Monday, February 19, 2018

What We See - 2 Corinthians 5:7

2 Corinthians 5:7 For we walk by faith, not by sight. (NRSV)

            Sometimes the things that we see deeply affect us. It may a tragic news report on the television, or a posted picture online of some disaster far away. It could be the hurt we see in a loved ones’ eyes or real disappointment in the face of someone we know. We may have witnessed a terrible accident or looked upon a lost individual wandering the streets. We may have tentatively read a doctor’s report or a sad letter about someone’s sudden death. Whatever the case, the things that we see often have a profound effect on our emotions, mental health, and spiritual well-being.

            During those moments, I wonder how many of us say a silent prayer, asking for God’s help and guidance? How many times do we see something upsetting or beyond our control and quickly turn to God for a deeper understanding or a better outcome? We inwardly retreat to our soul-shell and quietly wait on God to do something to make things easier, if not better, or to make our burden lighter, if not gone. We faithfully rely on God to work things out, to keep us walking by faith, and not be overshadowed by what we see. Faith becomes the pillar of prayer that we can lean on, as well as the fountain of fortitude where we can find the strength to carry on. It may not be easy at first, but it can be beneficial to realize God’s part in our healing, recovery, and restoration. We may have seen something which concerns us, but we also believe in Someone who is concerned for us.

            Whatever occurs this week and wherever you go, you are never out of God’s sight, nor are you ever outside of His grace. Know that you are constantly loved and will be given the guidance you need.

Point to ponder

What is troubling me right now? Am I ready to share this with God?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, You came into the world to show us how to find God, so that we may place our faith and lives in His hands. You know our present concerns and worries; You know our difficulties and issues. Help us to rely on Your words so that we may be reassured about finding the strength, hope, and love we each need in our lives. In Your Holy Name, we simply pray. Amen.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to give feedback about this message, please send him an email to

Today’s image is one of John’s drawings called “Lenten Prayer.” If you would like to view a larger version, please click this link: Prayer.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Freedom and Faith - 2 Corinthians 3:17

2 Corinthians 3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (NRSV)

            Freedom is something that every American I know of, cherishes deeply. Ever since this beautiful nation began, the fight for Liberty and our individual rights has been maintained and strongly defended. For almost 250 years, the citizens of this vast land have fought against foreign nations and internal foes to sustain what George Washington once described as this great experiment in Liberty.

This freedom, however, was not given to everyone when the United States was established, so both a Civil War and a Civil Rights Movement had to take place in order to expand this right of Liberty to more people. As each generation comes and goes, the struggle to maintain unalienable rights and broaden our freedoms continues. It is a work in progress and is being advanced all of the time. What one age group believes is freedom may be contested by a younger generation. What once was hallowed as a precious right may be changed by a better-informed and enlightened people. The idols of the past conflict with the ideals in the present; the outcome of such a struggle will determine who we are as a people and shape who we want to become.

As a Christian, freedom is very dear to my heart, especially the freedom from fear and anxiety which can liberate people from the tyrannies of terror, oppression, and self-preservation.  Upholding traditional rights can actually smother the faith of a future generation. When Christ brought the message of the Gospel to His people, it was radical and appeared irrational at times – after all, what right-minded, fiercely individual, and religiously zealous Judean would succumb to a coarse Galilean’s teaching about loving their enemies? Why would they give up protecting themselves by embracing their foes?

Why? Because Jesus knew that in order to be truly free they had to give up past idols and sacred cows in order to enjoy the liberating presence of God’s Kingdom among them. Fear had no place in a community of faith. Self-preservation and indignation had no claim with a Teacher who constantly proclaimed self-sacrifice and love. In other words, if we truly seek to be free, then we need to understand that true liberty can only be found where the Spirit of Christ abides.

Point to ponder

How much do I cherish my freedom? How does it conflict with or augment my faith?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, You are the Lord of Liberty and the Founder of Freedom. You have liberated us from the shackles of sin; You can set us free from our fears and self-righteous ways. Grant us the courage to embrace what is truly right in Your eyes, even if it means letting go of some personal rights in our lives. In Your Holy Name, we earnestly pray. Amen.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to give some feedback on today’s message, send him an email to

Today’s image is one of John’s latest drawings for Lent. If you would like to view a larger version, please click this link: Lent2018.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Christian Poetry - Time Will Tell

Time Will Tell

There is a time for everything
A sacred season for all;
A time, in which, we each are born,
A moment when we fall.
A time to plant some new ideas,
A harvest to gather all,
But a time to kill and let blood spill,
Is that our human call?

There is a time for tearing down
The walls our hate has grown,
To turn our tears away from fears
And learn to laugh, not mourn.
A time to dance this sweet embrace,
This gift of life we’ve known;
To seek the higher way of love
And never be alone.

Is there still time to show remorse
And own the pain we’ve caused;
To let our spirits speak to us,
And change the path we’ve trod?
Is there still time to learn of love
And make all war outlawed?
Is there the will, within us still,
To share the peace of God?

© John Stuart 2018