Our Faith in His Love Conquers Sin! (Genesis 4:1-16)

Sermon for the 6th Sunday of Easter (5/25/14)

Text: Genesis 4:1-16

Theme: Our Faith in His Love Conquers Sin!

            What do you know about Pandora? No, I’m not talking about the online radio station. I’m talking about Pandora the person?

I’m sure you all have heard the phrase “opening Pandora’s Box,” and I’m sure many of you know that the phrase comes from Greek Mythology. For those of you who may not know the story, here’s a cliff’s notes version of Pandora:

Zeus wanted to punish the Titan Prometheus for giving the humans things only the gods were supposed to have – most notably, fire. So he concocted a plan to punish humans. Zeus created the first woman, Pandora, and gave her to Prometheus’ brother for a wife. He gifted Pandora with all sorts of special qualities like beauty, kindness, and patience. One special quality he created Pandora with was curiosity. When he gave Pandora to Prometheus’ brother he gave them, as a wedding gift, a box with the instructions not to open it until he said it was ok. This was all part of Zeus’ plan you see. He knew that the curiosity he had given Pandora would make it impossible for her to leave the box closed. Well, as Zeus planned, one fateful day, Pandora opened up her box and these ghastly figures came flying out. She tried to slam it shut again, but it was too late. She had opened the box and released evil into the world of humans.

Do you know what I find fascinating about the myth of Pandora ’s Box? I find it fascinating that the story of Pandora provides us with one more evidence from this world of what God calls the conscience. It’s just a fact that all people from all time have looked at this world and realized there is something wrong with it. People from all around the world have looked at this world full of tragedies, heartbreak, and sorrow and they just know that it is not supposed to be this way. People keep on doing bad things themselves, even though they know they are wrong – and they know that they are not supposed to be this way. People just know that we are not supposed to be as angry and jealous and envious and lustful as we so often are. So for all time, people have been trying to find a way to explain or fix the problems of this world. Pandora’s Box is just one of many proposed explanations for how this world got so evil.

Pandora’s Box is a fanciful explanation for the evil in this world, but obviously not the correct explanation, right? You and I know the real Biblical story. And you and I know that the real story is much more heartbreaking than this Greek Mythology, don’t we?

We know that the sin of Adam and Eve was the real Pandora’s Box. When they were tempted by the devil they introduced into this world sin and evil. Evil that made every day a struggle to survive. Evil that made them feel things like pain, anger and jealousy. Evil that would lead one of their own sons to kill his brother out of that jealousy. Evil that would cause heartbreak like they had never experienced before – heartbreak caused by death, the end result of sin.

Friends, there is a lot we need to learn from this account of Cain and Abel. These first chapters of Genesis are the only thing in this world that adequately explains why the world is the way it is. These chapters are the only thing in the world that adequately explain why people hurt each other the way they do. These chapters are the only thing in the world that adequately explain why we are the way we are.

I don’t know about you, but when I was growing up I always read this account of Cain and Abel and felt shocked. I mean, I had no delusion of perfection. I know I am a sinner. But I look at this account and thank my stars that at least I’m not like Cain, right? I mean Cain fits right into that category of psychotic killers like Ted Bundy, the Sandy Hook Shooter, or the Boston Marathon Bombers, right? I may not be perfect, but at least I’m not that kind of crazy, right?

But then I re-read this account, especially God’s warning to Cain and I start to see a little more of myself – so much so at times that it makes my skin crawl.

When faced with temptation God tells Cain, “If you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” Unfortunately, even though Cain knew it was wrong, even though he had been warned by God himself that he was being tempted and tested, the sinful heart Cain inherited from his parents got the better of him. Cain sinned, even though he knew it was wrong.

Friends, do you ever know something is wrong, but do it anyway?

Have you ever had your patience tested by your children or that jerk at work? Have you ever felt that anger building up inside of you? Have you ever realized that you were being tempted to be short, to lose your temper, to get angry? Have you ever recognized sin crouching at your door, desiring to have you and not ruled over it? Have you ever allowed sin to rule over you?

It happens every day, doesn’t it? As Christians we know what is right, and we know what is wrong. We have the Ten Commandments. We study God’s word on a regular basis. So every time we sin, we essentially do the exact same thing Cain did. We have been warned by God that sin is wrong. We have been warned by God that sin and the Devil are crouching at our door waiting to devour us. We have been warned by God that we will be tempted and tested in this world. But so often, just like Cain, we failed to rule over sin, and let sin call the shots in our lives.

