Posted in christian, christianity, Faith, spiritual

The Signs of Drifting


Hebrews 2:1-3

Regularly gathering in the house of the Lord with brothers and sisters in Christ provides an “anchor” of support and accountability. But skipping church in order to pursue other interests is an obvious sign that a believer has begun to drift away from God. Less apparent are the men and women who mentally skip the worship service. The act of attending means nothing unless we make a deliberate decision to receive God’s Word and apply it to our life. As the writer of Hebrews warned, if we do not pay attention to what we have heard, we will drift away from it.

However, Sunday morning is not the only time for receiving a steady diet of nourishing principles and encouragement from the Bible. We should be in its pages every day, reading and meditating for ourselves. When our interest in what God has to say decreases, we’re already slipping out into troublesome waters. The only way to keep our way pure is by following His Word (Ps. 119:9).

If Bible reading is neglected, a prayer life has usually faded as well. Prayer is the way believers communicate with the Navigator. If we stop talking with Him, the God who once seemed so close soon feels far away. That chasm in our spirit is one more sign that we’re far from shore and safety.

I’ve watched many a captain guide his cruise ship through a narrow channel. The crew members are intensely focused on their tasks because drifting means disaster. Life is full of narrow channels to navigate. We cannot afford to drift away from God and His Word. Only He can bring us safely through.

Reposted from Crosswalk.com

Advertisements
Posted in christian, christianity, Faith, spiritual

Grace Understands


Grace is when someone hurts you and you try to understand their situation instead of trying to hurt them back
Posted in christian, christianity, Faith, Irony, Prayer, spiritual

There is Always Something You Don’t Know


Reposted from Radical Mentoring

A lot of us work somewhere that’s not ‘headquarters.’ Not ‘corporate.’ Not ‘the home office.’ That was me once. When the orders were handed down to us in the field, they sometimes seemed dumb. Out of touch with the real-world situation on the ground. I’d say, “What are they thinking up in the ivory tower?”

Then it happened.

I was promoted and transferred to corporate. One of my first tasks was complicated with all kinds of HR and union concerns . . . things I had no knowledge of a few weeks earlier. When the new instructions went out to the field, my phone lit up. “Regi, what are you thinking?” “It sure didn’t take you long to forget what it’s like out here.” “You’re just like the rest of them . . . out of touch and totally insensitive to the headaches you’re creating for us out here!”

My boss picked up on it. He took me aside and taught me something I’ve never forgotten. He said, “There’s always something you don’t know.” In a lower-level job or a remote position, there are things people ‘upstairs’ know that you don’t. We never have the whole picture.

This same principle applies in everyday relationships. When your wife comes home acting cross and impatient, there’s something you don’t know. When someone races past then cuts you off in traffic, there’s something you don’t know. When your teammate turns critical and negative, there’s something you don’t know.

And when God doesn’t cause or allow things to work out the way you want them to, there’s something you don’t know. A lot of what we don’t know will never be known until we’re there with God in the next life.

Lean into what you do know. God is good, and God loves you. That’s really all you need to know.

Posted in christian, christianity, Faith, healing, Mentoring, Positive News, spiritual

The Kind of Love that Marks a Christian


Reposted From Crosswalk.com

Who God Loves above All Others

Why does the Great Commandment instruct us to love God first, others second? Because this is the order in which God himself loves. God’s love did not begin in Genesis 1:1. It is eternal, existing before creation, having found eternal expression within the Trinity. It required no object outside the Godhead. We love because he first loved us. He loves us, having first and eternally loved himself.

Self-love is not always commendable in humans. While loving ourselves accurately is good, and even necessary for loving our neighbor, the Bible also speaks to the negative category of those who are “lovers of self” (2 Tim. 3:2). We have all known people whom we would label as an egotists, those who think of themselves more highly than they should. Egotism is an impossibility for God. He is irreproachably a lover of self, being the only one worthy of total love. For God not to love himself would be irrational. God’s worth is infinite, making him alone worthy to receive infinite self-love, as well as the unqualified adoration and veneration of everything in creation. It is impossible for anyone, including God, to love God too much.

We Can Love the Love of God Too Much

But it is possible for us to love the love of God too much. We do this when we emphasize the love of God at the expense of his other attributes. Sin can cause us to love a version of God that is not accurate. This is the basic definition of idolatry, a disordered love. Ironically, one of the most common forms our idolatry takes is the disordered love of the love of God. The overemphasis of God’s love is even evident in non-Christians. They may know very little of the Bible, yet many know and are quick to quote the truism that “God is love” (1 John 4:8). The statement “My God is a God of love” often has as its subtext the idea that his love precludes him ever acting in wrath or justice, or in any way that does not fit our human conceptions of love.

