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Adam R. Holz

Adam R. Holz

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

Articles by Adam R. Holz

Every Opportunity

Ever caught a dragon? I hadn’t until my son convinced me to download a trending game on my phone. Producing a digital map mirroring the real world, the game allows you to catch colorful creatures near you.

Unlike most mobile games, this one requires movement. Anywhere you go is part of the game’s playing field. The result? I’m doing a lot more walking! Anytime my son and I play, we strive to maximize every opportunity to nab the critters that pop up around us.

It’s easy to focus on, even obsess over, a game that’s crafted to captivate users. But as I was playing with my son recently, I was convicted with this question: Am I this intentional about maximizing the spiritual opportunities around me?

Paul knew the need to be alert to God’s work around us. In Colossians 4, he asked for prayer for an opportunity to share the gospel (v. 3). Then he challenged, “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.” Paul didn’t want the Colossians to miss any chance of influencing others toward Christ. But doing so would require truly seeing them and their needs, then engaging in ways “full of grace” (v. 6).

In our world, far more things vie for our time and attention than a game’s imaginary dragons. But God invites us to navigate a real-world adventure, every day seeking opportunities to point to Him.

Full Attention

Technology today seems to demand our constant attention. The modern “miracle” of the internet (now easily accessible via the smartphone) gives us the amazing capacity to access humanity’s collective learning in the palm of our hand. But for many, such constant access can come at a cost.

Writer Linda Stone has coined the phrase "continual partial attention" to describe the modern impulse to always need to know what's happening 'out there,' to make sure we're not missing anything. If that sounds like it could produce chronic anxiety, you’re right!

Although the apostle Paul struggled with different reasons for anxiety, he knew that our souls are wired to find peace in God. Which is why, in a letter to new believers who'd endured persecution (1 Thessalonians 2:14), Paul concluded urging the believers to “rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances” (5:16–18).

Praying "continually" might seem pretty daunting. But then, how often do we check our phones? What if we instead let that urge be a prompt to talk to God? To say thank you, lift up a prayer request, or praise Him?

More importantly, what if we learned to exchange a need to always be in "the know" for continual, prayerful rest in God's presence? Through relying on Christ's Spirit, we can learn to give our heavenly Father our continual full attention as we make our way through each day.

The Leaning Tower

You’ve probably heard of the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy, but have you heard of the leaning tower of San Francisco? It’s called the Millennium Tower. Built in 2008, this 58-story skyscraper stands proudly—but slightly crookedly—in downtown San Francisco.

The problem? Its engineers didn’t dig a deep enough foundation. So now they’re being forced to retrofit the foundation with repairs that may cost more than the entire tower did when it was originally built—a fix that some believe is necessary to keep it from collapsing during an earthquake.

The painful lesson here? Foundations matter. When your foundation isn’t solid, catastrophe could ensue. Jesus taught something similar near the end of His Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 7:24–27, He contrasts two builders, one who built on a rock, another on sand. When a storm inevitably came, only the house with a solid foundation was left standing.

What does this mean for us? Jesus is clear: our lives must be built through obedience and trust upon Him (v. 24). When we rest in Christ, our lives can find solid ground through God’s power and unending grace.

Jesus doesn’t promise us that we’ll never face storms. But He does say that when He is our rock, those storms and torrents will never wash away our faith-fortified foundation in Him.

Lord of the . . . Nails?

I was getting in my car when the glint caught my eye: a nail, embedded in my rear tire’s sidewall. I listened for the telltale whistle of air. Thankfully, the hole was plugged—at least for the moment.

As I drove to a tire store, I wondered: How long has that nail been there? Days? Weeks? I wondered: How long have I been protected from a threat I didn’t even know existed?

We can sometimes live under the illusion that we’re in control. But that nail reminded me: we’re not. 

But when life feels out-of-control and unstable, we have a God whose reliability we can trust. In Psalm 18, David praises God for watching over him (Psalm 18:34–35). David confesses, “It is God who arms me with strength. . . . You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way” (vv. 32, 36). In this poem of praise, David celebrates God's sustaining presence (v. 35).

I personally don’t march into combat like David; I even go out of my way not to take unnecessary risks. Still, my life is often chaotic.

But I can rest in the knowledge that, though God doesn't promise us protection from all of life's difficulties, He always knows where I’m at. He knows where I’m going and what I’ll encounter. And He’s the Lord of it all—even the “nails” of our lives.

Dad, Where Are You?

“Dad! Where are you?”

I was pulling into our driveway when my daughter, panicking, called me on my cell. I’d needed to be home by 6:00 to get her to play practice; I was on time. My daughter's voice, however, betrayed her lack of trust. Reflexively, I responded: “I'm here. Why don’t you trust me?”

But as I spoke those words, I wondered, How often could my heavenly Father ask that of me? In stressful moments, I too am impatient. I too struggle to trust, to believe God will keep His promises. So I cry out: “Father, where are you?”