It is a sad, but inescapable fact that the Biblical Pandora’s Box has been opened. Sin has entered the world, and with it evil. And this evil isn’t something that has only affected the world around us. This evil has worked its way in into our very being. We were born with it. We were born with this obnoxious, but remarkably tempting voice that wants to rule over us and drag us to hell.

It’s a sad, but inescapable fact that there is something terribly wrong with this world. There is something terribly wrong with us. We know it, the world knows it, the ancient Greeks knew it. It’s that law written on our hearts, that conscience that God has given us so that when we look at the world we know just as surely as Adam and Eve knew that “this is not how this world was supposed to be. This is not how I am supposed to be, and I’m going to have to answer for that.”

And you know what? I’m thankful for that. I’m thankful that the law and the conscience are doing their job. I’m thankful because the Bible tells us that God gave us the law in our hearts, God gave us a conscience, God gave us this conviction that the world isn’t right so that we would look for a way to fix this world – so that we would look for someone, like God, who could save us from ourselves.

And this is where we leave Cain behind this morning. Yes, we share some remarkable and heartbreaking similarities with Cain in our sinfulness, but for all the similarities, there are also some incredibly important differences.

The biggest difference between us and Cain is the same thing that made Abel different from Cain. It’s that little word but incredibly huge concept called faith – faith that God can and will save.

Faith is what made Abel’s offering acceptable to God, but not Cain’s. It’s not that Abel never lost his battles with the sin that was crouching at his door. Abel was accepted by God because he trusted in the promises of God – the promise God made immediately after Adam and Eve opened the Biblical Pandora’s Box – the promise to fix this broken world.

To use the Bible’s language, “By faith Abel offered a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was commended as a righteous man, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith he still speaks, even though he is dead.”

Abel didn’t earn the love of God. Abel, on his own, didn’t deserve to have his offering accepted by God. Abel didn’t deserve the right to leave this broken world behind for a perfect home in heaven. But God offered it to him, just as God has offered it to every other person who ever lived, and Abel believed. He simply trusted that God would keep his promise, and that faith (that trust) made Abel righteous in God’s sight – it made Abel and his offering acceptable.

Friends your faith, your God-given faith, takes you from the realm of Cain, and makes you acceptable like Abel. When I proclaim to you, as I did just a few minutes ago in the confession and absolution that your sins are forgiven because of what Jesus did, and you trust that forgiveness is real, the solution to this broken world, the solution to your broken heart is placed right in your lap. Your sins are forgiven, you are acceptable to God, because of Jesus.

This broken world has been fixed, you have been fixed. Those nail marks in that living Man’s hands and feet prove it. He died so that you might live forever in heaven. And He lives so that he can bring you safely there, just like he did Abel.

And just like it did for Abel, that forgiveness will move you and I to make sacrifices/offerings that are pleasing to our God. Not sacrifices of lambs, because none of you are farmers, but sacrifices none the less. No, instead of lambs for us, our sacrifices come in the form of love – the kind of love that John talked about in 1 John 3. Love for our brothers and sisters. Love that is more than just words, but love backed up by actions. Selfless love, because that’s the kind of love God showed us.

Just like it did for Abel, the love of God equips us to rule over the sin that crouches at all of our doors.

Look this side of eternity, this world is never going to be perfect, you and I are never going to be perfect. The Biblical Pandora’s Box has been opened. But we have a God who has promised to fix this world – who has promised to fix us. Have faith in that God, and let that faith move you to live for that God. Our faith in His love will conquer sin.

Amen.

Articles 7 & 8 of the Augsburg Confession

???????????????????????Article 7 “Of the Church”:

Our churches teach that the one holy Church is to remain forever. The Church is the congregation of saints in which the Gospel is purely taught and the Sacraments are correctly administered. For the true unity of the Church it is enough to agree about the doctrine of the Gospel and the administration of the Sacraments. It is not necessary that human traditions, that is, rites or ceremonies instituted by men, should be the same everywhere. As Paul says, “One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all” (Ephesians 4:5-6).

