The Need


Last night I was reading through God’s Word, while I walked around Brown’s Island here in downtown Richmond.  The Lord placed the number 444 in front of me.  This number has shown up in the most random places in my life over the past year.  I have been driving down the road, listening to music, and all of a sudden look at my clock in the car and it says 4:44.  I have gone to the store to grab something quick to eat.  I go to the cash register to pay, and how much does it cost? —$4.44.  I have been out for a jog.  When I get back, I look at my tracker, which tells me how far I have gone, and I have literally gone 4.44 miles.   The number seems to be completely and totally random, and since I am not one to grab ahold of numerology, I have simply ignored it. 

Well, last night I was curious.

So I thought to myself, what’s the fourth book of the NT?  The Gospel of John.

What about the fourth chapter and the fourth verse—let’s see what that says: “But He needed to go through Samaria.”  


The 4thchapter of the Gospel of John is the story of the woman at the well.  I have read the story at least 50 times, and each time I do, I always pick up on something different.  There are so many applicable biblical principles that we can utilize as we grow closer to the Lord each day:


  • It shows us the need to address sin in our own lives.
  • It helps us to recognize that we can’t hide sin from God because He knows everything.
  • It reminds us that no matter where we are in our faith walk with the Lord, we should always be willing to share with others.
  • It reminds us that we don’t need to be ashamed of our past, because God can use us.
  • It even shows us that God can do miracles my changing the hearts and lives of so many in that city that day.


With all of that insight, and all of those great biblical points being made, I never once paid attention to the depth of what we see in v.4—“But He needed to go through Samaria”

The word that really stuck out for me last night was the word NEEDED!

I really had to sit and think about that word.  Did Jesus really Need to go through Samaria? Does He really NEED anything?  I couldn’t shake it from my mind.  When I think of needs, I think of air, food, a bed, friendships, etc.  I don’t think of traveling plans.  To me that comes across as a want—like I really want to go to the beach. It’s not that I need to, but I would really like to. 


We also have to look at the history of the people engaged here.  We know Jews and Samaritans were not fond of each other. In fact they really despised each other. And yet Jesus NEEDED to go through there. I walked…, thought…, prayed …  not really sure what that meaning might be. And then, just like the sound of a heavy weight slamming to the ground, it made sense.


I realized that the need wasn’t Jesus’ need.  It was the need of the woman at the well.  It’s the need of each of us.  We are in desperate NEED of Jesus each day, but we often times don’t even recognize it.  So what does He do?  He comes to us, in the midst of our need, knowing that we never would have come to Him in or own strength, so that we see His love and grace.  He needed to go through an area that despised Him so that the truth of Him might be presented to the woman at the well.  


As we continue reading, we see how the story turns out. This woman goes back to town, and tells everyone about Jesus.  The town comes out to see who she is talking about, and many surrender to Christ that day.  


Friends whatever you are going through trust the process.  Trust the plan. And remember that God can use you… God wants to use you… He needs to use you where you are right now so that He is proclaimed. Don’t be afraid. Walk in confidence, not in your ability, but in the power of the Holy Spirit who lives inside you. I am praying for you, and cheering you on!  You are not alone!





This word seems to dominate our culture right now.  Panic is defined as “sudden uncontrollable fear or anxiety, often causing wildly unthinking behavior.”  There are two key parts to this word that make it so dangerous:


First the nature–it is sudden and uncontrollable.  No matter what is happening, this event happens quickly and without the ability of anyone to do anything about it.  There is a complete and total loss of any type of control, and thus an overwhelming sense of helplessness.


Second, the impact—it always causes behavior that does not reflect any sense of understanding or calm. Behaviors don’t make sense, conversations are irrational, and actions are beyond comprehension.  

Too often, when we sense panic in our own lives, in the economy, or even the government, there are those who simply tell us NOT TO PANIC.  Let’s be honest.  That advice never works.  I all we hear someone saying is that they don’t understand what we are going through. 

The Bible addresses the word “Panic”, not simply by telling us not to panic, but by telling us why we have no reason to panic. 


John 14: 27 is one of my favorite verses:

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”


In this passage, Jesus is sharing with his disciples that He will give them the peace that they will so desperately will need.  They don’t quite yet understand the severity of the events that are about to take place, but Christ is already assuring them that they will be okay.  He is letting them know that it will be His strength, and His peace that will guide them.  They need not worry because He will overcome. 


