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About Adam Holz

Adam is senior associate editor at Focus on the Family’s media review website, Plugged In. Adam has also served as associate editor at Discipleship Journal. He is the author of the NavPress Bible study Beating Busyness. Adam is married to Jennifer, an ordained Presbyterian minister. They have three children whose passions include swimming, gymnastics, drama, piano, and asking dad what’s for dessert. In his free time, Adam enjoys playing electric guitar.

“Help My Unbelief!”

By |2024-02-28T09:46:12-05:00February 28th, 2024|

“Where is my faith?—even deep down, right in, there is nothing but emptiness & darkness. . . . If there be God, please forgive me.”

The author of those words might surprise you: Mother Teresa. Beloved and renowned as a tireless servant of the poor in Calcutta, India, Mother Teresa quietly waged a desperate war for her faith over five decades. After her 1997 death, that struggle came to light when portions of her journal were published in the book Come Be My Light.

What do we do with our doubts or feelings of God’s absence? Those moments may plague some believers more than others. But many faithful believers in Jesus may, at some point in their lives, experience moments or seasons of such doubts.

I’m thankful that Scripture has given us a beautiful, paradoxical prayer that expresses both faith and the lack thereof. In Mark 9, Jesus encounters a father whose son has been demonically tormented since childhood (v. 21). When Jesus says that the man must have faith (“Everything is possible for one who believes” v. 23), the man responds, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (v. 24).

This honest, heartfelt plea invites those of us who struggle with doubt to give it to God, trusting that He can fortify our faith and hold on to us firmly amid the deepest, darkest valleys we will ever traverse.  

Sins Remembered No More

By |2023-11-14T01:33:31-05:00November 14th, 2023|

I never saw the ice. But I felt it. The back end of the pickup I was driving—my grandfather’s—fishtailed. One swerve, two, three—and I was airborne, flying off a fifteen-foot embankment. I remember thinking, This would be awesome if I wasn’t going to die. A moment later, the truck crunched into the steep slope and rolled to the bottom. I crawled out of the crushed cab, unscathed.

The truck was utterly totaled that December morning in 1992. God had spared me. But what about my grandfather? What would he say? In fact, he never said a single word about the truck. Not one. There was no scolding, no repayment plan, nothing. Just forgiveness. And a grandfather’s smile that I was okay.

My grandfather’s grace reminds me of God’s grace in Jeremiah 31. There, despite their tremendous failings, God promises a restored relationship with His people, saying, “I will forgive their wickedness, and I will remember their sins no more” (v. 34).

I’m sure my grandfather never forgot that I’d wrecked his truck. But he acted just like God does here, not remembering it, not shaming me, not making me work to repay the debt I rightfully owed. Just as God says He’ll do, my grandfather chose to remember it no more, as if the destructive thing I’d done had never happened.

First on the List

By |2023-10-19T02:33:07-04:00October 19th, 2023|

The morning commenced like a track meet. I practically jumped out of bed, launching into the teeth of the day’s deadlines. Get the kids to school. Check. Get to work. Check. I blasted full throttle into writing my “To Do” list, in which personal and professional tasks tumbled together in an avalanche-like litany:

“ . . . 13. Edit article. 14. Clean office. 15. Strategic team planning. 16. Write tech blog. 17. Clean basement. 18. Pray.”

By the time I got to number eighteen, I’d remembered that I needed God’s help. But I’d gotten that far before it even occurred to me that I was going at it alone, trying to manufacture my own momentum.

Jesus knew. He knew our days would crash one into another, a sea of ceaseless urgency. So He instructs, “Seek first [God’s] kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).

It’s natural to hear Jesus’ words as a command. And they are. But there’s more here—an invitation. In Matthew 6, Jesus invites us to exchange the world’s frantic anxiety (vv. 25–32) for a life of trust, day by day. God, by His grace, helps us all of our days—even when we get to number eighteen on our list before we remember to see life from His perspective.

How can we turn to God first each day? On stressful days, what helps you trust Jesus with things demanding your immediate attention?

