Get Warm. Share the Light.

fireThe concept of rekindling a relationship isn’t a foreign concept to most people. It’s a strenuous process. Rekindling a relationship is usually not as simply as rekindling a fire, which can often be done by throwing a chunk of fuel on it, poking it with a stick, and blowing strong puffs of wind on it. Rekindling a relationship takes a more gentle touch, and it usually takes perseverance and patience.

One relationship we might not consider in the context of rekindling is our relationship with God. Perhaps it’s because we take it for granted and easily overlook it. We think it “just is,” that it really doesn’t change all that much, and we haven’t let it die out, so why would we need to rekindle it? However, have you really never let your relationship with God ebb and flow? Has it not cooled off during various seasons of your life? Have other priorities taken the majority of your time and energy so that you’ve neglected your relationship with God? Any relationship left unattended will atrophy.

If your relationship with God isn’t as close as it can be, it’s not God who has stepped away and created distance. God is always present and always available. Bemoaning the distance won’t help. Acknowledge the distance, then take steps to rekindle the relationship.

Remember who God is. Claim Him as your Creator and ultimate authority of your life.

Recommit to seek God today…and tomorrow’s todays.

Rely on the Holy Spirit to guide and provide in every situation.

Renew your commitment to trust Jesus as the Lord and Savior of your daily life.

Take it one day at a time. Before long, you will be warmed in God’s presence, and you’ll share the light with those around you.

One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord
And to meditate in His temple.
For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle;
In the secret place of His tent He will hide me;
He will lift me up on a rock.
And now my head will be lifted up above my enemies around me,
And I will offer in His tent sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing, yes, I will sing praises to the Lord. (Psalm 27:4-6)

Life with Attitude

Rejoice_title_1024x1024What makes you rejoice? What brings you great delight? Does what prompts you to rejoice bring great delight to God? Joy is a firm confidence that all is well regardless of the circumstances. Philippians 3:1 says “Be full of joy in the Lord.” God is the source of joy, and God is the object of joy. We rejoice because God is who He says He is, and that means we can trust Him, fully relying on His guidance and provision through any circumstance. Our joy isn’t circumstantial, because our faith isn’t circumstantial. We rejoice because of God but also with God. As we live close to God, we experience life with the glimpse of His perspective. Because God has the big picture, we can trust there is always hope, and if nothing else, we can rejoice in hope.

Knowing God, being in a dynamic relationship with Him, transcends any and all temporal circumstance. Knowing God is inextricably connected with obeying God, and obeying God gives us peace and assurance even in uncertainties. Life isn’t fair, but God is.

The thing is…whether or not life is fair is irrelevant. God doesn’t want us to get stuck in this life. He wants to correct our eyesight so we see into eternity. This life on earth is important, because it’s where we live out our faith. We seek, learn and grow. God doesn’t want us to waste one minute of it. That’s not to say we’re supposed to be perfect. After all, we often learn most through those trials. We experience the most intense joy after a dark night. God doesn’t want us to waste life, not because it’s about us, but because, ultimately, it’s about Him and our relationship with Him. Are you rejoicing through life with God?

Rejecting Sin with Love

hateloveWe must reject what is against God’s will. He commands us to love one another. “Love the sinner, hate the sin” is a common phrase to describe how we’re to respond to people who are engaging in behavior contrary to God’s will. Most Christians have struggled with how to live this out in specific circumstances. It’s perhaps one of the most commonly asked questions: “How can I love the person without giving her the impression that I approve of what she’s doing?” You can’t do it with your own strength and love. God’s love is unconditional, but it’s also corrective. God loves you even though you don’t live every moment of your life exactly the way He wants you to live. Even when you’re seeking His will and intending to live every moment for Him, you’re going to make some poor judgments. You’re human. But God still loves you.

