God’s Reach through Seasons

season-dont-waste-your-season-life-seasons-seasons-with-god-embrace-your-season1God doesn’t just use one season for the next. We can tell each other that God works all things for our good and for His glory, yet we often use that thinking to convince ourselves that whatever we’re going through surely have purpose. It will turn into something. It will not only be purposeful but also beneficial. The soil of today grows the flowers of tomorrow.

But some of the stuff of today is manure. Sure, it might fertilize the flowers of tomorrow, and we might understand the purpose it has, but we still don’t like it. We’d rather distance ourselves from it. Not to mention all the things in our lives that need to be pruned and deadheaded. God doesn’t just turn everything in our lives into something useful. He gets rid of some things because of their detrimental effects. He doesn’t just use one season to produce the next. He brings one out from another. God knows the core of each one, and He reaches in to grasp the necessities that need to be pulled into the next.

We can’t understand the purpose of everything in each season of our lives, but we can trust God to be purposeful.

The Blessing of Vulnerability

Sometimes we find ourselves in vulnerable positions and situations. When we honor God with our response, He works through us in our vulnerabilities. Jesus was certainly in the most vulnerable position of all times. And God used Him in the most powerful way ever.

Let God use you. Yes, you’re vulnerable. It feels awkward and uncomfortable. You’re uncertain of your abilities. You don’t know how to clear up the confusion. You don’t know which way to go next. And to make matters worse, you are surrounded by people, and they’re watching your response.

But it’s okay. God has you surrounded. He doesn’t protect you from everything but He uses your willingness to trust Him through your vulnerability.

And He is trustworthy.

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Worship Today and Just Be Held

When you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
If your eyes are on the storm
You’ll wonder if I love you still
But if your eyes are on the cross
You’ll know I always have and I always will

Are You Better Off?

indexI was recently reading a book on church leadership that put forth a question to people:

“Are you better off five years after joining the church?”

It doesn’t have to be just about joining a church. I prefer to rephrase it a bit to ask, “Are you better off spiritually since…?” Then insert whatever you thought would have helped you grow spiritually. Perhaps it’s serving more, attending worship services more often, journalling or reading more, meeting with a mentor or mentoring someone else, asking more questions, building more relationships, and so on. Or are you continuing to go through the motions but you haven’t truly changed? Are you content to check a task off your to-do list or calendar app and pat yourself on the back?

Involvement requires investment, sacrifice, and change. It will challenge and grow you. Sometimes growth happens by leaps and bounds and other times it’s gradual. Sometimes you’ll take a huge leap forward then coast for so long that you end up losing more ground than you gained. That’s why it’s important to reflect on chunks of time instead of asking yourself if you changed since last week.

However, if we’re intent on changing through daily and weekly situations, we can be certain to change over longer periods of time. But are we changing well? All change and growth isn’t good. Are we content to define what “better off spiritually” means, or do we have a open mind and heart to considering what the truth of that phrase is? Do we let our assumptions and backgrounds define it, or do we ask questions? Do we look for affirmation or for challenging correction and conviction?

The quick answer to “Are you better off spiritually…?” is “Yes!” But is that the truth? Commit to soaking in the question and asking God for direction as you seek the answer. Growth always involves humility, patience, and purposeful pursuit.

Lean Into Lent: Day 2

Lent is a preparation, a spiritually-disciplined journey, a purposeful reflection on Jesus Christ.

Then He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, be killed, and rise after three days. He was openly talking about this. So Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him.

But turning around and looking at His disciples, He rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind Me, Satan, because you’re not thinking about God’s concerns, but man’s!”

Summoning the crowd along with His disciples, He said to them, “If anyone wants to be My follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me and the gospel will save it. For what does it benefit a man to gain the whole world yet lose his life? What can a man give in exchange for his life? For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:31-38)

The Lord helps all who fall;
He raises up all who are oppressed.
All eyes look to You,
and You give them their food at the proper time.
You open Your hand
and satisfy the desire of every living thing.

