Surely God Was With Him


“Christianity is not about building an absolutely secure little niche in the world where you can live with your perfect little wife and your perfect little children in a beautiful little house where you have no gays or minority groups anywhere near you. Christianity is about learning to love like Jesus loved and Jesus loved the poor and Jesus loved the broken-hearted.” – Rich Mullins at Carpenter’s Way Christian Church, Lufkin TX, 19 July 1997

“I went to an older Protestant gentleman that I’ve respected for years and years, and I asked him, “When does faithfulness to Jesus call us to lay aside our biases and when does it call us to stand beside them?” His answer to me was that it is not about being Catholic or Protestant. It is about being faithful to Jesus. The issue is not about which church you go to, it is about following Jesus where He leads you.” – Radio interview with Artie Terry, “The Exchange,” WETN, Wheaton, Ill., April 1997, quoted in An Arrow Pointing to Heaven, James Bryan Smith, p54

Twenty-two years ago this past Thursday, we lost an artist and ragamuffin who set religious conventions aside and left Indiana to follow Jesus Christ, to seek Him with his whole heart.  I am grateful Rich Mullins came along and so openly shared his very personal journey with all who would listen.

Think today I’ll dig out my copy of The Jesus Record and sing my praise to the Lord!

Her Long Brown Hair (or The Greatest Expectation)


She had long, brown hair.

I know she had long, brown hair.

And, when I go out to eat at American-style restaurants, I like to order meatloaf.

Meatloaf rocks.  And I am very particular about my meatloaf.  With one exception, it has to be topped with ketchup.  Not brown gravy.

Never brown gravy.

If a politician wants my vote, he or she will promise, if elected, to ban slathering meatloaf with brown gravy.  (And, here comes the one exception I mentioned earlier: Clive’s Roadhouse serves up a mean meatloaf with onion straws, mashed potatoes and brown gravy that will make the hardest construction worker well up with tears of gratitude after one bite.)

Here’s something else that never belongs on meatloaf.


This is how I know the chef had long brown hair.  I took a bite of what had previously been delicious meatloaf, only to end up extracting from my mouth a roughly 8-inch long brown hair which had somehow broke free from it’s follicle and landed in my lunch.

I had expected ground beef, mixed with egg, onions and bread crumbs and baked to juicy perfection.

I had expected wonderfully carmelized ketchup baked on top.

I had not expected to need to almost eat a hair nearly as long as my forearm.

Nor had I expected the confirmation that my gag reflex worked just fine.

We sometimes build up amazing – unrealistic – expectations about life.  We were taught at an early age that, here in America, we could grow up to be anything we wanted to be.  Even president!

But, the truth is, we can be anything God wants us to be.  As the Lord promised His children:

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11, ESV).

We have dreams.  Make plans.  Set goals.  Sometimes they turn out.  Sometimes they don’t.  And, when our plans blow up in our faces, it can be very discouraging to say the least.

But, as Christians, our agenda isn’t supposed to be our agenda.  It’s God’s.

We should be pursuing His will.  Seeking His guidance.  Trusting in His grace and mercy.  Sharing His love.

Am I saying we shouldn’t dream or plan or set goals?  Absolutely not!  By all means we should plan and work to achieve.  What we shouldn’t do is get so wound up in our own schemes and desires that they become what we desire over God Himself.

Jesus should be our first, overarching goal in life.

As Christ pointed out, He is our only sure expectation:

“In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33 (ESV)

To quote 18th century poet Alexander Pope, “Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.”  Granted, that sounds a tad depressing.  But not when we realize GOD is our hope.

Our only hope.

It isn’t that we’ve lost hope and now God is our last resort.  He’s the only true hope we’ve ever had!

So, here’s my challenge to all of you.  Do a quick heart check.  Are you more concerned with success or seeking the Lord?  Where is your treasure?  Is it in your bank account?  Your personal goals?  Achievements? Or is your heart set on following Jesus?

19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV)

It’s no accident that, immediately after this passage, Jesus begins teaching us not to worry.  To trust God with all our needs.  To not toil for that which has no eternal value.

Expect God.  Seek Him.  Wait patiently on Him.  Let the LORD be your expectation.

Of course, you shouldn’t have to expect a long hair (brown or otherwise) in your meatloaf.  But maybe – just maybe – I need to ease up on the brown gravy issue.

(c) 2019 by Chris Courtney.  All rights reserved.

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How Was Your Day? (Or Count Your Many Blessings)

by Chris Courtney

There are certain, open-ended questions we should never ask.