He also loves the person beside you. You might not know how to share your love, but you can share God’s love, because God says she’s worthy. You don’t have to have every detail of the relationship figured out. You simply must follow God’s lead. That means staying invested in the relationship as long as God leads you to stay invested—and not a moment longer or shorter. People are in our lives for seasons, so you will have limited impact on people. Following God’s lead means you’ll speak up in some situations and be silent in others. It’s how God leads. You have to be content that you don’t have the answers—God does. He knows how to express His love much better than you do. When you respond out of what makes sense to you instead of what God is directing you to do, you run the risk of not only rejecting the person or sending the wrong message but also of rejecting God yourself. When you ignore His lead, you’re putting others and yourself in front of your relationship with Him. And that’s certainly not ever His will.

But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude 17-25)

Free Water

water (7)The One on the throne said to me, “It is finished. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give free water from the spring of the water of life to anyone who is thirsty. Those who win the victory will receive this, and I will be their God, and they will be my children. Revelation 21:6-7

God is.

That’s it. Pure and simple. God is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. There has never been and will never be life without him. There is nothing that escapes his awareness. There is nothing outside of his reach. That includes you.

Perhaps you acknowledge him as Creator. You accept him as Savior. But what now? We can easily think of our relationship with God as a one-time decision when, in reality, it’s a relationship that is alive and growing. God desires to engage with us. He doesn’t abandon us. He fulfills every promise and hears every concern. He attends to our needs and often entertains our wants. Most of all, he longs to be the desire of our hearts.

When we have a thriving relationship with Jesus, we live out the truth that he is our Lord and Savior. He fulfilled a promise to us to give us eternal life, to sacrifice himself in place of our sins. He showed us unmerited grace and mercy out of his love for us. He endured pain so he could spare us an eternity of torment. He is our Savior.

But he’s also our Lord. That means he is in charge of our lives – not just the areas of life we don’t want anymore, not just the areas we’re uncertain about or struggling with, not just the areas we think we’ve cleaned up enough on our own to present as acceptable to him. When we accept him as Lord, we yield our lives to him. We let him guide us through the big things and the tiny ones. He cares about it all, and he doesn’t require we be at a certain place before he helps. He doesn’t wait until we’re in our Sunday best before he reveals himself. He doesn’t ever withhold his guidance and provision.

We thirst. God quenches.

Aren’t you thankful?

Live It. At some point throughout the day, preferably right in the middle of a busy time, stop. Quiet yourself to take a deep sip of God’s will. Let him nourish you to do his will. Let him fill you with his will, guiding and convicting you to be on his path. Where he leads, he will equip.

False Teachings

G.B.Y.Logos.1Those false teachers are like springs without water and clouds blown by a storm. A place in the blackest darkness has been kept for them. They brag with words that mean nothing. By their evil desires they lead people into the trap of sin—people who are just beginning to escape from others who live in error. 2 Peter 2:17-18

We seek springs with fresh, flowing water, but not every spring is nourishing to us. We must learn to discern who to follow and who not to follow.

Once upon a time, not so long ago, we didn’t have access to vast information the way we do today. Information can be truthful, but information isn’t inherently truthful. When you ask a search engine a question, are you looking for information or truth?

A problem arises when we argue that truth is relative, depending on who is seeking and why. When truth is assumed relative, nothing is reliable. There’s no difference between fact and opinion, good and evil, real and imaginary. Questions of purpose, personhood, and faith appear to be unessential. Purpose, faith, and life seem to float in air – with no firm foundation.

When we become information-driven instead of truth-driven, we don’t change reality as much as we might think we do. We deceive ourselves into thinking we’re much more powerful than we are. We don’t define ourselves, our world, or the reality of either. We don’t – and can’t – change truth. There is foundational truth in life, and there’s a search engine you can use to seek it.

It’s God. You can access some accurate information using search engines such as Google and Bing, but when you search God, you’ll always find truth. It’s a different sort of search. It’s not instantaneous. It’s often a journey of one question leading to another and another. You’ll often reveal pieces of truth and continue to fit new pieces as you search more.

Searching God isn’t as easy as using a search engine, because it’s based in a relationship. Relationships are ongoing, challenging, developing.

Would you rather have a relationship filled with effort but also filled with truth or an impersonal, brief, uncertain interaction? Do you want to search passively or actively?