I look around at America today and I can’t help but be a little sad. I read articles (like this one) that point out that almost 20% of Americans claim no religious affiliation at all, and my heart breaks. I can’t help but get upset when I see TV shows trashing God’s idea of a family with their own “modern” version of a family. I can’t help but be angry when I hear that a quarter of babies conceived in America are murdered (that’s one out of every four people!).

I look around and I suppose I feel kind of like Elijah the prophet of God.

As America continues down the road it is on, it will be important for Christians to keep in mind the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 19.

We need to remember what not to do. It’s ok to be angry when babies are murdered. It’s ok to hate sin. It’s ok to turn to God when the troubles of this world threaten to get you down. It’s not ok to let a seeming increase in sin and godlessness make us loose hope, worry, or pout the way Elijah did.

It’s not ok to pout or worry because God is still in control. “Our churches teach that the holy Church is to remain forever” not because the people in the Church spent their time wringing their hands in fear and worry but because the God of heaven and earth promises it will.

So take heart friends. No matter how bad this world gets, the Church will remain. No matter how bad it gets, our God will still be at work shepherding souls to heaven.

 

Article 8 “What the Church Is”:

Strictly speaking, the Church is the congregation of saints and true believers. However, because many hypocrites and evil persons are mingled within them in this life, it is lawful to use Sacraments administered by evil men, according to the saying of Christ, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat” (Matthew 23:2). Both the Sacraments and Word are effective because of Christ’s institution and command, even if they are administered by evil men.

Our churches condemn the Donatists, and others like them, who deny that it is lawful to use the ministry of evil men in the Church, and who think that the ministry of evil men is not useful and is ineffective.

Donatists: Followers of Donatus the Great who claimed that another pastor’s role was not godly because he had been consecrated by a man who later was shown to be a heretic.

This may come as a surprise to you, but it’s important that you know: Your pastor is not perfect – not even close. Sometimes he will put his foot in his mouth. Sometimes he will say or do something that offends you. Sometimes he will think and act in a selfish way. Sometimes he will wake up and loose some of his battles with the devil and come off as less than the perfectly cordial man you expect him to be.

This may come as a surprise to you, but it’s important that you know: That person sitting next to you in church is not perfect – not even close. Sometimes they will wake up on the wrong side of the bed and give you the cold shoulder. Sometimes their sinful heart will get the better of them and they will say something hurtful. Sometimes they will act as anything but Christians.

This may come as a surprise to you, but it’s important that you know: There are some people in visible church buildings (both pastor’s and members) that will not be in heaven. There are some people just pretending to believe the same thing you do. There are some people in the grasp of the devil sitting in pews and standing behind pulpits all across America.

Those facts may be uncomfortable to think of. They may be hard to swallow – I know they are for me. But that doesn’t change the fact that they are true. They are true because Jesus says they are true.

But here is one last think that you need to know: The Word of God is still the power of God whether it is preached by a hypocrite pastor or a saintly pastor. The water and words of Baptism still has the clout to wash your sins away. The bread and wine, the body and blood of the Supper still has the ability to forgive you your sins.

I know that, you can know that, because they rely not on my power, or your power, but on God’s power – and God’s power won’t ever let you down.

These two articles present us with a good opportunity to thank God, don’t they? They give us the opportunity to thank God because he will keep his true word active in this world through the Church. They give us opportunity to thank God because he will continue to work through his word in this world.

Once You Were Not His People… Now You Are! (1 Peter 2:4-10)

Sermon for the 5th Sunday in Easter (5/18/14)

Text: 1 Peter 2:4-10

Theme: Once you were not HIS people… Now you are!

This last week on the radio I heard the most popular baby names for 2013. In Virginia, William was the top for boys and Sophia for girls. Nationwide, Noah was the top for boys and Sophia for girls.

Those of you who are parents know that choosing a name is a big deal. It’s something you take seriously because you know that a name is important – you know that whatever name you choose will be the name of that child for life. It’s one of those exciting aspects of parenthood that fills your conversations and thoughts.  Some of the big criteria are: It has to sound good, right? It has to flow with the middle name, can’t sound too choppy. Most parents want their child’s name to be more interesting and unique than John Doe, but not so unique that it is easily mocked like “Candy Apple Hoff” – so somewhere in the middle on that spectrum.

Picking names for your kids is a fun thing, it’s an exciting thing, it helps set the mood of eager anticipation when you expecting.

