Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57   Entries 191-195 of 283
May 7, 2017, 5:00 AM

Why did John use the word love in his warning to us about the world?

Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever. 1 John 2:15-17

Have you ever asked yourself why John used the word love in his warning to us about the world?  John could’ve used any number of other words or expressions, like “chase after” or “lust for.”  The thing is John was talking about a relationship, and the currency of a loving relationship is trust. Before I knew the Lord, I didn’t have anything to put my trust in except myself and worldly thoughts and ideas.  Here was one of my trust paths, going backward from goal to tactics:

I trusted that if I could capture the attention of people around me, I would feel valued and loved.

I trusted that if I were the fun going party guy, I would capture the attention of the people around me.

I trusted that if I drink enough and did things to the extreme, I would be the fun going party guy.

I wound up “in love” with drinking, and this took me down a path of being an alcoholic. In a way, I was “love sick,” in that the thing I focused my affection and attention on is what made me physically, emotionally, and spiritually ill.  God deliver me from that but I know I have to be very careful not to flirt with drinking when things don’t go my way.  I know that if I don’t turn to God, I’ll turn to something lesser to take His place. How about you, in what areas are you “love sick” and misdirecting your affection?


So what should we be drawn to when the world confounds us? Where should we get our sufficiency? What or whom should we love? The answer is Jesus Christ, and here’s why. Material things will decay. Circumstances will disappoint. Achievements will leave us empty. And people will let us down.  Only Christ has promised to sustain us until the time comes to join Him in paradise.  Meanwhile, we can read His Word, which is a love story written directly to us. We can choose to not just be hearers of what it says, but doers. Only then can we make a dent in our love problems with this world.  What step do you need to take this week to draw closer to Christ?


This is my Prayer: Father God, thank you for creating a perfect world in the beginning. Jesus when we messed it up with sin, You rushed in with a rescue plan.  Lord help me to always turn to You, no matter what going on in my life.  God teach me to listen to Your voice, and respond to people and situations with grace, always remembering that You are in control. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

May 6, 2017, 5:00 AM

Do you tend to fill space in your conversations with empty words or sentiments? 

Do you tend to fill space in your conversations with empty words or sentiments?   Usually empty spaces scare us.  We will run from them and we try to give explanations.  Not necessarily a true explanation, but we think that any explanation is better than the scary empty space of a conversation.   We can’t stand to have that awkward silence.   We’re really good at filling the uncomfortable silence with noise, aren’t we? In this millennial age it’s easier to look down, to type into a screen, to retweet someone else’s soundbite then it is to just be. We puff ourselves up by reading the headlines, anything to make those around us believe we’re well informed, invested, and engaged.  Face to face with a colleague or friend, our discomfort turns to idol explanations.


Empty space is the place where all significant transformation happens. This place is where we as Christians absolutely hate being, but this is where God is always leading us. You see it is only when we are empty that He can fill us.  The empty space is a threshold place, a no man’s land so to speak and who’s comfortable being there after all?  But why are we so afraid of silence? Why do we turn away when the moment feels uncomfortable?


“When they saw Job from a distance, they scarcely recognized him. Wailing loudly, they tore their robes and threw dust into the air over their heads to show their grief. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and nights. No one said a word to Job, for they saw that his suffering was too great for words.” Job 2:12-13 Job’s friends sat with him for seven days and seven nights without saying a word. Now that’s uncomfortable. But they knew that Job’s deep suffering required deep empty space. In order for God to fill the emptiness, there needed to be an awkward silence. There needed to be time to simply wait and entrust. I can only imagine that in their quiet existed a deep sense of togetherness.


I think this is what most of us are missing.  When we look down at our phones in order to fill an empty free moment. When we make idol conversation or fill time with fluff.  We break our chance to enter together into no-man’s land, into the uncomfortable void where God works. We miss our chance at real togetherness, and in turn we fail each other. Instead of really hearing each other we exchange headlines and quickly speculated opinions. We respond to our friends or our coworkers or even our kids without matching their expression. We respond but don’t really hear. We exchange words without really connecting.


