“On the near side of complexity is simplistic; on the far side of complexity is simple.”- Oliver Wendell Holmes

There is a story of an American businessman named Wilson, tired of the Great Depression, rising taxes, and the poverty of the worst economic downturn in modern history decided to sell his home and business in 1940 and move to an island in the Pacific. Balmy and ringed with beautiful beaches, the island seemed like paradise in comparison to what he left behind. Life he thought, would be grand and certainly a lot less complex. The island was Iwo Jima.

There are many stories like this throughout history of people who tried to avoid the complexities of life. What these stories illustrate is that life is messy; it does not fit in nice neat categories; and it cannot be explained easily. The fact is life can be complicated. Into such complexity, into such messiness, steps the Lord. He offers, not to remove us from the complexity, but to help us live in the midst of it, and even more, to help us be transformed so that we rise above it.

Jesus understands life’s complexities better than anyone. Jesus knew every day of our lives before we were born; He knew every disappointment, pain, and heartache. Jesus personally knew the complexities of this fallen world—He was tempted in every way, just as we are: “ This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

Faith, however, is not complicated, people are. Faith is simple, love God and love others. The simpler your faith, the easier it will be to walk in it. “…and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8 NIV).  The apostle Paul wrote, “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3 KJV).

God’s word is simple, we are the ones who complicate it. We complicate it because we cannot believe it could be so simple. To grow in your faith is not through knowing more, but simply trusting more. It increases not by changing more, but by being willing to be changed more.

 “For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).

Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you ever feel like following God is too hard?
  2. What can you do this week to make life less complicated spiritually?


“Our greatest enemy is lostness. Lostness is the terrible enemy that Jesus commissioned His followers to vanquish with the battle strategy that He spelled out for them in Matthew 28:18–20. He was addressing this same enemy when He plainly clarified His purpose in coming: “I have come to seek and to save those who are lost.”― Nik Ripken, The Insanity of God: A True Story of Faith Resurrected.

How often in the middle of a conversation with someone do you pose a simple question?  How can I best communicate Jesus to this person? The reality is we never share Jesus in a vacuum: there’s always an audience, conversation, context, messy circumstances, and complicated people. These conversations are usually far different from the ideal  evangelistic encounters we imagine in our heads.

We quickly discover that we are not “mega-Christians.” Fortunately, God is not looking for superstars, He is looking for faithfulness. He is looking for believers who will open up their lives and have a “gospel conversation,” sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with the lost and searching and trusting the Holy Spirit with the results. The Lord is looking for people who are willing to take a risk.

God chooses to work through people. He could have made other choices, and sometimes He does make other choices. However, His normal plan is to invite His children to go and invite those who do not know the name of Jesus to accept His gift of salvation.

There’s an incredible story Nick Ripkin tells in the book Insanity of God about a Muslim man in the Middle East. A Christian ministry opened a health clinic in this man’s community, and each day he would curse and insult the staff as they passed by his shop on their way to work. He did just about everything he could to undermine the clinic until, one day, he was diagnosed with cancer. Slowly his friends began to abandon him until the only people who cared for him were the clinic’s staff. They reached out to the same man who had cursed them, taking care of him and offering him medical care. Towards the end of his life, this man gave his life to Christ – all because of the radical love he encountered in Christ Jesus.

But the story doesn’t end there. This man’s family was so impacted by how the staff ministered and cared for him that his wife became a bold, outspoken follower of Jesus. In fact, she was so outspoken that she was put in prison. Undeterred, she continued to share about Jesus with the other prisoners until she was moved to solitary confinement. Even when isolated from every other person, she was heard singing praises to God. Finally, the police chief released her and asked her to explain what made her so fearless.

These are not easy decisions or discussions. However, they are necessary and honoring to God and to the peoples of the world who have not yet had a chance to hear about Jesus. Decisions to embrace risk involve loving others more than we love ourselves.

Discussion Questions:

  1. God goes to great effort to seek lost sinners and He greatly rejoices when they come to repentance. What does that mean for each one of us?
  2. God pursues sinners until He finds them. What does that mean for us? 
  3. Determine one concrete step you can take this week to develop more empathy and passion for the lost.


 “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

At the end of Luke 9, we find a story about three men who approached Jesus, eager to follow Him. In surprising fashion, though, Jesus seems to have tried to talk them out of doing so. The first guy said, “I will follow you wherever you go.”