Never ask someone, “How are you doing?”  All you do is open the door for a potentially  insincere (if not entirely honest) “Ok”.  Ask instead a more direct questions (How are things at work?  How is your mom?  How’s your health?  How have the [insert name of favorite sports team here] let you down this season?)

Never ask “Where is your faith?”  Seriously.  Never ever.  It’s a slap in the face of a struggling believer.

And never ask, “How was your day?”  Unless you want to open the floodgates of complaining and grumbling (“It was awful!  The boss yelled at me.  My husband complained about the Egg-and-Dairy-Free Tofu Kale Omelet I made for dinner.  My youngest drew a moustache on his sister’s face while she was sleeing – with a black permanent marker, which doesn’t even match her blonde hair.  And the cat destroyed my Bobby Goldsboro album [don’t even ask me how!]”)



And so on.

As with most things in life, there are two views: our skewed perception, and the right view.

God’s view.

You see, God’s goodness bathes our lives with His grace, hope, love and mercy at all times.  Even when we can’t feel it.

When we can’t see it.

When we can’t perceive it.

When we question whether He hears our prayers, or stays with us, or even cares.

Let’s look at the 103rd Psalm:

1 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and all that is within me,
    bless his holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity,
    who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit,
    who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works righteousness
    and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
    his acts to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
    nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
    nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
    so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
14 For he knows our frame;[a]
    he remembers that we are dust.

15 As for man, his days are like grass;
    he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
    and its place knows it no more.
17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him,
    and his righteousness to children’s children,
18 to those who keep his covenant
    and remember to do his commandments.
19 The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,
    and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Bless the Lord, O you his angels,
    you mighty ones who do his word,
    obeying the voice of his word!
21 Bless the Lord, all his hosts,
    his ministers, who do his will!
22 Bless the Lord, all his works,
    in all places of his dominion.
Bless the Lord, O my soul! – Psalm 103 [ESV]


As believers, we are each the recipient of many, many great and wonderful blessings from our Heavenly Father.  Shall we count our many blessings?  According to to the above Psalm of David:

  1. We are forgiven of all our sins – our transgressions removed from us “as far as the east is from the west”
  2. We are healed of all our ailments
  3. We are redeemed from the hell sin provides, and given new life with Him
  4.  We are “crowned” with God’s never bending, never ending love and mercy
  5.  We are fulfilled by His goodness and revitalized
  6.  We are the beneficiaries of His justice and righteousness
  7.  We are blessed by God Who made His ways known to His people
  8.  We are the recipients of amazing grace and mercy from God Who chooses to be “slow to anger” rather than wrathful (a wrath we deserve through our sin, but are forgiven through His “steadfast love”)
  9.  We are treated with compassion by our Lord – just as a father has compassion for his children
  10.  We are known – in astoundingly minute detail – by our Father God Who created us.  Think about that one for just a moment.  God knows your weaknesses.  He knows your gifts.  He knows everything about you.  He has placed you in His great plan.
  11.  We are given eternal life through Him (through Jesus) – “from everlasting to everlasting”.  We are rescued from the brevity and pain of life ib this material world.
  12.  All of this is the loving, gracious, merciful gift of God Who is Lord over all.

David and many of the Old Testament saints figured out the secret to life.  Are you ready?  Here it is:

You have to take it on faith.

You have to take God at His Word.

You have to trust that what He promises will come to pass.

And, understand this:

13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. – Hebrews 11:13-16 [ESV]

This world is not what’s important.  It isn’t where our hearts should yearn for.  This place isn’t home.

It just isn’t.

I know not every illness gets healed on this earth.  I also know God can heal any disease.  He can also work through us to exemplify His grace, mercy and love to others.

Despite what we perceive, we need to keep our eyes on the prize, as Paul says.  Keep believing.  But keep a heavenly perspective.  It’s like my beautiful wife Jennifer likes to remind me when I’m feeling hopeless or down: will what’s got you bugged matter in a week?  A month?  A year?  A decade?  Most likely not.

Please know this: God is always with you.  He will work through those who love Him.  He will bring great things to pass.  We just have to keep faith, worship and praise the God Who so loves us and fills us.  Count your many blessings.

Name them one by one.

And see what God has done.

He lights your darkest path.

He fills your every longing.

Just look for Him.

See that our daily troubles and cares and worries are nothing compared to the greatness of our Father in Heaven.  Sometimes we just have to ask: what is important?  What does God treasure?

Now… knowing all this, let me ask you again.  How was your day?

(c) 2019 by Chris Courtney.  All rights reserved.

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You are loved far more than you can imagine, by God Who is far bigger than we can fathom.