Let Us Persevere in Our Faith

The book of Hebrews tells us how to react to what God has done for us

An interesting passage in Hebrews opens with a reminder of who we are in Jesus and through Jesus (Hebrews 10:23-25). With this as our perspective, the author tells us four things we should do in response.

Let Us Pursue God: The NIV says to “draw near to God.” I like this imagery of us steadfastly moving toward God, getting closer and closer, almost as though he gently pulls us to him. Though we can accept or reject his supernatural yearning to pull us close, we consent to his attraction when we pursue him.

May we pursue God as if nothing else matters—because nothing else does. We need to do this with a sincere heart and full of faith.

Let Us Hold Onto Hope: Next we need to grasp the hope we claim to have within us. If we say we have hope but don’t act like it, what good is that? Instead our behavior, both in thought and in action, must align with what we believe.

And if we face temptation to waiver in our hope, Hebrews reminds us that he will faithfully give us what he promised. Cling to our hope.

Let Us Encourage One Another: Third is the reminder to encourage each other. While we can nurture many godly traits in others, this passage specifically mentions two: love and good deeds. It’s as if nothing else matters.

We love others in the same way God loves us. He shows us his perfect love and we strive to follow his example. And we help others. Why? Not to get God’s attention or to achieve some agenda, but because he says so.

The practical extension of love is to do kind things for others. Love connects to good deeds.

Let Us Not Isolate Ourselves: We can’t realize all God desires for us if we separate ourselves from his other followers. Together we stay strong. Apart we falter. As the Bible says, “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12).

The oft-quoted text for this is to let us not give up meeting together, which many misapply (read more about this). The point is to hang out with others who follow Jesus. The details of what this looks like is for us to determine.

As followers of Jesus, may we pursue God, cling to hope, offer encouragement, and spend time with each other.

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What Do People Remember About You?

When Paul writes to the church in Thessalonica he professes three things he recalls about them. He remembers them and their characteristics before God, presumably as he prays, offering thanksgiving to God for their lives and the examples they provide.

What Do People Remember About You?Three things stand out as the testimony of the Thessalonian church, their witness to the world around them:

Faithful Work: Their faith in God produces their work. They don’t work for the sake of working or do things just to do things. They work with intentionality because of their faith. They couple actions with belief, with their actions springing forth from their spiritual moorings.

Loving Labor: Their love for others prompts them to help others. They don’t love in name only or in theory, they show their love by their deeds. For them love is a verb. Because of their love, they toil for others, laboring for the benefit of those around them.

Enduring Hope: They persevere because of Jesus, through their hope in him and the promises he offers. This hope inspires their endurance; it motivates them to persist regardless of the situation or circumstances. Their hope propels them forward.

When Paul thinks about this church, this is how he remembers them. He recalls their faith, their love, and their hope. In another letter Paul upholds all three of these ideals and then adds that the greatest of them is love.

What do people remember about us?

How do you love people? Does your faith, love, and hope shine through? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

(1 Thessalonians 1:3, 1 Corinthians 13:13)

What Does it Mean to Have “Fallen Asleep?”

What Does it Mean to Have “Fallen Asleep?”The Bible sometimes uses the quaint phrase “fallen asleep.” It’s a polite way to say that someone died. I smile at this ambiguous language and wonder why Bible writers used a euphemism instead of being direct.

But I think there might be more to it. To say “fallen asleep” is not merely an understated way to communicate that someone’s life is over. It’s a hint that there is another life awaiting us after death, that we will awake to a new kind of existence.

Just as natural sleep is a respite between one day and the next, so too figurative sleep is a transition from one form of life to another. While our body ceases to function, our spirit moves on to a new dimension. And we must first “fall asleep” to make that transition.

When the Bible talks about those who have “fallen asleep,” it’s more than a gracious way to say someone died, it’s the suggestion there is even more to look forward to as we move into the spiritual realm. But first we must sleep; we must die.

How do you view death? Do you have hope in what comes next? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

[Matthew 9:24, Mark 5:39, Luke 8:32, John 11:11, Acts 7:60, Acts 13:36, 1 Corinthians 11:30, 1 Corinthians 15:6, 18, 20, 1 Thessalonians 4:14-15]

A Hint of What is to Come

flowers-in-my-yardLast month I shared that my yard was a blank canvas, a palette of browns awaiting a fresh start. At last, that transformation has begun. Trees have been added, bushes inserted, and plants strategically placed. Grass seed sown, just now showing the fragile green tips of what is to become. Watering has begun in earnest.

My yard is in the process of change, from lifeless to life-filled. What is presently there shows promise, the promise of what is to become. Trees will grow, bushes will flourish, plants will bloom, and grass will thicken into a rich carpet of lush goodness. Change awaits.

At least that is my hope. Until then I can only anticipate what will one day be. However, I can glimpse what is to come. One plant is already displaying its glory. While it will take time to realize the overall landscaping dream for my yard, this one bush now offers a hint of what is to come: a beautiful scene.

So it is with us. Our lives possess potential; we anticipate a better tomorrow. Yet even as we envision what will one day be, if we look carefully enough we can now see hints of our future. Today’s limited beauty foreshadows tomorrow’s complete glory.

Just as I hold on to hope that my life tomorrow will be better than today, I have an ever greater expectancy in the spiritual realm, that today is but a dim reflection of the eternity that awaits.

God gives us hints today of what our future with him will be like. Do we see it?

[This is from the May 2015 issue of Peter DeHaan‘s newsletter. Sign up to receive the complete newsletter each month via email.]