Jesus responded, “foxes have dens to live in, and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place even to lay his head.” In other words, Jesus told this man that homelessness was part of the journey. The second man told Jesus that his father had just died. The man wanted to go back, bury his father, and then follow Jesus. Jesus replied, “Let the spiritually dead bury their own dead! Your duty is to go and preach about the Kingdom of God.”   A third man approached Jesus and told Him that he wanted to follow Him, but before he did, he wanted to say goodbye to his family. Jesus told the man, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.” Plainly put, a relationship with Jesus requires total and exclusive devotion.

What if you were among the three would-be followers of Jesus in Luke 9? What if you were the potential disciple being told to become homeless? What if you were the one who couldn’t bury his dad? What if we were told that we couldn’t even say goodbye to your family? What if you didn’t want to deal with the least, the last, and the lost?

This is where we come face to face with the reality of following Jesus. We do have to give up everything we have to follow Jesus. We do have to love Him in a way that outweighs our closest relationships. Things get real when we give ourselves fully and completely to the endless quest of knowing Jesus and achieving His purposes.

So, we need to continually ask ourselves self-probing questions to see if our commitment is what it should be.  Does your life show commitment to Christ?  Does the frequency of your church attendance show commitment to Christ?  Does the way you worship show commitment?  Does the way you conduct yourself when no one is looking indicate a commitment to the Lord?

Jesus came to serve, not to be served. He washed the disciples’ feet, He served them as He also served the people that they met each day. Healing and teaching the common folks, from farmers to prostitutes, to tax collectors. Jesus sets the example for us to follow in our commitment. Jesus was committed to going where He was needed and suffering for a people who rejected Him.

Jesus is looking for disciples who will follow Him and make him the most important part of their lives so that He is in control of every part. He is looking for commitment.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What does following Jesus mean to you?


“Jesus said, “How can I describe the Kingdom of God? What story should I use to illustrate it?1 It is like a mustard seed planted in the ground. It is the smallest of all seeds, but it becomes the largest of all garden plants; it grows long branches, and birds can make nests in its shade.” – Mark 4:30-32.

The next time you are walking down the spice aisle of your local grocery store, stop and look at the jar of mustard seeds on the shelf. By themselves, they don’t mean much but when coupled with faith, “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible” (Matthew 17:20).

Jesus is telling them that even with a tiny bit of faith, they could move a mountain. In other words, the impossible. They needed only a tiny amount of the right kind of faith to do the impossible.

Jesus knew that the disciples would have difficulties later in their ministry. They would need a faith that could overcome those difficulties. Jesus uses the mustard seed to help teach the disciples that even the tiniest amount of genuine faith can bring something great out of something very small.

Never underestimate what just one individual can do when God is allowed to work through us.  We can trust Him to work through even the smallest of genuine, faith-filled acts to bring about His purposes. Faithfulness does not mean that we will be perfect. It does not mean that we won’t struggle or that we won’t make poor decisions. It does mean that we will continue to trust in God and try to follow His commandments even when life is difficult.

Faithfulness means steadfast loyalty that isn’t easily swayed. Our faithfulness to God means trusting in Him and loving Him through all circumstances. It means following His commandments even when we’d rather choose a different path. The good news is we don’t have to produce this faithfulness alone. God promises to give us strength when we need it. “He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:29-31).

C.S. Lewis said, “[To have Faith in Christ] means, of course, trying to do all that He says. There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you.”

Discussion Questions:

  1. What are some ways that God has tested or is testing your faithfulness?
  2. What people do you look up to because you consider them faithful — people who are full of faith for the Lord? What attributes do they have in common?


“When Haman saw that Mordecai would not bow down or show him respect, he was filled with rage. He had learned of Mordecai’s nationality, so he decided it was not enough to lay hands on Mordecai alone. Instead, he looked for a way to destroy all the Jews throughout the entire empire of Xerxes.” – Esther 3:5–6.

Have you ever been bullied? Has your child ever been bullied? It can be devastating when someone out of the blue decides that they don’t like you, and they are going to attack you physically, verbally, and mentally.  Bullying has been around for a long time.  In fact, several well-known figures in the Bible were bullied.  One of those examples is the story of Esther and Haman.