Slow-Walking Sin Out the Door

By |2023-07-19T02:33:10-04:00July 19th, 2023|

Winston knows he’s not supposed to chew them. So he’s adopted a sly strategy. We call it slow-walking. If Winston spies a discarded, unguarded shoe, he’ll casually meander in that direction, grab it, and just keep walking. Slowly. Nothing to see here. Right out the door if no one notices. “Uh, Mom, Winston just slow-walked your shoe out the door.”
It’s apparent that sometimes we think we can “slow-walk” our sin past God. We’re tempted to think that He won’t notice. It’s no big deal, we rationalize—whatever “it” is. But like Winston, we know better. We know those choices don’t please God.

Like Adam and Eve in the garden, we may try to hide due to the shame of our sin (Genesis 3:10) or pretend like it didn’t happen. But Scripture invites us to do something very different: to run to God’s mercy and forgiveness. Proverbs 28:13 tells us, “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.”

We don’t have to try to slow-walk our sin and hope no one notices. When we tell the truth about our choices—to ourselves, to God, to a trusted friend—we can find freedom from the guilt and shame of carrying secret sin (1 John 1:9).

The Gospel in Unexpected Places

By |2023-06-29T02:33:25-04:00June 29th, 2023|

Recently, I found myself someplace I’d seen in movies and on TV more times that I could count: Hollywood, California. There, in the foothills of Los Angeles, those enormous white letters marched proudly across that famous hillside as I viewed them from my hotel window.

Then I noticed something else: down to the left was a prominent cross. I’d never seen that in a movie. And the moment I left my hotel room, some students from a local church began to share Jesus with me.

We might sometimes think of Hollywood as only the epicenter of worldliness, in utter contrast with God’s kingdom. Yet clearly Christ was at work there, catching me by surprise by His presence.

The Pharisees were consistently surprised by where Jesus turned up. He didn’t hang out with the people they expected. Instead, Mark 2:13–17 tells us He spent time with “tax collectors and sinners” (v. 15), people whose lives practically screamed “Unclean!” Yet there Jesus was, among those who needed Him most (v. 17).

More than 2,000 years later, Jesus continues to plant His message of hope and salvation in unexpected places, among the most unexpected of people. And He’s called and equipped us to be a part of that mission.   

The God Who Restores

By |2023-05-30T02:33:19-04:00May 30th, 2023|

On November 4, 1966, a disastrous flood swept through Florence, Italy, submerging Giorgio Vasari’s renowned work of art The Last Supper under a pool of mud, water, and heating oil for over twelve hours. With its paint softened and its wooden frame significantly damaged, many believed that the piece was beyond repair. However, after a tedious fifty-year conservation effort, experts and volunteers were able to overcome monumental obstacles and restore the valuable painting.

When the Babylonians conquered Israel, the people felt hopeless—surrounded by death and destruction and in need of restoration (Lamentations 1). During this period of turmoil, God took the prophet Ezekiel to a valley and gave him a vision where he was surrounded by dry bones. “Can these bones live?” He asked. Ezekiel responded, “Lord, you alone know” (Ezekiel 37:3). God then told him to prophesy over the bones so they might live again. “As I was prophesying,” Ezekiel recounted, “there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together” (v. 7). Through this vision, God revealed to Ezekiel that Israel’s restoration could only come through Him.

When we feel as if things in life have been broken and are beyond repair, God assures us He can rebuild our shattered pieces. He’ll give us new breath and new life.

All for Jesus

By |2023-05-25T02:33:04-04:00May 25th, 2023|

When Jeff was fourteen, his mom took him to see a famous singer. Like many musicians of his era, B. J. Thomas had gotten caught up in a self-destructive lifestyle while on music tours. But that was before he and his wife were introduced to Jesus. Their lives were radically changed when they became believers in Christ.

On the night of the concert, the singer began to entertain the enthusiastic crowd. But after performing a few of his well-known songs, one guy yelled out from the audience, “Hey, sing one for Jesus!” Without any hesitation, B. J. responded, “I just sang four songs for Jesus.”

It’s been a few decades since then, but Jeff still remembers that moment when he realized that everything we do should be for Jesus—even things that some might consider to be “non-religious.”