One name for a little boy that I could never get Laura to bit on, no matter how much of a hard-sell I gave it was, “Lo-Ammi.” What’s not to love right? It just flows right off the tongue, “Lo-Ammi Hoff.” Ok, maybe it’s not the best name…

But do you know where that name comes from? Lo-Ammi comes from the life of the Old Testament prophet Hosea. If you haven’t read the Bible’s book of Hosea recently, I’d encourage you to do it this week. Hosea’s life is easily one of the most fascinating to me in the Bible. If there was one Old Testament prophet that I would want to sit down and have dinner with, Hosea would be right up there. Continue reading

Articles 6 & 20 of the Augsburg Confession

???????????????????????Article 6: Our churches teach that this faith is bound to bring forth good fruit. It is necessary to do good works commanded by God, because of God’s will. We should not rely on those works to merit justification before God. The forgiveness of sins and justification is received through faith. The voice of Christ testifies, “So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’” The Fathers teach the same thing. Ambrose says, “It is ordained of God the he who believes in Christ is saved, freely receiving forgiveness of sins, without works, through faith alone.”

 

I’m just gonna come out and say it. I do not enjoy writing thank you cards….

There, I said it. I got if off my chest.

I’ve never liked writing thank you’s. It’s not because I’m not thankful, I just find it an artificial form of thanks. I would much rather tell a person “thank you” to their face, and show them my thanks  by my loving actions, than write a card that will go almost directly from their mailbox to the nearest trash receptacle. Also, (probably because of my stubbornness) I’ve never particularly liked “that’s how we’ve always done it,” as a reason to do anything.

Again, this is not because I am not thankful, nor does it mean that I do not find value in saying “thank you!” I do question the value of thanking a person with a few hastily scribbled words on some generic thank you card. I do not question the value of thanks. When someone loves you, it is right and proper to love them back out of thanks. When someone gives you a gift, it is right and proper to thank them.

Article 6 of the Augsburg Confession is all about the thanks that should and does naturally flow out of a person when they have been given a gift.

In the previous articles we have looked at the very Lutheran (the very Biblical) facts that we get to heaven only through faith in what Jesus has done for us. It has nothing to do with hard work. You don’t have to earn any of it. When you die, the reason heaven will be open to you is because of this little gift called “grace.” Grace – the undeserved love and forgiveness of God that you did nothing to earn.

A common complaint against this free gift of heaven is that it would make people lazy – it would enable them to live lives full of sin because they know tomorrow they can just ask for forgiveness.

The problem with this kind of complaint is that it fails to take into account the power of this little thing called “grace.” The love of God does a lot more than just forgive us our sins. God’s love, recorded in the Bible, has a power of its own. It has the power to change people like us – people who on our own would use grace as a license to sin. Grace changes us from the inside out.

When you hear and believe the love of God in Jesus it creates something new inside of you – it creates the overwhelming desire to say “thank you!” Faith leads to thanks not in only words, but also in actions.

The point is this.

When you have the gift of God sitting in your lap, you will do good works.

When you prune an apple tree properly, water it as needed, plant it in rich soil, and give it plenty of sunlight, it will produce fruit – that’s just what an apple tree does, it makes apples.

When your soul is regularly immersed in the word of God, when you sing about, pray about, and read about the love of God in Jesus, your soul will produce fruit – that’s just what a blood-bought soul does, it makes fruit, it does good works to say thank you for the gift of God.

Article 6 goes closely hand-in-hand with Article 20. Please take the time to read it. The language may be old, it may require you to reread and ponder certain points, but it’s worth your time. It’s worth it because it teaches the Word of God.

Article 20: Our teachers are falsely accused of forbidding good works. Their published writings on the Ten Commandments, and other similar writings, bear witness that they have usefully taught about all estates and duties of life. They have taught well what is pleasing to God in every station and vocation in life. Before now, preachers taught very little about these things. They encouraged only childish and needless works, such as particular holy days, particular fasts, brotherhoods, pilgrimages, services in honor of the saints, the use of rosaries, monasticism, and such things. Since our adversaries have been admonished about these things, they are now unlearning them. They do not preach these unhelpful works as much as they used to. In the past, there was only stunning silence about faith, but now they are beginning to mention it. They do not teach that we are justified only by works. They join faith and works together, and say that we are justified by faith and works. This teaching is more tolerable than the former one. It can offer more consolation than their old teaching.