Amid stress and uncertainty, I sometimes doubt God's presence, or even His goodness and purposes for me. The Israelites did too. In Deuteronomy 31, they were preparing to enter the Promised Land, knowing their leader, Moses, would stay behind. Moses sought to reassure God’s people by reminding them, “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” (v. 8).

That promise—that God is always with us—remains a cornerstone of our faith today (see Matthew 1:23, Hebrews 13:5). Indeed, Revelation 21:3 culminates with these words: “God's dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them.”  

Where is God? He is right here, right now, right with us—always ready to hear our prayers.

Hang in There

My father-in-law turned seventy-eight recently, and during our family gathering to honor him, someone asked him, “What's the most important thing you’ve learned in your life so far?” His answer? “Hang in there.”   

Hang in there. It might be tempting to dismiss those words as simplistic. But my father-in-law wasn’t promoting blind optimism or positive thinking. He spoke those words as someone who’d endured tough things in his eight decades. His determination to press on wasn't grounded in some vague hope that things might get better, but in Christ’s work in his life.  

“Hanging in there”—the Bible calls it perseverance—isn’t possible through mere willpower. We persevere because God promised, over and over, that He is with us, that He will give us strength, and that He will accomplish His purposes in our lives. That’s the message He spoke to the Israelites through Isaiah: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).

What does it take to “hang in there”? According to Isaiah, the foundation for hope is God’s character. Knowing God’s goodness allows us to release our grip on fear so we can cling to the Father and His promise that He will provide what we need each day: strength, help, and God’s comforting, empowering, and upholding presence.

When We Know Who Wins

My supervisor is huge fan of a certain college basketball team. This year, they won the national championship, so another coworker texted him congratulations. The only problem was my boss hadn’t yet had a chance to watch the final game! He was frustrated, he said, knowing the outcome beforehand. But, he acknowledged, at least when he watched the game he wasn’t nervous when the score stayed close to the end. He knew who won!

We never really know what tomorrow will hold. Some days can feel mundane and tedious, while other days are filled with joy. Still other times, life can be grueling, agonizing even, for long periods of time.

But despite life’s unpredictable ups and downs, we can still be securely grounded in God’s peace. Because, like my supervisor, we know the end of the story. We know who “wins.”

Revelation, the Bible’s final book, lifts the curtain on that spectacular finale. After the final defeat of death and evil (20:10,14), John describes a beautiful victory scene (21:1–3) where God makes His home with His people (v. 3) and wipes “every tear from their eyes” in a world with “no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (v. 4).

On difficult days, we can cling to this promise. No more loss or weeping. No more what-ifs or broken hearts. Instead, we’ll spend eternity together with our Savior. What a glorious celebration that will be!

The Bulldog and the Sprinkler

Most summer mornings, a delightful drama plays out in the park behind our house. It involves a sprinkler. And a bulldog. About 6:30 or so, the sprinklers come on. Shortly thereafter, Fifi the bulldog (our family's name for her) arrives.

Fifi's owner lets her off her leash. The bulldog sprints with all her might to the nearest sprinkler, attacking the stream of water as it douses her face. If Fifi could eat the sprinkler, I think she would. It's a portrait of utter exuberance, of Fifi's seemingly infinite desire to be drenched by the liquid she can never get enough of.

There are no bulldogs in the Bible, or sprinklers. Yet, in a way, Paul's prayer in Ephesians 3 reminds me of Fifi. There, Paul prays that Ephesian believers might be filled with God's love and “have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” He prayed that we might be “filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (vv. 18–19).

Still today, we are invited to experience a God whose infinite love exceeds anything we can comprehend, that we too might be drenched, saturated, and utterly satisfied by His goodness. We are free to plunge with abandon, relish, and delight into a relationship with the One who alone can fill our hearts and lives with love, meaning, and purpose.

No More Running

On July 18, 1983, a US Air Force captain disappeared from Albuquerque, New Mexico, without a trace. Thirty-five years later, authorities found him in California. The New York Times reports that, “depressed about his job,” he’d simply run away.

Thirty-five years on the run! Half a lifetime spent looking over his shoulder! I have to imagine that anxiety and paranoia were this man’s constant companions.

But I have to admit, I also know a bit about being “on the run.” No, I've never abruptly fled something in my life . . . physically. But at times I know there’s something God wants me to do, something I need to face or confess. I don’t want to do it. And so, in my own way, I run too.

The prophet Jonah is infamous for literally running from God’s assignment to preach to the city of Nineveh (see Jonah 1:1–3). But, of course, he couldn’t outrun God. You’ve probably heard what happened (vv. 4,17): A storm. A fish. A swallowing. And, in the belly of the beast, a reckoning, in which Jonah faced what he’d done and cried to God for help (2:2).

Jonah wasn’t a perfect prophet. But I take comfort in his remarkable story, because, even despite Jonah’s stubborn waywardness, God never let go of him. The Lord still answered the man’s desperate prayer, graciously restoring His reluctant servant (2:2)—just as He does with us.

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