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Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

In Hebrews 12:1, Paul mentions two things that keep us from running after God and the call He placed on our lives:

  • Everything that hinders
  • The sin that so easily entangles

We tend to lump these two things together – seeing everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles as two ways to say the same thing.

Sin does hinder us.
And we are hindered by sin.

Same concept. Different wording.

But Paul wasn’t just being flowery with his choice of words in this verse. He wasn’t just restating the same concept twice to gain attention.

Everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles referred to two different ideas.

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skillfullysurrounded

The past few months, I have been stuck in Hebrews 12:1

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

It’s a challenging response to great stories of faith — to throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, so we can run fully after God.

The longer I study this verse, the more I love Paul’s choice of words.

The word translated above as entangles, is a Greek word meaning skillfully surrounds, and prevent from running.

Skillfully surrounds.

It accurately describes what sin does to us.

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Response to Faith

March 1, 2015 — Leave a comment

responsetofaith

Hebrews 11 is easily one of my favorite chapters in all of scripture.

In one chapter, Paul takes all of the great stories of faith in the Old Testament and compresses them down into one digestible section.

Enoch, who pleased God so much, God took him without having to experience death.

Noah, who spent decades building an ark in the midst of gears and persecution.

Abraham, who left his comfortable life at the age of 75 to move to a place he didn’t even know.

Moses, who stood before Pharaoh – the most powerful man on the planet – and commanded him to let the Israelites go.

Rahab, who helped the Israelite spies out of Jericho, and became part of the lineage of Christ.

Women, who received their dead back to life.

Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.

Powerful stories of faith.

It’s this very chapter I thought God would have me study in this year of faith — learning the backstories and lessons from such amazing men and women.

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The God of More

February 26, 2015 — Leave a comment

godofmore3

We live in a world where more is considered more.

More money.
More toys.
More popularity.
A bigger house.
Fancier car.
Better paycheck.
More status.
More influence.
More followers, likes, and retweets.
A better body.
Better grades.

More, more, more, more, more.

There is an innate craving in all of us for more.

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Marked

February 22, 2015 — Leave a comment

marked

This weekend, I had the privilege of leading the Ignite Encounter Retreat — a weekend getaway designed to help college students in the West Central Illinois area have a genuine encounter with God.

It’s a weekend full of worship, prayer, food, Bible sessions, community groups, testimonies, more food, communion, and more worship.

I’ve been leading these retreats now every semester (and some summers) since 2010 and I have to say, God always shows up. This retreat was no different.

28 students from four different colleges showed up — and every single one walked away changed.

Here are just a few stories of what God did this weekend:
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