Esther is a book of the Bible that reads like a novel. It’s got heroes and villains, romance, intrigue, drama, you name it. Esther is a beautiful young woman being raised by her uncle Mordecai after the death of her parents. Esther wins an extended beauty contest to become the next wife of Xerxes, the King of Persia.  Esther is chosen to be the new Queen.  Life should be good for the queen, right?  As the queen, you should surely be immune from bullying, right? Esther’s uncle, Mordecai, was being bullied by another leader named Haman.  Haman hated Mordecai because of his truthfulness and because Mordecai would not bow down to him.

Haman was determined to kill Mordecai.  And not just Mordecai.  Haman wanted to kill everyone else who was Jewish. How does Esther deal with her bully?  Queen Esther is brilliant.  She makes sure that she has the attention and favor of the King.  Many times, others will overlook bullying.  They don’t realize what is going on, or they just choose to look away.  Queen Esther goes to the person who can stop the bullying and pleads for help. God is at work, and Queen Esther, Mordecai, and all the Jewish people gain victory over those who want to bully them and kill them.

While this may be an extreme example, bullying happens in every walk and every season of life. The bully is not your real problem. The real problem is a spiritual force. It’s called evil. The bully is just being used by Satan. You’re not fighting against human beings. You’re fighting against wicked spiritual forces. Ephesians 6:12 tells us, “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” All evil and hatred come from Satan. You may not have the power to stop that bully, but God does.

Esther’s role also reminds us of the fact that God has a unique purpose for each and every one of our lives. As a young orphaned Jewish girl living in Persia, Esther could have never imagined she would become queen and save all the Jews in Persia. Yet, God uses the least of us to accomplish His will, reminding us that it is in His strength, not our own, that we can succeed when faced with bullying and harassment.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What do you do when someone is bullying you?
  2. In what ways does your perspective shift when you see the spiritual forces at work behind bullying?
  3. How does prayer connect us to God’s power?


“While Jesus was teaching in the Temple, he called out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I come from. But I’m not here on my own. The one who sent me is true, and you don’t know him. But I know him because I come from him, and he sent me to you.” – John 7:28-29.

How well do you know God? For most Christians, we go through life with a sense that we know God. One of the greatest challenges we face today is a lack of understanding about who God is. You may know about God, but do you truly understand what He says about Himself—and what He wants from you? Job 36:26 seems to suggest an answer: Look, God is greater than we can understand. His years cannot be counted (Job 36:26).  Hosea grabs this idea in Hosea 4:1… no knowledge of God in your land.”

If we want to know God then we need to look at Jesus. Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world. He is the full and final revelation of what God is like. By looking at Jesus, you can tell exactly what God is like. The Bible says that ‘Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven” (Hebrews 1:1-3).

Jesus is not just an amazing person; He is the Son of God—and God’s free gift to us. Jesus is the one who has come to reveal the Father. He is also the perfect representation of the Father’s nature.

We’ve been invited to know Jesus and, by extension, our Father God. Jesus confirmed, “My Father has entrusted everything to me. No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (Matthew 11:27). The connection is so strong when the Pharisees asked Jesus about the Father, He sharply answered, “…Since you don’t know who I am, you don’t know who my Father is. If you knew me, you would also know my Father” (John 8:19).

It is the Father’s intention that we know Him. That is a major reason He sent Jesus to earth. In 1 John 5:20 we are told: “And we know that the Son of God has come, and he has given us understanding so that we can know the true God. And now we live in fellowship with the true God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true God, and he is eternal life.”

To know Christ is to know the Father. Christ came so that we might understand who the Father is.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Jesus is God’s Son and reveals God to us. Would you put that first in your list of fundamental beliefs surrounding Christianity? If not why not?
  2. How do we hang on to that truth each week?


“So we must listen very carefully to the truth we have heard, or we may drift away from it. For the message God delivered through angels has always stood firm, and every violation of the law and every act of disobedience was punished. So what makes us think we can escape if we ignore this great salvation that was first announced by the Lord Jesus himself and then delivered to us by those who heard him speak? And God confirmed the message by giving signs and wonders and various miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit whenever he chose.” – Hebrews 2:1-4.

ADD (Attentive Deficit Disorder)has become more and more common. Although the symptoms can be complex and varied, the commonality is difficulty in staying focused on one thing at a time.  People with ADD are easily distracted and wandering attention makes it difficult for them to stay on track.  ADD can have a devastating effect in school, at work, and in family relationships when you have a problem sustaining attentiveness.

