27 Jesus and his disciples entered Jerusalem again. As Jesus was walking around the temple, the chief priests, legal experts, and elders came to him. 28 They asked, “What kind of authority do you have for doing these things? Who gave you this authority to do them?” 29 Jesus said to them, “I have a question for you. Give me an answer, then I’ll tell you what kind of authority I have to do these things. 30 Was John’s baptism of heavenly or of human origin? Answer me.” 31 They argued among themselves, “If we say, ‘It’s of heavenly origin,’ he’ll say, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ 32 But we can’t say, ‘It’s of earthly origin.’” They said this because they were afraid of the crowd, because they all thought John was a prophet. 33 They answered Jesus, “We don’t know.” Jesus replied, “Neither will I tell you what kind of authority I have to do these things.” (Mark 11:27-33, CEB)

I’ve been thinking a lot about God’s plan. Life this year, and especially the last two months, have been rather crazy, and I have been seeking answers for why life has been so crazy. As I read this, I’m reminded that we aren’t supposed or can’t know all the answers. Sometimes all we need to know is that God is the final authority and to continue to follow him all of the answers will eventually be found.


19 Now those who were scattered as a result of the trouble that occurred because of Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch. They proclaimed the word only to Jews. 20 Among them were some people from Cyprus and Cyrene. They entered Antioch and began to proclaim the good news about the Lord Jesus also to Gentiles. 21 The Lord’s power was with them, and a large number came to believe and turned to the Lord. 22 When the church in Jerusalem heard about this, they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw evidence of God’s grace, he was overjoyed and encouraged everyone to remain fully committed to the Lord. 24 Barnabas responded in this way because he was a good man, whom the Holy Spirit had endowed with exceptional faith. A considerable number of people were added to the Lord. 25 Barnabas went to Tarsus in search of Saul. 26 When he found him, he brought him to Antioch. They were there for a whole year, meeting with the church and teaching large numbers of people. It was in Antioch where the disciples were first labeled “Christians.” (Acts 11:19-26, CEB)

I don’t think I can put a number to how many times I have prayed for more faith. I have begged and I have pleaded, but my faith doesn’t seem to budge. It makes me jealous of people like Barnabas, whose faith was so obvious to others that they responded to his ministry in droves.

That jealousy made me miss the point of the story of Barnabas for a long time. In truth, Barnabas went where he was sent, paid attention, and did his job. Much of the work was done before he got to Antioch, so when he arrived he used his gifts for the benefit of the new Christians there. His faith was a gift, but it wasn’t the point.

While I still might wish I had a little more faith, I know I have the gifts I need for the tasks to which I’m called. Like Barnabas, I can know my gifts and be ready to go.


We always thank God for all of you when we mention you constantly in our prayers. This is because we remember your work that comes from faith, your effort that comes from love, and your perseverance that comes from hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father.Brothers and sisters, you are loved by God, and we know that he has chosen you. We know this because our good news didn’t come to you just in speech but also with power and the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know as well as we do what kind of people we were when we were with you, which was for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord when you accepted the message that came from the Holy Spirit with joy in spite of great suffering. As a result you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The message about the Lord rang out from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia but in every place. The news about your faithfulness to God has spread so that we don’t even need to mention it. People tell us about what sort of welcome we had from you and how you turned to God from idols. As a result, you are serving the living and true God, 10 and you are waiting for his Son from heaven. His Son is Jesus, who is the one he raised from the dead and who is the one who will rescue us from the coming wrath. (1 Thessalonians 1:2-10, CEB)

I’m often disheartened by the massive number of horrifying stories that clog my news feed. I feel the need to thank God for the handful of heartwarming stories of caring people, much like Paul thanks God for the continued faith and love of the Thessalonians. 

The world is constantly in need of more Imitators of Christ, but these people can take any form. Jesus summarized his teachings into a single commandment and called on us to follow it: to love thy neighbor. So, to me, an Imitator of Christ is anyone who acts gracefully with love in their hearts, regardless of their background or faith. 

Imitators of Christ can come from anywhere to deliver the grace of the Holy Spirit to those who need it, and for these people I give thanks to God. 


34 “Take care that your hearts aren’t dulled by drinking parties, drunkenness, and the anxieties of day-to-day life. Don’t let that day fall upon you unexpectedly, 35 like a trap. It will come upon everyone who lives on the face of the whole earth. 36  Stay alert at all times, praying that you are strong enough to escape everything that is about to happen and to stand before the Human One.” 37 Every day Jesus was teaching in the temple, but he spent each night on the Mount of Olives. 38 All the people rose early in the morning to hear him in the temple area. (Luke 21:34-38, CEB)

We need to not get lost in the fear and anxiety of this world so we give in to the downward spiral of the world. We must stay above board and focus our lives on Jesus. Do not let yourself be caught up in the fear and hate of this world that you lose sight of what is coming to us in a manger in 23 days.

Christ our savior came to us and gave us the understanding of loving the world, but not being a part of it. 

Follow after Christ and do not live in fear, but share God’s love.


After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven. He had great authority, and the earth was filled with light because of his glory. He called out with a loud voice, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has become a home for demons and a lair for every unclean spirit. She is a lair for every unclean bird, and a lair for every unclean and disgusting beast because all the nations have fallen[a] due to the wine of her lustful passion. The kings of the earth committed sexual immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth became rich from the power of her loose and extravagant ways.” Then I heard another voice from heaven say, “Come out of her, my people, so that you don’t take part in her sins and don’t receive any of her plagues. Her sins have piled up as high as heaven, and God remembered her unjust acts. Give her what she has given to others. Give her back twice as much for what she has done. In the cup that she has poured, pour her twice as much. To the extent that she glorified herself and indulged her loose and extravagant ways, give her pain and grief. In her heart she says, ‘I sit like a queen! I’m not a widow. I’ll never see grief.’ This is why her plagues will come in a single day—deadly disease, grief, and hunger. She will be consumed by fire because the Lord God who judges her is powerful. “The kings of the earth, who committed sexual immorality with her and shared her loose and extravagant ways, will weep and mourn over her when they see the smoke from her burning. 10 They will stand a long way off because they are afraid of the pain she suffers, and they will say, ‘Oh, the horror! Babylon, you great city, you powerful city! In a single hour your judgment has come.’ (Revelation 18:1-10, CEB)

Babylon has fallen, as powerful and as great as it was. It has fallen in spite of its kings and wealth and tyranny. Today and forever, Babylon only receives what it has given, and can give only injustice. 

God’s power makes even the mightiest, most terrifying powers of man crumble into dust, but his power is not the great destructive power of armies, nor is it violence magnified. The power of God that sweeps all away is the same love and life-giving power of a clear river, slowly chipping rock and smoothing sand, shaping land and sea.