God fills our empty spaces of discomfort when we look up rather than down. When we’re so fixed on our own vantage point, staring at our feet or turning away, we miss the opportunity to have an impact. Imagine if we all did this, if we looked up and actually talked to each other.  If we took the time necessary to understand our differences rather than just simply disagree. If we really stood together in the gap of pain and suffering, maybe real connections would begin to grow in our empty spaces. Maybe, God would be able to use us in even bigger ways.  I think we have to be brave and give it a shot. This life we have is messy and uncomfortable.  Let’s be in it together. Put down your cell phone and keep your eyes up next time you’re sitting with someone.  What you will notice might surprise you!


This is my Prayer: Father God, please help me bridge the gap between my discomfort and offering Your heart in a situation.  Jesus be with me in a way that gives me courage to engage in togetherness, in silence, in waiting.  Lord surround me with others who are willing to do the same so that together we might enter into a deeper understanding of friendship and love.  God thank you for giving me the gift of Your love, help me to be a steward of it. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

May 5, 2017, 5:00 AM

Where are you resistant to allow God’s truth to penetrate your innermost being?  

Where are you resistant to allow God’s truth to penetrate your innermost being?  Authenticity has achieved buzzword status in our culture. Everywhere we look people are clamoring for relationships, businesses, and organizations that are the “real deal.” This push for authenticity has even become a trendy part of church as well. We search for churches that allow us to “come as we are.”  Time and time again we distort and misuse the true meaning of authenticity.   When that happens, I have to resist the urge to do my best Inigo Montoya impression from Princess Bride, “You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.”


In moments of “just keeping it real” or “being an open book,” most of us think we are being authentic. We might be transparent, but we are far from authentic. We use authenticity as an escape clause for a bad attitude, sin patterns, and areas of our heart that we don’t want to address.  If we behave this way we are settling for a cheap substitute of authenticity. Authenticity never excuses sin.

“You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” Colossians 3:7-10


The real work of authenticity isn’t just knowing ourselves, but understanding the image we are reflecting.  Authenticity requires a standard for truth. It always pushes us to ruthlessly pursue truth, not only about ourselves, but our creator. Authenticity requires being true to who’s you are, not who we are.  As believers, who’s we are, is defined by Christ. We are a new creation, His masterpiece, the salt, and light.  We are Christ’s ambassadors and this is the image we are called to reflect.


Our only hope of accurately reflecting God in everything we do is to understand that our life is found in Him. If we want to pursue truth, it begins by pursuing Jesus. The value of authenticity reminds us that all our pursuits and efforts must ultimately be about reflecting Christ’s heart to those around us. The pressure we feel about having to reflect the love of Christ in everything we do can push us towards inauthenticity, a “fake it till you make it” trap.  Pursuing true authenticity is critical in all our relationships, both with God as well as those around us.


Valuing authenticity is always others focused. Living authentically in community allows us to share each other’s burdens as well as help each other walk with God. Authentic people are willing to expose their innermost being to God’s Word and let His truth shape their heart. Authenticity doesn’t dwell on the past or remain stuck in the present. Instead it is focused on the person we are becoming and being an individual who lives out their values.


This is my Prayer: Father God, help me to reflect Your heart in everything I do.  Jesus help me stay true to Your values. Lord allow me to see that authenticity involves a process. God open my eyes to the places where I am using authenticity as an excuse to remain the same and not look closely at my behavior and words. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

May 4, 2017, 5:00 AM

Are there areas of your life where you do not live out God freely?

Have you ever had this experience where your individual struggle collides with something eternal, and it feels like crashing face first into God?  Last week a popular Christian devotional that I follow posted this quote, “You can do hard things, but only after you’ve totally freaked out about them.  Once you’ve done that you should be fine.”   The tag line of the post followed up by saying, “Got your back, friend. You can do this! Even if you freak out first, get it all out, have a big sleep, and then get back on your feet.  Love ya.”  It was one of those moments where I felt like the author was speaking directly to me.