Live It. Notice opposites or things that don’t match throughout your day: salt and pepper, green and red traffic lights, loud and soft sounds. Practice noticing the details and differences. As you become more aware of what’s around you, you can become more in tune with what details God is pointing out to you to determine the differences between his true teachings and all false teachings.

Water the Seed

seed1A farmer went out to plant his seed. While he was planting, some seed fell by the road. People walked on the seed, and the birds ate it up. Some seed fell on rock, and when it began to grow, it died because it had no water. Some seed fell among thorny weeds, but the weeds grew up with it and choked the good plants. And some seed fell on good ground and grew and made a hundred times more…The seed that fell on rock is like those who hear God’s teaching and accept it gladly, but they don’t allow the teaching to go deep into their lives. They believe for a while, but when trouble comes, they give up. Luke 8:5-8, 13

Seed will die without water. Water provides the nourishment it needs. It’s just one aspect of nourishment, but without it, the seed will die. The same is true about our faith. In order to grow, we have to have water. We have to receive the nourishment God provides for us.

When have you experienced a dry season of faith? What did it feel like? How did you respond?

Our relationship with God won’t automatically grow. No relationship will automatically grow. Any relationship will default to atrophy. Without intentionality, we’ll become distant. We’ll question the importance of the relationship. We’ll wonder why we were in the relationship in the first place and might even begin to reframe it in negative ways, justifying why we’re no longer in it.

Faith takes nurturing. If ignored, it will cease to grow at all or grow in unhealthy ways. We have to pay attention. We have to invest. And we have to remember the relationship is not just about us. Our relationship is with God, which means he has significant input. We have to listen to him. We have to become familiar with him. We have to respect him. He is God and doesn’t need to prove his trustworthiness and sovereignty, but his consistency proves it in time as we interact with and rely upon him.

We pray, not just sharing requests but praising God and allowing him to pour his encouragement and admonishment into us. We study, not just for head knowledge but for heart knowledge, placing intimacy with God far above familiarity for trivia. We worship, not just during a weekend service but as a lifestyle, striving to praise and honor him in everything we do.

Live It. How is God challenging you to become more intimate with him today, pouring life-sustaining water into you? Don’t wait. Respond today. Small steps are fine. Inactivity is not.

The Perspective of Faith

Today’s post is excerpted from the Pure Purpose Bible study. Order a copy for yourself, a gift, or small group.

PureFaithCoverLowRes“When all is said and done, the life of faith is nothing if not an unending struggle of the spirit with every available weapon against the flesh.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

The perspective of faith is difficult and easy. Difficult, because faith requires us to assume and trust God’s perspective in all things, yet we’re limited in our perspectives, so we only get a glimpse of what God sees and knows. Easy, because faith grounds us in certainty…even when we’re uncertain about the certainty. Because God is trustworthy, we can trust him for his perspective and we can trust him with our lives. We won’t always understand, but we can always find certainty in faith, because faith inherently includes certainty.

All these people are known for their faith, but none of them received what God had promised. God planned to give us something better so that they would be made perfect, but only together with us. (Hebrews 11:39-40)

Our best effort to assume a godly perspective of faith is to know God and live his Word.

We cannot always know God’s will. We want the answers handed to us when we sometimes don’t even know what questions to ask. If we ask the questions we should ask, we sometimes don’t really want to hear and abide by the answers we get! God’s will is not a mystery if we search for it, but the question is: Are we willing to accept what God reveals as his will, or will we instead decide to hide behind pride and presumptions?

A common question when searching for God’s will is “What does God want me to do?” We can ask this question with sincere intentions, but it’s a question that too easily leads us down a path of what if, either/or, if/then, and so on. Our logic starts to kick in, and our preferences and assumptions can too easily get in the way and cloud our sight and hearing. Perhaps a better question to ask is “Who is God?”…with a follow up of “And based on who God is, how does he want me to respond?”

When we seek the “who” instead of the “what,” “how,” or “why,” we’re less likely to get discombobulated.  The answer still might not be clear, but it also won’t be clouded with the additional questions that can easily lead us down a rabbit trail tangled with our opinions, experiences, and pride.

