Complain or Convince | The Squeal Heard Round the World

Philippians 2


Philippians 2:14-16, “ Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain.” (NKJV)


It happens with my kids all the time. Specifically, my three-year-old. Everything’s smiles and rainbows until he doesn’t get his way. What happens next is a strange mixture of PeeWee Herman and the Incredible Hulk. This once sweet-natured little momma’s boy transforms into a wrecking ball of sheer will. Combine this with a high-pitched squeal and the severity of his complaint can be heard all over the neighborhood and by dogs miles away!

A little whining is to be expected. He’s three and the youngest of four siblings. He’s learning the right way to get his way. At this point his complaints and disputes revolve around simple things like video games and basketballs. But he will grow older and his complaints will one day become something you and I are more familiar with as adults. My prayer for him as he matures is that he would internalize these verses. I pray that he would learn to do all things without complaining or disputing.

I don’t expect him to be passive. I don’t expect him to just shut up and take it. God doesn’t call us to be anyone’s door mat. In moments when things aren’t going our way God does for you and me what I hope I can do for my kids. He trains us to find a better way.

Life is full of moments where you don’t get your way. Your job will come with people and circumstances that aren’t fair and tasks no one wants to do. Sometimes you’ll get what you deserve. Sometimes you won’t. Philippians 2:14-16 are clear. How we respond when we don’t get our way reflects the influence our Father has on us.

I encourage my three-year-old to find a better way. Hitting, biting, pushing, screaming, wailing – these tactics virtually guarantee he won’t get what he wants. We may be adults, but when we don’t get what we want we still struggle with our own inner three-year-old.

Philippians 2:14-16 tell us the reason we should we respond without complaints or disputes. It’s because it will set us apart. It takes little effort and even less thought to complain. To find a solution takes something more.

Earlier in Philippians 2 we see Jesus lifted up as a remarkable example of humility. He was treated unfairly and punished for a crime he didn’t commit. He gave up his position in heaven. He gave up his authority as God. He gave up his rights as a man. He gave up his life on the cross. Yet he never complained. He never argued. He gave up without giving in and got exactly what he wanted.

I’m going to say that again. Jesus gave up without giving in and got exactly what he wanted. Without dispute. Without complaint. Jesus found a better way. It led to salvation for you and me.


We need to learn how to do all things without complaining or disputing. It’s not about giving in. It’s about giving up. Giving up what we think are our ‘rights’ or what we ‘deserve’. Like Jesus, we need to learn to give up without giving in. We need to find a better way.

I’m trying to train my three-year-old. Here’s what I tell him.

  • USE YOUR WORDS – squealing may get my attention, but it’s not going to convince your six-year-old brother to play with you. The right thing said at the right time in the right way can make miracles happen. Sometimes brothers like to hear you squeal. Don’t give them the pleasure. Use your words. 
  • MAKE A DEAL – The art of deal making is about relationships. I want something from you. In order to get it I need to know you. I need to understand what makes you tick and what ticks you off. Armed with that knowledge I don’t complain. I convince. Yes, there’s a problem that needs solved. I could complain about it or I could convince you that I have the solution and that solution is good for you and me both.

Both of these are tough enough for me – imagine how difficult they are for a three-year-old. So I always fall back to the most important principle of the training.

  • TRUST YOUR FATHER – When words don’t work, when I’m in no position to convince I can bring my complaints to my Father and trust that he will rightly judge. He will give what I need. He will provide. He will open doors no one can close and close doors no one can open. I can trust him to do what’s right and what’s best for me. I may not always get my way, but I can trust that what I get will be what’s best.

For my three-year-old this is tough. It’s tough for me too. Sometimes he gets the ball. Sometimes he doesn’t. Either way, as his father, I protect him from things that would harm him and provide him with things that will help. He’s learning to trust me.

It’s fun to see these principles at work in my older children. As they’ve grown, I find myself the arbitrator of fewer and fewer sibling battles. They’re learning to work things out. I hear them practice these things with their friends. They come to me now with fewer complaints and spend more time trying to convince me their solution is right. We’re far from perfect, but the squeals heard round the world are gradually becoming less and less.


Heavenly Father,

I’m thankful that I can trust you. When life seems unfair, when I don’t get my way, I’m confident you’re the one guiding and protecting me. Build Philippians 2:14-16 into my heart, mind and choices. Help me find solutions. Teach me to use my words, to convince instead of complain and to trust you. Help me to do all things without complaining or disputing so that I will be found a blameless and harmless child of God in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation where I can shine as a light to the world. Like Jesus, help me to give up without giving in and still get exactly what you intend for me to have.

I love you, in Jesus name –

Build the House

Build the HouseHere’s how this works.

Each day I’ll read and S.O.A.P. one chapter of Romans. S.O.A.P. is a simple way to focus on what God is speaking to you through what you read. It stands for ScriptureObservationApplication, & Prayer.