Book Review: Hope for the Flowers

Hope for the Flowers

By Trina Paulus (reviewed by Peter DeHaan)

Hope for the Flowers is a delightful allegory offering messages on multiple levels and applicable to all age groups. It is a short book that can be read in about fifteen minutes and is simply, yet effectively, illustrated by its author Trina Paulus. As such, it can function nicely as a children’s book, as well as a clever and profound teaching tool for teenagers and adults of all ages.

The story chronicles the life pursuits and relationships of two caterpillars, Stripe and Yellow, searching for meaning and purpose in their lives. It is about struggle, yearnings, single-minded focus, diligence, perseverance, making mistakes, enlightenment, letting go, and ultimately…well, let’s not spoil the ending.

This book is a great addition to anyone’s library. Buy two: one to keep and one to give away!

[Hope for the Flowers, by Trina Paulus. Published by Paulist Press, 1973, ISBN: 978-0809117543, 160 pages.]

Read more book reviews by Peter DeHaan.

What Does Perfect Love Do?

As we struggle with the paradox of fearing God and loving God, there’s another thought on the subject.

John writes that “perfect love drives out fear.”

Perfect love never fails. Perfect love is love that’s without fault, consistent and always present. God embodies perfect love.

Paul gives us a list of what love is and isn’t. Love is:

  • patient
  • kind
  • not envious
  • not boastful
  • not proud
  • not rude
  • not self-seeking
  • not easily angered
  • forgetting the mistakes of others
  • not delighting in evil
  • rejoicing over truth
  • offering protection
  • trusting
  • hopeful
  • persevering
  • never failing

This is love, perfect love, and it drives away fear.

[1 John 4:18, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8]

Book Review: Heaven is for Real

Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back

By Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent (reviewed by Peter DeHaan)

Not yet four years old, Colton Burpo’s life was slipping away. His burst appendix was misdiagnosed and left untreated for days. Now it was likely too late to save him. His parents’ prayers became more desperate as Colton’s time on earth wound down; it was the darkest of times. Others were praying, too, many others. Then overnight, Colton made a dramatic and unexpected turnaround. “A miracle,” said medical personnel.

This was dramatic enough, but what he naively revealed in the weeks and months that followed were even more so. As his life ebbed away, little Colton left his body and visited heaven. There Jesus held him and comforted him, eventually telling him it was time to return; his daddy needed him. While there, Colton also spent time with his great grandfather who died a quarter of a century prior and a sister his mother miscarried. He learned of things no one had ever told him and corroborated obscure biblical details that were otherwise beyond his comprehension.

As the story develops, many more extraordinary revelations unfold as Colton shares his supernatural experience with childlike simplicity and unwavering conviction. His story is eventually recorded in this credible chronicle so people would know “heaven is for real.”

Heaven is for Real is a quick read and an engaging narrative, offering hope and confirmation of the afterlife revealed in the Bible. Read it for its story; read it to be inspired; read it so you will know heaven is for real.

[Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back, by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent. Published by Thomas Nelson, 2010; ISBN: 978-0-8499-4615-8; 163 pages.]

Read more book reviews by Peter DeHaan.

Don’t Worry or Be Anxious

The news has been bad lately — and there is seemingly little hope in sight.

The global economy is bad, there is a credit crisis, the US automotive industry is in trouble, unemployment is increasing, many of those with jobs are concerned, and a turnaround seems a long ways off.

But in the big picture, this has happened before and will happen again.

Jesus puts it into a proper perspective for us:

“I tell you, do not worry about your life,
what you will eat; or
about your body, what you will wear.
Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.
But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given
to you as well.”


[Luke 12:22, 23, 31]

Are You At the End of Your Rope?

Imagine you are going down the side of a 200-foot cliff — with a 100-foot rope. At 99 feet down, you find yourself literally dangling “at the end of your rope.”

At the End of Your RopeWhat an apt metaphor for a hopeless situation. At this juncture, there are but three options — none of them good:

  1. Try to climb back up (which is physically impossible for most people)
  2. Hang on as long as you can in hopes of an eventual rescue
  3. Give up and let go.

Eugene Peterson uses this powerful “end of the rope” image in his paraphrase of the Bible, which puts ancient thoughts into contemporary terms. Consider the following “end of the rope” references from The Message:

  • “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope.” (Matthew 5:3)
  • “The owner was at the end of his rope. He decided to send his son. ‘Surely,’ he thought, ‘they will respect my son.'” ([Matthew 21:35)
  • “When someone gets to the end of his rope, I [Paul] feel the desperation in my bones.” (2 Corinthians 11:28)
  • “Hurry up and help us; we’re at the end of our rope. You’re famous for helping; God, give us a break.” (Psalm 79:8)
  • “Your anger [God] is far and away too much for us; we’re at the end of our rope. You keep track of all our sins; every misdeed since we were children is entered in your books.” (Psalm 90:3)
  • “Oh, God, my Lord, step in; work a miracle for me—you can do it! Get me out of here—your love is so great!— I’m at the end of my rope, my life in ruins.” (Psalm 109:21)
  • “God takes the side of the helpless; when I was at the end of my rope, he saved me.” (Psalm 116:1)
  • “Hurry with your answer, God! I’m nearly at the end of my rope. Don’t turn away; don’t ignore me! That would be certain death.” (Psalm 143:7)

When we are at the end of our rope — and it happens to all of us sooner or later — God is there to rescue us; so don’t give up.

God can help in a number of ways, either directly or indirectly: a timely visit from a friend, some encouraging advice, the perfect Bible verse, or a visit with a pastor or counselor.TheHopeLine

But not everyone has these options. If that’s you and you’re at the end the your rope, reach out to TheHopeLine, staffed by Christian HopeCoaches. They will listen, offering understanding, encouragement, and prayer, along with practical resources to help move you in the right direction.