The Lord is righteous in all His ways
and gracious in all His acts.
The Lord is near all who call out to Him,
all who call out to Him with integrity.
He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him;
He hears their cry for help and saves them.
The Lord guards all those who love Him,
but He destroys all the wicked.
My mouth will declare Yahweh’s praise;
let every living thing
praise His holy name forever and ever. (Psalm 145:14-21)

  • Read today’s verses multiple times, aloud when possible.
  • Write something that stands out to you on a sticky note, and carry it with you throughout the day.
  • Journal sometime throughout the day or write reflections in the comments section below each post.
  • Refuse to treat this daily reading as something you “have to” do. Challenge yourself to lean into the verses, open your heart to them, and journey toward Jesus through them.

Lean into Lent: An Invitation to Journey

Today is Ash Wednesday on the church calendar. It’s the day that marks the first day of Lent, the 40-day ascent toward Easter (Sundays aren’t included in the count of 40 days), when Jesus Christ overcame death after sacrificing His life for yours and mine.

Some of us grew up with a Lent characterized by fasting from something in sacrifice and preparation. Some of us have little idea what Lent is and only know Ash Wednesday as the odd day when we encounter people who have a smudge on their foreheads. We could get into all kinds of doctrinal details of Lent, but let’s stick with the basics:

Lent is a preparation, a spiritually-disciplined journey, a purposeful reflection on Jesus Christ.

Maybe you’re not sure who Jesus truly is, or perhaps you’re carrying around your childhood notion of Him.

I invite you to take a journey–not with me, but with Jesus.

Each day through Easter Sunday, I’ll post Scripture verses to read. I challenge you to read them first thing in the morning and reflect on them throughout the day.

  • Read them multiple times, aloud when possible.
  • Write something that stands out to you on a sticky note, and carry it with you throughout the day.
  • Journal sometime throughout the day or write reflections in the comments section below each post.
  • Refuse to treat the daily reading as something you “have to” do. Challenge yourself to lean into the verses, open your heart to them, and journey toward Jesus through them.

Each Sunday, I’ll announce the overall theme or focus for the week. Each day, I will give you little more than the verses themselves. It’s not what I have to say about them that is important. It’s what God says about them. So I want to stay out of the way. Let the Holy Spirit pour into you, challenge you, and nourish you.

If you are purposeful, disciplined, and humble, I am certain you will get to know Jesus better by leaning into Lent.

Let’s get started with today’s reading:

Blow the horn in Zion;
sound the alarm on My holy mountain!
Let all the residents of the land tremble,
for the Day of the Lord is coming;
in fact, it is near—
a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and dense overcast,
like the dawn spreading over the mountains;
a great and strong people appears,
such as never existed in ages past
and never will again
in all the generations to come. 

Even now—
this is the Lord’s declaration—
turn to Me with all your heart,
with fasting, weeping, and mourning.
Tear your hearts,
not just your clothes,
and return to the Lord your God.
For He is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger, rich in faithful love,
and He relents from sending disaster.
(Joel 2:1-2, 12-13)

Jesus went out with His disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the road He asked His disciples, “Who do people say that I am?”

They answered Him, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, one of the prophets.”

“But you,” He asked them again, “who do you say that I am?”

Peter answered Him, “You are the Messiah!”

And He strictly warned them to tell no one about Him. (Mark 8:27-30)

Trying to Help Without Assuming Too Much

We have a responsibility to people God has placed around us. Scriptures are full of “one another” statements:

Love one another.

Be at peace with one another.

Forgive one another.

Accept one another.

Speak truth to one another.

Comfort one another.

Encourage one another.

Teach one another.

Admonish one another.

Pray for one another.

Yet we cannot control each other. People have choices, and they are responsible for those choices. Sometimes we have to make tough decisions as we care for others. We need to do something (or NOT do something) for someone because it is what is best in the long run. Or sometimes, we do what is best in the moment, because in some way, it works into the best for the long run. We do our best to steward relationships, but we don’t have full control…or full wisdom. We will mess up. So will they. But God can fill the gaps and turn the potter’s wheel. He can rework us and seal the cracks of insufficiencies, weaknesses, and errors. He will give us strength and purpose as we invite and allow Him.

We have a responsibility to others but not for them. That is in God’s control and wisdom. And that gives me comfort and peace.