The doctrine about faith, which ought to be the chief doctrine in the Church, has remained unknown for so long. Everyone has to admit that there was the deepest silence in their sermons concerning the righteousness of faith. They only taught about works in the churches. This is why our teachers teach the churches about faith in this way.

First, they teach that our works cannot reconcile God to us or merit forgiveness of sins, grace and justification. We obtain reconciliation only by faith when we believe that we are received into favor for Christ’s sake. He alone has been set forth as Mediator and Atoning Sacrifice, in order that the Father may be reconciled through him. Therefore, whoever believes that he merits grace by works despises the merit and grace of Christ. In so doing, he is seeking a way to God without Christ, by human strength, although Christ himself said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.”

This doctrine about faith is presented everywhere by Paul, “By grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God.”

If anyone wants to be tricky and say that we have invented a new interpretation of Paul, this entire matter is supported by the testimony of the Fathers. Augustine defends grace and the righteousness of faith in many volumes against the merits of works. Ambrose, in his book The Calling of the Gentiles, and elsewhere, teaches the same thing. In The Calling of the Gentiles he says, “Redemption by Christ’s blood would be worth very little, and God’s mercy would not surpass man’s works, if justification, which is accomplished through grace, were due to prior merits. So justification would not be the free gift from a donor, but the reward due the laborer.”

Spiritually inexperienced people despise this teaching. However, God-fearing and anxious consciences find by experience that it brings the greatest consolation. Consciences cannot be set at rest through any works, but only by faith, when they take the sure ground that for Christ’s sake they have a gracious God. As Paul teaches, “Since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God.” This whole doctrine must be related to the conflict of the terrified conscience. It cannot be understood apart from that conflict. Therefore, inexperienced and irreverent people have poor judgment in this matter because they dream that Christian righteousness is nothing but civil and philosophical righteousness.

Until now consciences were plagued with the doctrine of works. They did not hear consolation from the gospel. Some people were driven by conscience into the desert and into monasteries, hoping to merit grace by a monastic life. Some people came up with other works to merit grace and make satisfaction for sins. That is why the need was so great for teaching and renewing the doctrine of faith in Christ, so that anxious consciences would not be without consolation but would know that grace, forgiveness of sins, and justification are received by faith in Christ.

People are also warned that the term faith does not mean simply a knowledge of a history, such as the ungodly and the devil have [James 2:19]. Rather, it means a faith that believes, not merely the history, but also the effect of the history. In other words, it believes this article: the forgiveness of sins. We have grace, righteousness, and forgiveness of sins through Christ.

The person who knows that he has a Father who is gracious to him through Christ truly knows God [John 14:7]. He also knows that God cares for him [1 Peter 5:7], and he calls upon God [Romans 10:13]. In a word, he is not without God, as are the heathen. For devils and the ungodly are not able to believe this article: the forgiveness of sins. Hence, they hate God as an enemy [Romans 8:7] and do not call him [Romans 3:11-12] and expect no good from him. Augustine also warns his readers about the word faith and teaches that the term is used in scriptures, not for knowledge that is in the ungodly, but for the confidence that consoles and encourages the terrified mind.

Furthermore, we teach that it is necessary to do good works. This does not mean that we merit grace by doing good works, but because it is God’s will [Ephesians 2:10]. It is only by faith, and nothing else, that forgiveness of sins is apprehended. The Holy Spirit is received through faith, hearts are renewed and given new affections, and then they are able to bring forth good works. Ambrose says: “Faith is the mother of a good will and doing what is right.” Without the Holy Spirit people are full of ungodly desires. They are too weak to do works that are good in God’s sight [John 15:5]. Besides, they are in the power of the devil, who pushes human beings into various sins, ungodly opinions, and open crimes. We see this in the philosophers, who, although they tried to live an honest life could not succeed, but were defiled with many open crimes. Such is human weakness, without faith and without the Holy Spirit, when governed only by human strength.

