (1 Corinthians 4:3-4).

Lie #2: “You’re a loser.  You’ve ruined your life.  You’ll never amount to anything for the Lord.  You might as well give up.”

Answer: “. . . the poor, . . . the brokenhearted, . . . the captives, . . . that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.  They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations” (Isaiah 61:1-4).

Lie #3: “You’re small.  You’re so buried under the debris of our complex and crowded culture, you’ll never make an impact.  You might as well give up.”

Answer: “God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God” (1 Corinthians 1:28-29).