Every time I read a chapter God always focuses my heart and mind around a specific part of that chapter. Sometimes it’s just a verse. Sometimes it’s more than that. That verse or group of verses becomes the focus of my devo.

There’s one other practice that helps me know, understand and follow scripture – memorization. Consider memorizing the verse or verses you S.O.A.P.

Romans 4


Romans 4:20-21, “Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises (NLT)”


As I read this passage I was reminded of other verses in the Bible.

  • Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is the substance of things hope for, the evidence of things not seen.”
  • 2 Corinthians 1:20, “For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Jesus Christ with a resounding “Yes!” And through Christ, our “Amen” (which means “Yes”) ascends to God for his glory.”
  • Philippians 1:6, “…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will be faithful to complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

Abraham’s story is remarkable. God made Abraham a promise that Abraham wouldn’t begin to see answered until he was 100 years old. It’s a promise God later tested by asking Abraham to sacrifice his only son. It’s a promise that Abraham, in his lifetime, would never see fully filled. Yet Abraham’s confidence in God continued to grow. He was fully convinced that God was able, that God was trustworthy, that God would keep His Word.


Faith is the confidence that God can be trusted.

I am blessed because of the faith of others. Their confidence in God has shown me the value of patience and challenged me to hold on, to remain faithful, even when things are at their worst. Their stories have taught me that God’s promises are personal. When He made these promises He was thinking of me. He will keep His word to me. Their stories have also taught me that God’s promises are bigger than me. In His time and for His purpose He will complete every promise. I may live to see it or the conclusion may come after my life is over. Either way, God will keep His promises and I will experience the benefit here or in eternity.

It causes me to ask questions – How’s my confidence in God? Do I trust Him? Can I learn to trust Him more? If He’s kept or is in the process of keeping all of His BIG promises – like salvation, forgiveness, and abundant life – what personal, ‘small’, promises is He keeping for me right now?

In those moments of doubt I need to remember that God isn’t finished yet. Building a house takes time. Plans are drawn up. Loans are made. Contractors hired and scheduled. Skilled craftsmen work to transform a rough outline on paper into the rooms and art that will contain our lives. One day it will be the perfect home for me and my family but right now it’s in process. It’s a home that’s being built.

Some of God’s promises are like this. He is the skilled craftsmen working to transform us by building the rough outline of His Word into the practical reality of our lives. And that takes time…


Heavenly Father,

Thank You for keeping Your promises. Thank you for the examples of faith we see in Scripture. More specifically, thank you for the people in my life right now who display an uncommon confidence in you. Their example challenges and encourages me. Bless them today with Your favor and allow them to see Your promises come true! Help me understand where I am in Your process of ‘faith’-building in my life. Grow my faith. Let my story be one that inspires faith in others.

I love you, in Jesus name –

There’s so much more in this chapter…what did God speak to you?

Basket Case


Psalm 13:1-6.

Do you ever feel like you’re living Psalm 13. It starts with an impatient plea to God, “How long will you forget me, God?” Yet ends with a confident cry of trust and praise. In-between, the Psalmist declares His desire to overcome His enemies, to not be put to shame before them, and to bring glory and honor to God.

I believe God has called me to fulfill a specific purpose. I often ask God to give me the job no one else can do. If someone else can do it, then let them and let them receive the blessings of obedience that come from following Him. I want those blessings, but not for doing your job for you. I believe God has given us each a significant task and mine is different from yours.

God had a significant task for David. David would become the King of Israel and a blessing to future generations. Yet so much of David’s early life was spent running from enemies. So much of his early life looked less like a blessing and more like a curse. It’s in these moments that David would write a Psalm like this. “God, please don’t forget me.” I have to confess, that while no one is trying to kill me, there are times I feel exactly like David. “God, you’ve called me to a specific purpose, a significant task, when will you allow me to fulfill it? Don’t let my opponents get the last laugh, don’t let the naysayers be proven right, for the sake of your glory and your name do your work in me. I don’t understand your timing or your ways, I’m impatient for your answers, but I trust that it’s all under your control. So today, I give myself to you.”

Sometimes I’m a basket case. I’m up. I’m down. I’m confident. I’m confused. But like David, I pray that my faith will never waver. In all the confusion, as depression begins to set in, I pray I will always turn to God, tell Him what’s on my heart and be reminded of His great faithfulness to me and my family.

I wonder if you’re up or down today. I wonder if you’re confident or confused. God wants to hear from you. He’s not afraid of your cries for help or your fragile and ever-changing emotional states. Tell him what’s on your heart and mind and be reminded of His faithfulness.

God has a significant task for you. He is working it out right now. Turn to Him when you’re up. Trust Him when you’re down. He will lead you through the confusion.

As David would say, “I have trusted in your mercy. My heart shall rejoice in your salvation.”