Are there areas of your life where you do not live out God freely? I’m constantly pursuing opportunities to do things I’m passionate about.  I want to step up and step into something I feel God calling me to walk forward in.  Usually what happens when I find those opportunities, I become terrified and a bit overwhelmed by doubt that I don’t have what it takes or that my own insecurities will be my downfall. This is what doubt does; its two competing forces vying for our attention. One says you’re not smart enough, people will think you’re a fraud if they really know you, and no one will trust you with this.  A second draws me into something bigger, bolder, and powerful. The intersection between these two forces is where I encounter integrity.


Most of the time my mind looks at thing from a business perspective.  So often I equate integrity with sheer grit, meaning “Doing the right thing when no one is watching.”   It’s almost like a high standard that is set, where we demand honesty and good decision making.  In this line of thinking, integrity is not something to walk in, but rather something to lose.  But biblically, integrity is simply wholeness; living in such a way that our whole being is brought into the light and permeates or encompasses every component of our lives. There is no longer a church self vs. work self vs. home self vs. gym self.  It’s all in all the time; wholly living out God’s working in and through you.


“My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you’ve been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live Him. You’re deeply rooted in Him. You’re well-constructed upon Him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving.” Colossians 2:6-7 MSG


Paul is talking about this kind of life. He’s writing to encourage and extort the people of the church at Colossae.   People just like us, deeply rooted in Christ, who already has the head knowledge.  Now it’s time to start walking in it and living it out.  No more one way church, one way at work, one way at home, or one way with friends.  It’s time to be all in, all the time letting our living spill over into thanksgiving.   This quest for wholeness is scary. I totally get it, and I’m right there with you.


I know that living boldly for God, living with real integrity for who God is asking you to be, fully exposed in that place is possibly one of the hardest things ever to do. We have to remember that integrity isn’t about perfection; it’s about identity, and living in a way that others are drawn into the work that God is doing because they can see Him doing that work in us. You aren’t required to do it perfectly; you’re just required to let God shine through you. In my own situation, I know I’ve got to simply walk it out bravely and boldly, quit worrying about what other people think.  I know God is asking something of me, and I’ve got to start trusting that He will work out the details.  As people of integrity, we must learn to take ourselves with all of our mess and say, “Ok, God, here I am; use me to your fullest.”


This is my Prayer: Father God, help me to become the kind of person who lives with deep integrity, who walks wholly trusting You with the entirety of my life.  Jesus please guide me when it’s really hard, when I’m afraid, and when I feel alone.  Lord mold me into the kind of person who give so freely and so fully that I can be used for big change.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

May 3, 2017, 5:00 AM

How do you deal with your imperfections?

How do you deal with your imperfections? I am an over achiever, one who needs to strive for perfection to feel as though I am measuring up to my full potential. My own standards and pressures usually lead me to failure and leave me feeling imperfect.  I become very aware of my shortcomings and I feel awful; as though I am not measuring up to others.   Sometime I just can’t seem to get it together.  I need to remind myself very often that it’s okay to not be perfect.


How do you think God views your imperfections? I need to remember that I shouldn’t try so hard to be perfect, that’s not why God designed me.  I wasn’t designed to achieve my way into God’s favor; He already loves exactly who I am.  The imperfections I see are part of the perfect person He designed.  God made me and knew of my life even before my parents.” For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:13 God wanted me, took great care in my creation.  He formed every organ, bone and hair to be placed on my head.  How can I not thank God for my creation? David continues Psalm 139 in praise, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” Psalm 139 14-16


When I read that all the days of my life are ordained by God, it stops me in my tracks.  God has allotted things that are going to get done and things that aren’t.  As I begin to get frustrated with myself for not accomplishing what I wanted to accomplish or not get it done to the standard I require of myself, a question comes to mind, “Did God know I would make that mistake and end up here?”  When I realize the answer to that is yes, I realize I am imperfect and I am okay with that, because I am perfect in God’s eyes.  My success or lack thereof does not define me.  I am part of God’s perfect creation, made in His image to do His works for His kingdom.  Being a child of God is the one truth that should define me; it’s about time I start living like it.


This is my Prayer: Father God, thank you for creating me and taking such care to define who I would be. Jesus I am so grateful to know You and to be part of Your plan for the world.  Lord help me to live like a child of Your creation realizing that I am perfect in You just as I am, no other effort required.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57   Entries 191-195 of 283