All of God’s Actions Are Loving

But God’s love is both holy and infinite, which means that all his actions are loving, even when we cannot perceive them to be so. Not only are all his actions loving, but all he withholds or refrains from doing is also loving. When God acts in Scripture in ways we perceive to be unloving, the problem is not with his actions but with our limited perspective. When we endure hardship or loss, we may be tempted to question whether God loves us. This is why the Bible takes such care to remind us that hardship and loss are to be expected in this life. Hardship and loss are agents of separation, but nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ. It is high and long, wide and deep, and if we fix our eyes on it, perhaps we may be able to begin to grasp some of that even in this lifetime.

And as we grasp it, we can then press it upon our neighbor.

Love without Bounds

Once we recognize that the love God has bestowed upon us is not merely an emotion but an act of the will, we are forced to reevaluate how we love others. Specifically, we must reevaluate our categories. No longer can we parse our fellow humans into the categories of “lovable” and “unlovable.”

If love is an act of the will—not motivated by need, not measuring worth, not requiring reciprocity—then there is no such category as “unlovable.” This is what Jesus teaches in the parable of the good Samaritan. When the lawyer seeks to qualify the meaning of the Great Commandment by asking, “And who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29), Jesus responds with a story about a man who shows love to the “unlovable.” It is, of course, a story about himself—and a story about everyone of us who has received rescue at his hands. As the parable is careful to illustrate, it is a costly and unsought rescue, an unsought rescue, bestowed upon an undeserving recipient

Love, No Matter the Cost

The costliness of agape is evident in the cross. Thus, those who resolve to take up their cross resolve to love as Christ loved, in a costly manner.

When we begin to follow Christ, we resolve to love God even if it costs us. And it does cost us—it costs us our pride, our comfort, our self-will, our self-sufficiency. At times, it costs us amicable relationships with family, our expectation of safety, and more. But in laying these aside, we learn the worthiness of the object of our love in a deeper way. We find increasing freedom, and as we mature, we resolve to love God no matter what it costs us.

Loving Our Neighbor Costs

When we begin to follow Christ, we resolve to love our neighbor even if it costs us. And it does cost us—it costs us our preferences, our time, our financial resources, our entitlement, our stereotypes. At times, it costs us our popularity, respect, and more. But in laying these aside, we learn the brokenness of the object of our love in a deeper way. We find increasing empathy, and as we mature, we resolve to love our neighbor no matter what it costs us.

This is the kind of love that marks believers as distinct from the world. What is the will of God for your life? That you love as you have been loved. When faced with a decision, ask yourself: Which choice enables me to grow in agape for God and others? And then choose according to his will.

Posted in christian, christianity, Faith, spiritual

Spiritual Gifts


ll the billions of Christ followers over the last two-thousand years have this in common:  “A spiritual gift is given to each of us” (1 Corinthians 12:7). God’s body has no nobodies. No exceptions…no exclusions. Our gifts make an eternal difference only in concert with the church. Apart from the body of Christ, we are like clipped fingernails or shaved whiskers and cut hair. Who needs them? He grants gifts so we can “prepare God’s holy people” (Ephesians 4:11-12).

Paul reached into a medical dictionary for this term. Doctors used it to describe the setting of a broken bone. Broken people come to churches. Not with broken bones, but broken hearts, broken homes, broken dreams, and broken lives. And if the church operates as the church, they find healing.  All members help to heal brokenness, “to make the body of Christ stronger!”

Reposted from Max Lucado

Posted in christian, christianity, Faith, Mentoring, Positive News, spiritual

The Difference Between Fathers and Mentors


Reposted from Radical Mentoring

Fathers can be mentors, but mentors aren’t necessarily fathers. Mentors choose to mentor, but once a man becomes a father, he is always the father. I believe that’s why God chose the father-son paradigm to explain the relationship He wants with us. God as the permanent, perfect, never going away, never giving up, always giving and forgiving Father. And me, the beloved but immature son.

Because our role as a father is permanent and not optional, it’s easy to live it out unintentionally. To relax into routine, blindly replicating what our fathers did. Responding to our kids out of authority and arrogance versus love and understanding.

And it’s easy to take fathers for granted. Our kids get used to receiving the love we give and the way we give it. Over time, it’s routine. And invisible.

Mentoring is for a season. Fathering is permanent. Mentoring is usually around a goal, or a specific skill (i.e., I mentor to lead men toward God-centric lives.) Fathering isn’t specific. It offers opportunity and duty. It has no limits. It’s about finances, health, life skills, family responsibilities, and submission to authority.

As a father, mentoring is an ‘above and beyond’ opportunity. One of my greatest blessings was having my son in one of my mentoring groups. Stepping into the role of mentor helped us reframe our relationship into a more mature one. It added objectivity for both of us. It wasn’t just dear ol’ dad harping on something. It was group assignments where the value was apparent, and the whole group was involved. Looking at me, seated at the head of the table, facilitating the conversation and sharing my heart, he saw an older, wiser man who wanted to add value. Rather than a critical, meddling, overreaching dad trying to change his son.

This being a holiday week, offers an excellent opportunity for a check-up on our fathering work. Find a time to get each of your children off to the side and ask this question . . .