Does this exist in our spiritual lives? Is spiritual ADD a concern? We are more easily distracted from the important issues of our lives moment by moment. The nature of the digital world is that we are endlessly distracted. These distractions often keep us from focusing on God. Our minds wander and we have trouble focusing on the things that matter most.

Sustained attentiveness to God is one of the hardest things for us to do, largely because it is a discipline that has gone by the wayside in our culture. We live in the era of sound bites and social media, consuming an endless stream of content without ever pausing to reflect upon it or weigh its merits or significance. As soon as we see it, we double tap to like and quickly swipe on the next thing. While this may be fine for online habits, this is not a recipe to follow for a deep and substantial life with God.

The Bible communicates very clearly that we need to focus on our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But life happens so fast in the 21st Century that staying focused on God in today’s ever-changing world is not easy. Jesus had an incredible ability to stay on target. His ability to focus is a strong characteristic of His life. His life never got off track. From the day Jesus started His ministry, He was relentlessly focused on one task – the task that mattered – to reconcile mankind back to Himself again by opening up a way of salvation. He was so focused that His final words were, “It is finished.” (John 19:30)

So how do we have that same type of focus? Reading Hebrews 12:2 reminds us to take our eyes off ourselves and our circumstances and fix them squarely on Christ. Because our focus determines our direction. When we look at ourselves, we see our weaknesses, past failures, and the many excuses we make.

“I want to take my focus off myself and focus on God. It’s like setting your spiritual compass so no matter which way you turn during the day, whatever comes up, then my thoughts go back to Him and whatever He said that morning.” – Anne Graham Lotz.

Discussion Questions

  1. What types of things cause you to get spiritually sidetracked? 
  2. How do you refocus to get back on track?


As the salt flavors every drop in the Atlantic, so does sin affect every atom of our nature. It is so sadly there, so abundantly there, that if you cannot detect it, you are deceived. ~ Charles H. Spurgeon.

The race for the 2024 elections has begun. Several days ago eight Republican presidential candidates gathered for the first primary debate of the 2024 cycle, offering Americans one of their first major chances to start weighing who will be the GOP standard bearer next year. The democrats will likewise give the voters the chance to hear what they view as the biggest issues facing our country today.

Some point to education inequality, poverty, racism, lack of economic opportunity for all, security, crime, and war, and climate control as the biggest issues facing our country today. All of those are important issues, but none of those is the biggest issue facing us as Christians today.

Our biggest problem is sin. There is no greater calamity that has fallen upon mankind than the problem of sin. Not surprisingly, the topic of sin is not generally a popular one. However, the Bible speaks about sin throughout the Old and New Testaments. God says that we have all sinned. “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23). 1 John 1:8 adds, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” Sin is a reality that is a part of all our lives. We all sin, we are all sinful.

The Bible talks a lot about sin. But more importantly, it also talks a lot about the answer to sin. That’s exactly who Jesus is: the answer. The message of the Bible is that Jesus Christ was perfect and sinless. He is declared in the pages of Scripture to be God. He is uniquely qualified by His perfection to stand as a substitute for humanity’s sin problem. “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Jesus suffered the penalty we deserved. His death now makes it possible for a righteous God to forgive our sins and offer us salvation. Jesus Christ suffered the excruciating horror of a torturous death of which all mankind was deserving. He died on the cross willingly to give people throughout the ages the opportunity to be reconciled to God.

“Why would God do this for me?” John 3:16 answers that question:“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). 

The Good News of the gospel is the solution to our biggest problem.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What are some euphemisms people use today for sin (e.g. “white lies”)? Why do you think people use them?
  2. What can we do this week to sin less?


“We cannot suppress our souls’ appetite for what is awe-inspiring. The goal is not to mute all smartphone media but to feed ourselves on the right media. We were created to behold, see, taste, and delight in the richness of God’s glory…Our insatiable appetite for viral videos, memes, and tweets is the product of an appetite for glory that God gave us. And he created a delicious world of media marvels so that we may delight in, embrace, and cherish anything that is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, or worthy of praise. “ – Tony Reinke, 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You.