Therefore, it is easy to see that this doctrine is not to be accused of banning good works. Instead, it is to be commended all the more because it shows how we are enabled to do good works. For without faith, human nature cannot, in any way, do the works of the First of Second Commandment [1 Corinthians 2:14]. Without faith, human nature does not call upon God, nor expect anything from him, nor bear the cross [Matthew 16:24]. Instead, human nature seeks and trusts in human help. So when there is no faith and trust in God, all kinds of lusts and human intentions rule in the heart [Genesis 6:5]. This is why Christ says, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” That is why the Church sings: “Lacking your divine favor, there is nothing in man. Nothing in him is harmless.”

 

The LORD Your Shepherd Protects What Is His (1 Samuel 17:34-37)

Sermon for the 4th Sunday of Easter (5/11/14)

Text: 1 Samuel 17:34-37

Theme: The LORD your Shepherd Protects What Is His!

            He was a 160lb, lean muscled senior – once state champion runner up and once state champion in the 160lbs weight class. He had been wrestling since first or second grade. He was fit. He was strong. He was smart. He was experience. He was skilled.

I, on the other hand, was a 150lb sophomore. I had been wrestling for about a month. I was wrestling in the 160lb weight class because that meant I could wrestle varsity. I was small. I was not experience. I was not skilled.

One fateful day, that 160lb wrestling freak and I squared off. I’ll never forget my coach’s inspirational speech before I stepped out on that mat. “Jacob,” he said, “just don’t make him angry. He will probably just play with you for a round or so, and then pin you. But if you make him angry, it won’t be fun for anyone.”

And so, being thoroughly inspired by my coach, I marched onto that mat confident of one thing, and one thing only. I was about to lose… and lose I did.

It’s common sense, right? A 150lb novice doesn’t stand a chance against a 160lb professional.

Now what would you think of me if, after that inspirational speech by my coach, I strutted out to that mat – shoulders back, head held high – I looked that other guy in the eye and in all seriousness said, “You ready to loose, buddy?”…

Now put yourself in Saul’s shoes. What must he have been thinking? Here this little pip-squeak of a shepherd boy David is talking about taking on Goliath – a man among men, over 9ft tall, a man who had been fighting since he could walk. Continue reading

This World Is Not Your Home (1 Peter 1:17-21)

Sermon for 3rd Sunday of Easter (5/4/14)

Text: 1 Peter 1:17-21

Theme: This World Is Not Your Home!

            The summer after I graduated from college I went on an amazing trip. Three college buddies and I went on a week-long backcountry camping trip in Glacier National Park. For one whole week we hiked up and down mountains, across streams, under waterfalls, we slept under the stars at 10,000 ft, cut wood, started fires, and busied ourselves with a whole assortment of generally manly tasks.

It was an amazing experience, one I would love to do again. We went whole days without seeing another human. We got up-close and personal with mountain goats, marmots, and a black bear. We saw mountain valleys full of fragrant wildflowers. We stood beside cool, calm glacial lakes reflecting the mountains above. We had our breath taken away by one vista after another. We marveled at God’s creation as the sun cast it’s last shades of orange and yellow and red from behind majestic peaks.

I think back to that trip and a burning starts in my belly. I want to go back! There was a place where I was happy, in one week we didn’t even see an eighth of that amazing park, there is so much more to see, so much more to do. Glacier National Park is a place I wouldn’t mind calling home.

It can’t help but think of that trip as a little snapshot of what life in this world is like.

I look around at what this world has to offer, and I’m impressed. I’m impressed by white sand beaches, clear blue skies, wide open prairies, sky-piercing mountains, and never ending oceans. I look at this world and I see a place I wouldn’t mind calling home because it has so much to offer.

I look around at Northern Virginia and all it has to offer, and I’m impressed. I’m impressed by the quiet, beautiful suburbs with miles of trails to walk with my family, play grounds for my kids, pools to stay cool in the summer. I’m impressed with the beauty of spring, the flowers, the warmth, the contagious feeling of the world coming to life again after winter. I’m impressed by the never ending list of places to go and things to see. I look at Northern Virginia and I see a place I wouldn’t mind calling home because it has so much to offer.

I look at my life as it stands today, and I’m impressed. I get to begin and end every day next to a woman who loves me. I get to come home to cries of “daddy” and the ground-shaking stampede of little feet running to get a hug and a kiss. I look at this family that God has given me and I see a place I wouldn’t mind calling home because it has so much to offer.

But then, just when I am getting comfortable in this beautiful creation, Peter’s words ring out, “Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear.” Continue reading