At some point each of us will have to make a decision.  Will we allow fear to dominate our lives and control everything that we do, or will we embrace who Christ is in us and trust Him?  Now don’t get me wrong.  This is one of the most difficult decisions to live out in our lives on a daily basis. It is much easier to say that I won’t be afraid than to actually live out the truth that Christ is living in us, but again it comes down to a decision.  We ALL have to address it.  It is not something that we can avoid, or something that we can pretend doesn’t exist. We have to face it, and in fact, by not facing it, we are in fact answering the question. 


If we look at the schemes of the devil we will recognize that sometimes he likes to use intimidation to control emotions and thoughts. He will manipulate our feelings and in some fashion attempt to make us feel as those we are inadequate in our relationship with Christ.  He event attempted to do that with Jesus.   It is amazing though how Jesus responded—He used all of scripture, and never allowed the devil to intimidate Him. 


I had a writing by C.S. Lewis shared with me  yesterday that clearly and beautifully summarizes our approach to panic:


In one way we think a great deal too much of the atomic bomb. “How are we to live in an atomic age?” I am tempted to reply: “Why, as you would have lived in the sixteenth century when the plague visited London almost every year, or as you would have lived in a Viking age when raiders from Scandinavia might land and cut your throat any night; or indeed, as you are already living in an age of cancer, an age of syphilis, an age of paralysis, an age of air raids, an age of railway accidents, an age of motor accidents.”


In other words, do not let us begin by exaggerating the novelty of our situation. Believe me, dear sir or madam, you and all whom you love were already sentenced to death before the atomic bomb was invented: and quite a high percentage of us were going to die in unpleasant ways. We had, indeed, one very great advantage over our ancestors—anesthetics; but we have that still. It is perfectly ridiculous to go about whimpering and drawing long faces because the scientists have added one more chance of painful and premature death to a world which already bristled with such chances and in which death itself was not a chance at all, but a certainty.


This is the first point to be made: and the first action to be taken is to pull ourselves together. If we are all going to be destroyed by an atomic bomb, let that bomb when it comes find us doing sensible and human things—praying, working, teaching, reading, listening to music, bathing the children, playing tennis, chatting to our friends over a pint and a game of darts—not huddled together like frightened sheep and thinking about bombs. They may break our bodies (a microbe can do that) but they need not dominate our minds.”



The challenge for today is this—when panic fills our mind, let us  remember that we are victorious in Christ Jesus, and that in the end, Christ wins. Remind the devil that he loses, and that you have chosen to surrender to Jesus.  Spend 5 minutes in Christ’s presence.  Let Him embrace you, and comfort you.  Let Him surround you with His grace, heal your wounds, quiet your mind, and steady your heart.  Embrace that time you have with Him. 


Then, for the next 10 minutes, thank Him for who He says that you are. Thank Him that He has made you more than a conqueror.  Thank Him that you serve Him, and are on the winning side.  Thank Him that He is using every situation for your good and His glory! I know it is hard.  I know that things can seem overwhelming at times.  I know that the devil is really good at lying, but rest in the truths of who Christ is.  There is no greater place to be that in His presence!  


Finally, tell a person you are close to, how thankful you are that God has allowed them to be a part of your life!


I am know that God is using you! I see the stories, and the lives that are changed!  Continue to be excited and passionate about Christ!  One day at a time!  I love you all and am praying for you!



What will you refuse to panic about today?


I Don’t Believe It!