Smartphones create an interesting paradox. On one hand, people lament that smartphones make us more self-focused, short-tempered, less able to interact with real people, eager for the approval of others, and unable to read and communicate in-depth while, on the other hand, they believe they are essential: the smartphones are there to wake them in the morning, there to play their music library, there to keep their calendar, there to capture their life in pics and video, there for them to play games, and there as their ever-present portal to Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Smartphones are such a part of daily life, that people rarely think self-reflectively about them. The smartphone can be put to good use spiritually as well.

There are advantages to handwritten Bible notes, but there are also just as many, if not more, advantages to taking digital Bible notes. When it comes time to do some serious Bible study, digital technology gives you several significant advantages compared to the handwritten alternative. Almost every smartphone has a built-in app that lets you record audio. This can be a useful tool for helping you capture your thoughts about Scripture. For example, you could create a summary for each book of the Bible. It doesn’t have to be theologically detailed, just something that will aid your understanding.

You can also make audio recordings of your thoughts and insights after your daily Bible reading. By labeling and organizing them by chapter and verse, you can easily create commentaries and study tools to help you remember what you’ve learned.  Attaching your notes to a book, chapter, or verse is great because it means your notes are visible to you as you read the Bible. In many ways, it’s like a study Bible where you can glance down at the bottom half of the page to read the commentator’s notes.

Another advantage of digital Bible notes is their ability to be searched in a matter of seconds. Just imagine the process if you were to do this with your written notes. First, you would need to have some method of cataloging your information so you can find it. You’d then have to find the notebook, flip to the section, scan, and find your reference. With digital notes, you can perform the same search with little to no effort, because the computer does all the work for you. You don’t have to remember where or how you organized that note. All you need to remember is a word, phrase, or passage from your note and you can perform a search.

Finally, you can backup and store digital Bible notes in multiple places. Why is this important? Because physical notebooks can be lost or ruined.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you have a bible note-taking system that works for you? Have you tried to use a digital note-taking system? Why or why not?


“And he built structures on the walls of Jerusalem, designed by experts to protect those who shot arrows and hurled large stones from the towers and the corners of the wall. His fame spread far and wide, for the Lord gave him marvelous help, and he became very powerful.” – 2 Chronicles 26:15.

Many Christians remain perplexed about modern technology. New iPhones and social media platforms, self-driving cars, and huge engineering projects all prove that human innovation is not slowing down for anyone.

Technology has played a big role in our lives, and as it continues to evolve, it will only become more popular. So, it is your responsibility to stay up-to-date with technology and use it for good. Technology is not the problem, how we use it is. The way we choose to use it and how often determines if it’s good or bad, and helpful or harmful.

Is it bad to spend all that time staring at those high-resolution glossy screens? Studies indicate too much technology can sometimes be a bad thing but there is another side to that coin: The use of computers and smartphones allows us to communicate with anyone, anywhere in the world, in seconds. If you don’t have time to run to the bank or the post office to pay a bill, no problem. Online banking allows you to pay bills, transfer money, and even deposit checks now. And most importantly, the technology in your hand can help you grow closer to God and other people. Technology can be a helpful tool in your Christian life.

For example, Christians have unbelievable access to resources today when studying the Bible. You can look up different translations, definitions, and commentaries to help you get more out of a Bible reading. You can also use the internet to listen to sermons or podcasts that enrich your life.  Technology makes us worship God’s wisdom: It’s God’s mind that conceived computers, radio waves, fiber optics, light, electricity, magnetism, space travel, rocket fuel, etc. Behind every good invention and ingenious design is The Inventor and the Designer.

Technology makes us worship God’s power: It’s mind-blowing to think of the amount of energy that technology uses every day and yet that’s a microscopic portion of God’s great power.

The story of God’s glory is still unfolding regardless of the technology around us. Whether talking about developers inventing new apps in a data center, automated manufacturing robots churning out electric cars, or the eager consumers of these new products and services, human technology serves God’s final purpose for His creation. Science and technology exist by God, through God, and for God. His glory is reflected in every technological advancement.

Technology and smartphones need not be a source of distraction in our lives. Like just about everything else in the world, they can serve as a tool… if we use them well.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How can modern technology’s instant gratification, and distractions distort the life God wants us to experience? Where do these things specifically threaten our walk as Christians?
  2. Technology can distort our sense of significance and offer a weak substitute for meeting our needs apart from God. How can we protect our primary pursuit of God while utilizing tech for its many advantages? In what ways can tech be used to bolster our pursuit of God? Have you seen tech benefit your walk with God in any significant ways?