We’re sometimes tempted to divvy up the things we do in life. Read the Bible. Share our story of coming to faith. Sing a hymn. Sacred stuff. Mow the lawn. Go for a run. Sing a country song. Secular stuff.

Colossians 3:16 reminds us that the message of Christ indwells us in activities like teaching, singing, and being thankful, but verse 17 goes even further. It emphasizes that as God’s children, “whatever [we] do, whether in word or deed, [we] do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus.”

We do it all for Him.

Grace Amid the Chaos

By |2022-12-30T01:33:20-05:00December 30th, 2022|

I was drifting off into an impromptu nap when it hit me. From the basement, my son ripped a chord on his electric guitar. The walls reverberated. No peace. No quiet. No nap. Moments later, competing music greeted my ears: my daughter playing “Amazing Grace” on the piano.

Normally, I love my son’s guitar playing. But in that moment, it jarred and unsettled me. Just as quickly, the familiar notes of John Newton’s hymn reminded me that grace thrives amid the chaos. No matter how loud, unwanted, or disorienting the storms of life might be, God’s note of grace rings clear and true, reminding us of His watchful care over us.  

We see that reality in Scripture. In Psalm 107:23–32, sailors struggle mightily against a maelstrom that could easily devour them. “In their peril, their courage melted away” (v. 26). Still, they didn’t despair but: “cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress” (v. 28). Finally, we read: “They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven” (v. 30).

In chaotic moments, whether they’re life-threatening or merely sleep-threatening, the barrage of noise and fear can storm our souls. But as we trust God and pray to Him, we experience the grace of His presence and provision—the haven of His steadfast love.

Preparing a Place for Us

By |2022-03-17T09:06:02-04:00March 17th, 2022|

Our family was planning to get a puppy, so my eleven-year-old daughter researched for months. She knew what the dog should eat and how to introduce it to our new home—among myriad other details.    

Turns out puppies do best, she told me, if they’re introduced to one room at a time. So we carefully prepared a spare bedroom. I’m sure there will still be surprises as we raise our new puppy, but my daughter’s delight-infused preparation couldn’t have been more thorough.

The way my daughter channeled her eager anticipation for a puppy into loving preparation reminded me of Christ’s longing to share life with His people, and His promise to prepare a home for them. Nearing the end of His earthly ministry, Jesus urged His disciples to trust Him, saying, “You believe in God; believe also in me” (John 14:1). Then He promised to “prepare a place for [them] . . . that you also may be where I am” (v. 3).

Trouble was coming. But Jesus wanted His disciples to know that He was at work to bring them home to Him.

I can’t help but delight in the careful, deliberate intent with which my daughter has prepared for our new puppy. But I can only imagine how much more our Savior is delighting in His own detailed preparation for each of His people to share eternal life with Him (John 14:2).

Escape or Peace?

By |2022-01-11T08:06:03-05:00January 11th, 2022|

“ESCAPE” the hot-tub store billboard blared. It got my attention—and got me thinking. My wife and I talk about getting a hot tub . . .  someday. It'd be like a vacation in our back yard! Except for the cleaning. And the electric bill. And . . . suddenly, the hoped-for escape starts to sound like something I might need escape from.

Still, that word entices so effectively because it promises something we want: relief. Comfort. Security. Escape. It’s something our culture tempts and teases us with in myriad ways. Now, there's nothing wrong with resting, or a getaway to someplace beautiful. That said, there’s a difference between escaping life’s hardships and trusting God with them.  

In John 16, Jesus tells his disciples the next chapter of their lives will test their faith. “In this world you will have trouble,” He summarizes at the end. But then He adds this promise, “But take heart! I have overcome the world” (v. 33). Jesus didn’t want His disciples to cave in to despair. Instead, He invited them to trust Him, to know the rest that He provides: “I have told you these things,” he said, “so that in me you may have peace.”

Jesus doesn’t promise us a pain-free life. But He does promise that as we trust and rest in Him, we can experience a peace that’s deeper and more satisfying than any escape the world tries to sell us.

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