I don’t Believe it!
Today, I have to ask you—have you ever said this phrase? –“I don’t believe it!”
At some point or another, those words were uttered out of your mouth or screamed in your head. I remember very vividly saying it several times when I was in my 20’s. The first time was when my wife said she would marry me. The second was when the doctor told me that my twin sons would not live. The third was the day that they were born. The fourth was when my youngest son was born. In my 30’s, I said it when I was blessed to become the pastor here at Berea and meet so many amazing people. Each time I said it, I was filled with emotion. Today, I say it again because in just a few days, my twins will turn 18.
We make that statement whenever we encounter a situation or circumstance that doesn’t seem to fit in our plan for life. Sometimes the change is sad and devastating. Sometimes that change is positive and encouraging. Regardless of what the circumstance might be, we recognize that what is happening in our lives is beyond our control.
Today, with the climate of panic that seems to be rising throughout the world, we can respond in one of two ways: 1. We can join in the panic and become overwhelmed ourselves. 2. We can embrace the fact that God is working in a way that we will never truly understand this side of heaven.
Last night I was reading through the book of Habakkuk. If you have never had the chance to read through that book, I would encourage you to do so. It is a short book, just a few chapters, but it has tremendous insight into the power and glory of God. Habakkuk is considered to be a minor prophet is believed to have lived in Jerusalem and was prophesying around 612BC. We really don’t have a lot of information about the prophet other than the times he is mentioned in this book, and some Jewish tradition. As I read through this book, I was struck by the first 5 verses:
How long, Lord, must I call for help,
but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, “Violence!”
but you do not save?
3 Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and conflict abounds.
4 Therefore the law is paralyzed,
and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
so that justice is perverted.
The Lord’s Answer
5 “Look at the nations and watch—
and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days
that you would not believe,
even if you were told.
Habakkuk 1:1-5
Does this sound familiar? Do his questions resonate with you? Have you ever questioned God the way that Habakkuk is doing here? I believe we all can relate and share in the confusion and even stress that seemed to be voiced.
I underlined the part of those five verses that hit me the hardest. Habakkuk was crying out to God for some clarity in the midst of all that was going on, and God simply points out that He is doing to do something that Habakkuk and the people wouldn’t even believe if He pulled out the plans and showed them what was going to happen!
As we make our way through each new day right now, we are confronted with new possibilities and new fears, but the truth is that we don’t need to be afraid. We don’t need to be afraid because we can trust that God is up to something amazing! God is doing something that we wouldn’t believe even if He told us!
So, here is your challenge today sit in His presence today and allow His joy to consume you. Allow His peace to roll over you. Allow His comfort to surround you. Just sit with Him!
Then, tell someone that you are thankful that God has placed them in your life. Share with them the hope that you have in God, and let them know that God is using them to impact your life! Believe me, you will bring joy and a smile to someone today, who desperately needs it!
Know that I love you and am praying for you!
Question: Who can I thank God for today?



Today, we are looking at the word INTIMIDATION. When I think of that word, immediately I am taken back to a 1994 movie called “Little Giants”. In this movie we have two brothers who grew up in a small town. One was a football superstar, the other, obviously wasn’t. As these two men grow older then end up coaching opposing little league football teams. The superstar brother has a team (Cowboys) that is loaded with talent. They are faster, bigger, stronger, and have more knowledge about football as a whole. The other team (Giants), well not so much. They are smaller, slower, not as a strong, and don’t quite have the football knowledge that might be necessary to have a successful team.
As their game against each other begins, the Cowboys are doing what everyone anticipated they would—take a large lead against the Giants. The first half belong to the Cowboys. However, the second half would be a different story. As the team comes together during halftime, they plan, and work together to strategy to defeat the cowboys. One of those plans involves the idea of INTIMIDATION. All I can remember seeing is the smallest boy on the field, who happened to have the deepest voice say that word over and over again haha. Anyway, the Giants actually overcome the Cowboys and win the game, but I was brought back to that word, Intimidation.
What does it mean? Literally, it means “ the act of making someone timid or fearful”
The devil loves to use this tactic in our lives. He loves to manipulate our thoughts and emotions as a way to intimidate us, because he knows that intimidation can lead to isolation and fear. Chuck Swindoll defined our actions perfectly when he discussed what happens to us when we are intimidated by the devil: “we get tongue-tied. Our thoughts get confused. We forget how to pray. We focus on the odds against us. We forget whom we represent, and we stand there with our knees knocking.”
Today, let us not be intimidated by all that is going on around us. Let us walk with courage each day knowing that God is working and has a tremendous plan. Let us remember that the power of the Living God is on the inside of us. That is the very same power that rose Jesus from the dead, healed the blind, cured the leper, and birthed the church nearly 2000 years ago. Now, we aren’t to be careless and arrogant. We are to be obedient and trusting, knowing that God wants to use us for His purposes, not the other way around.
One of my favorite verses is Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Notice that God begins this section with a question—haven’t I commanded you? Basically He is saying: “Josh, you need to remember what I told you already. I have pointed out that you need to be strong and courageous—so go and be strong and courageous.” He didn’t say be careless and absent minded. He said be strong and courageous. That means, in the face of adversity or hardship, remember who God is. Remember what He is capable of. And trust that He is working out His perfect will!
Today, sit in God’s presence for just a few minutes . Don’t do anything else but stop and remember who God is. The ever present, creator of all. Embrace His love and strength.
Then, thank Him for what He has does in your life, and He has been working. Don’t forget that He has brought you along each day, even though things may have been difficult! Give praise to Him for He is most definitely good.
Finally, ask Him to show you where you need courage. Let Him open your eyes to His truth and strength, so that you can walk boldly!
Know that I love you and am praying for you! God is guiding you! Trust Him!
Question: Where do you need the boldness of the Spirit of God in your life?