“Tell me three things I can do (or stop doing) to be a better father for you?”

Don’t argue. Don’t defend. If you ask questions, make sure they’re for clarification, not opposition. As soon as you can, get somewhere and write them down. Word for word. Next week, ask God to show you what He would have you know from this, and what He’d have you do with what you’ve been shown. Set some goals, put some to-dos on your calendar and follow through.

As you look at this feedback from your kids, look for opportunities to mentor. Think about what they are interested in learning or doing . . . areas where you might be able to mentor them.

Posted in christian, christianity, Faith, Prayer, spiritual

How to Tell If Your Struggles Are from You, God, or Satan


Reposted from Crosswalk

If you’ve been a believer for much time, you’ve been faced with this question at least once in your spiritual life. “Is the battle I’m facing from God, myself, or the Devil?” 

Depending on what side of the church tracks you live on, we can easily give credit to any one of them. I’ve heard the phrases, “God is trying to teach you a lesson” or “The devil is attacking you” in the very same community of believers. What about human choice? Don’t we have a part to play in what we are experiencing?

Our winning and losing in our everyday lives will depend on our understanding of the battle and with whom we are fighting. We won’t be dominant over the enemy until we see this life-or-death fight up close and personal.

The War is Over

The enemy of our souls would love nothing more than for each of us to believe we are fighting for victory and not from victory.  When Christ died on the cross in our place to pay the penalty of sin, the war was over. Spoiler alert: We Won! God has the whole world in His hands and has made a way for us to spend eternity with Him.

So, why do we struggle? Because we still live on the earth. We have a real enemy, and as long as we are alive, we will have to deal with him. We have nothing to fear. If we are living our life in Christ, we will always be more powerful than anything that comes our way. But, the Bible is clear that we aren’t to be ignorant of our enemy.

The Devil is an Angel with a God Complex

You may think of God and the Devil as equal and opposing figures fighting each other from two different sides, much like the cartoon image we have of a devil and an angel perched on someone’s shoulders. But we need to be clear: The story of God and the Devil isn’t one of two gods fighting each other. The Devil is an angel with a God complex. His power and authority are only in his possession because God has allowed him to continue for the time being.

The Devil is a Liar

The only way to know if it’s your enemy is to understand his exact characteristics. Your enemy’s whole purpose in life is to get you to believe a lie about God.  It started in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. His lies sound like, “God isn’t that good” or “God’s not telling you the whole truth.”  The lies always go deeper, “God made a mistake when he made you” or “God’s not going to help you.” All grounded in lies about God. One of his greatest and most powerful lies always begins with your identity. It sounds like, “You can’t do it” or “ You don’t have what it takes.” His words are wrapped in fear, anxiety, and shame.

The Devil is an Accuser

Our enemy loves to accuse us. He’s known as the accuser of the brethren (Revelations 12).

Once we begin to live in spiritual confidence, he uses another lie. “Who do you think you are?” often trying to accuse us of pride and arrogance. He loves to use accusation to stop us in our tracks. An accusation is claiming someone is doing something wrong. Our enemy will never stop there. He will always go further hoping we believe the lie, “You are wrong” or “You were made wrong.”  Accusations are dangerous because they will always distract us from our real purpose, which is to live in the abundant life Christ died to give us.

The Devil is a Thief

In John 10:10 it depicts our enemies exact character. It says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;”

The word steal in the Greek is the word klepto. It’s where we get the word kleptomaniac, which means, someone who steals for the thrill of taking. When the enemy operates in our lives, he is stealing from us as well. We may not realize it as it’s happening, but eventually, we feel the sense of loss and see that what is rightfully ours has been taken from us. If we want to walk in daily victory, we must remember that the enemy comes into our lives as a thief.

The Devil Wants Us to Sacrifice

In John 10:10 it uses the word kill, but it doesn’t mean what you might assume. The word kill in the Greek is Thuo, which means to sacrifice. “God’s not coming through for you!” or “You are not going to experience it!” are the enemy’s smoke screens.  When the enemy comes to kill, he’s hoping you will sacrifice everything God has given you. He tells you that you have waited too long, believed for too much, and seen nothing happen. You might as well throw in the towel. The crazy thing is, we believe his lies. The Devil may not have to steal very much from us—especially if we are already giving it away.

Living Spiritually Alert

(…To keep Satan from taking advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his schemes” (2:11 amp). 

Paul points out, “We are not ignorant of his schemes.” I have often heard the phrase, “Ignorance is bliss,” which suggests that if I don’t know something, then life is more comfortable, relaxed, and peaceful for me. But ignorance is not a godly way of living. Being ignorant of the enemy’s schemes only leaves us vulnerable to his tactics.

Being spiritually illiterate doesn’t mean the enemy will leave us alone. It means we are more likely to make critical mistakes due to a lack of full understanding. Ignorance will hurt us and leave us confused, dejected, and deceived. God did not call us to be spiritually blind; he called us to be spiritually alert.