When I was a young mom, it was difficult for me to put God first in a practical, everyday sense. I thought putting God first meant applying myself to spiritual disciplines, such as prayer and Bible reading and study. I absolutely loved spending as much time as possible in those areas, but I felt an urgent call to help when a daughter needed her diaper changed, meals needed to be prepared, naptime needed to start immediately (or was suddenly over), and many other things that, at times, seemed to nearly crush me under the to-do list. Plus, I was trying to be a good wife, which apparently was supposed to fall somewhere between putting God first and being a good mom. Because I couldn’t handle keeping even two of those in perspective, keeping three prioritized seemed disappointedly impossible.  I felt like a failure. Even on the days I felt like an adequate wife and a decent mom, I was still failing—at least, by my perspective—as a Christ-follower.

It wasn’t an identity crisis. It was a spiritual misapplication. I was setting myself up for failure by holding myself to a standard God never intended. I needed to stop seeing God at the top of everything and instead place him in the center of everything.

Perhaps it’s just semantics, but the shift worked for me. I stopped defining my efforts as failures of faith and began defining every role and responsibility as an opportunity for faith. It was the same basic concept, but a slight change significantly altered my outlook and faith journey.

When I placed God in the center of everything, I realized I wasn’t choosing my daughters over him when I played with them in the yard and walked to the library. I wasn’t choosing my husband over God when I helped him with a house project or watched football. When God is in the center, he touches everything. I consider God’s perspective no matter what I’m doing. I find significance in the most mundane tasks, because I acknowledge there is purpose in it even if I’m uncertain as to what the particular purpose is. When God is at the center of everything, I’m confident the purpose of what I’m doing is to follow and honor him. When I follow and honor him, I’m placing him in the center of everything.

It’s not simply that God is first in everything. He is the absolute foundation of everything. He is invested in everything. He is interested in everything. That is true whether I acknowledge his investment and interest or not. My distortion of God’s position in my life doesn’t change his position. He will always passionately pursue me. What can catapult me farther and faster in spiritual growth is my willingness to line up my life with his will. I can shift my perspective and priorities so that he seems to be off to the side, but he’s still in the center. I’ve simply distorted what I see as reality. God is the center, and when I line up my life with who he is and who he says he created me to be, I have the full assurance of him impacting the practical details of my everyday life.

No matter what I’m doing, God is in the center and emanates to reach every circumstance in the circumference of my life. Claiming God as the center of your life is what a perspective of faith is all about.

The will of God has more to do with controlling our hearts than planning and meeting goals. Seek first God’s kingdom and what God wants. Then all your other needs will be met as well. (Matthew 6:33) God wants us to surrender our own plans and will, not because we’re giving up but because we’re giving him ourselves. When we place him in the center of everything, we’re declaring his way is better. We follow him, because he has a better perspective and, therefore, a better plan and will! We are limited; God is not. But Jesus said to them, “My Father never stops working, and so I keep working, too.” (John 5:17)

We must remember that we follow a person, not an idea. We have a relationship with Jesus. We don’t just believe in Jesus; we believe him. And it is because of that belief that we follow him. A problem arises when we think Jesus is supposed to give us the details of every single decision and direction we face. However, we don’t even need the details that we so desperately think we need. We want step-by-step directions, the same that we can print or depend on our phones to recite to us. But we don’t need those details. We simply need to follow Jesus. He will give us the details we need. What does that look like?

Consider a carrier pigeon. A carrier pigeon doesn’t have all the details. He can’t read the delivery address let alone have a wifi connection that gives him step-by-step instructions. He knows “home.” He knows where he belongs. He might fly in a circle a few times to get ready and make sure he’s properly oriented, but he’ll then hone in on the direction of home and fly in that direction. We need to be so intimately honed into Jesus that we know the direction we need to move. We don’t need to wait for the step-by-step. He’ll reveal what we need to know along the way. We need to trust that his perspective is the perspective we need—the perspective of faith.

“I do not know the way that I take but well do I know my guide.” (Martin Luther)

Where are you going to be a year from now, five years, or twenty years? If you’re honing in on Jesus, you’ll be closer to him as you journey in faith!

What would your life be like if you completely trusted God?