Do you walk through life with your head held lower than is needed? Are you hindered or tangled up by accusations, misunderstandings and/or sin? Have you somehow come to believe that this marred, somewhat hopeless life must be all that God has for you? Deep down – often deeper than you'd like to go – do you feel harassed and helpless?
It might be that you have tried to address your “stuff.” Possibly you’ve acknowledged your need and/or errors to God, and even tried your best to change and walk in a better direction. Yet, somehow, you keep finding yourself back in the mud. The enemy may taunt you with Scripture, saying, “As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.” (Proverbs 26:11)
Often the way out of bondage is simple, but a little scary. We may need to involve others in the process. James encourages us to "confess our sins to each other and pray for each other so that we may be healed. The...
When I was very young my older brother and I loved to play King. We would make card castles, and we would drape blankets over our shoulders. We’d throw cards at each other’s castles until we eventually destroyed them. Then we would traipse around with our blanket-trains following us, declaring that we were the conquering kings.
There is something deep inside our beings that loves the idea of kings and kingdoms.
A time is coming when, “the kingdoms of this world will become the Kingdom of our Lord and His Messiah, and He will reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 11:15) Jesus is the King of kings and the Lord of lords; every knee in heaven and on earth and below the earth will bow before Him. (Philippians 2:10) He is the Benevolent Ruler who gives life, rather than takes it. He fights to free people, not conquer them. He is the One who provides for His people, rather than receives provision from them. His...
What if God designed us to live in meaningful relationship with others? What if He wants us to impact and be impacted by each other so that we might be changed and transformed in the process? If this were actually God’s design and plan, how might it affect how we act toward others and how we receive from them?
God has placed the lonely in households (Psalm 68:6), with families, friends, workmates and possibly most importantly in the household of faith. He has made us to have effect on each other. It is as if our souls have been created with permeable membranes that allow overlap and exchange when we come close to each other. We experience the most exchange with those who come closest. Maybe that’s why we can be so irritated by our spouse, family or good friend. It can also explain how we pick up mannerisms, expressions and worldviews from each other.
The New Testament is peppered with verses that describe how we can best relate to “one another.” They...
One thing we can learn from political campaigns is that whatever skeletons a candidate may have in his/her closet will be brought into the public sphere. Things that person has done and things that have been done to the person will be exposed. Mistakes and bad decisions made will become fair game for media and water cooler discussion. It can be a very scary thing to be promoted in the public sphere.
Thankfully the Kingdom of God is different. It is redemptive at its core. The very things that have brought us shame and/or bondage, when meaningfully touched by God, become places of freedom, testimony and God’s glory. When God redeems an area of our lives, we are given fresh authority to stand and to impart to others, hope, courage and overcoming power in that very area . If you have been set free from an addiction, if you have received forgiveness and grace to change a sinful practice, if you have been healed in your soul or body – you have a new...
How alive are you?
How abundant is your life experience in God?
The New Testament starts with the book of Matthew, but the first Gospel written was most likely the book of Mark. It reads, “The beginning of the Good News about Jesus …” It then starts with the ministry of the John the Baptist – the one who Isaiah prophesied would prepare people to receive Jesus, the Messiah.
John called everyone to repentance – to turn from their sinfulness – their self-referenced, self-promoting, self-protecting and self-justifying lives. John the Baptist proclaimed a new spiritual season in the Messiah that had two powerful stages:
1. Turn from sin and receive fresh forgiveness from God.
Baptism (emersion) in water would be the sign of this spiritually cleansing reality.
2. Look for and be alert to the Promised One – Jesus, the Son of God.
Baptism (emersion) in the Holy Spirit will be the reality of this new life.
As we consider...
How alive are you?
How abundant is your life experience in God?
The New Testament starts with the book of Matthew, but the first Gospel written was most likely the book of Mark. It reads, “The beginning of the Good News about Jesus …” It then starts with the ministry of John the Baptist – the one who Isaiah prophesied would prepare people to receive Jesus, the Messiah. John called everyone to repentance – to turn from their sinfulness – their self-referenced, self-promoting, self-protecting and self-justifying lives.
John the Baptist proclaimed a new spiritual season in the Messiah that had two powerful stages:
As we consider the Advent...
Many people recognize a general brokenness in their own lives, and also sense it multiplying through our culture over the last 50 years or so. We have developed an expansive vocabulary related to different forms of dysfunction, addiction, and mental health. Most people seem to feel a need for help from beyond themselves to develop healthy and free lives. Often, they are on some kind of spiritual quest. In many circles it has even become quite chic to pursue spiritual things. For what kind of spirit and spiritual experiences, however, are people looking?
There is a (sometimes subtle) natural draw to seek spiritual growth primarily for the purpose of self-improvement, personal influence, or power. We can be tempted to use the spiritual realm, trying to get it to submit to our own personal wills. The temptation is to look for spiritual power that will help us get what we want. So, we may turn to impersonal expressions of faith/religion to boost our sense of self – a kind of...
Are you able to live in the present? Many are not.
Some people are haunted by their past. Possibly they have been hurt by others – and are still carrying the wounds. Others have made some big mistakes, and they can’t forgive themselves so that they can move on.
We must learn to confess what we have done and receive forgiveness in our souls. We must also forgive others before God – releasing them from their “debt/s” owed us. This is not always easy work, and it may involve the help of a trusted friend or spiritual leader, but it is ALWAYS possible!
A resource you may find helpful is Total Forgiveness, by RT Kendall.
Some people, on the other hand, are haunted by their future. Either they are so attached to their dreams that they have trouble being responsible in the present, or they are paralyzed by worry and dwelling on negative possibilities. Jesus made it clear, however, that worry offers us no benefit...
How do you start your day? Do you awaken to the blast of an alarm that catapults you from your subconscious state? Do you consider what must be done that day and simply do what you can to get yourself moving on the right path? Do you start your day alone in your head? Or on your phone?
Or, do you start your day seeking and acknowledging God’s presence? This may sound like a religious/Sunday school question that has an obvious “right answer,” but press past the conceptual and consider your actual, consistent experience.
When describing His relationship with His Father Jesus said,
“The One who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do what pleases Him.” (John 8:29)
Jesus did not live His life alone; He lived it with the Father. He maintained this connected relationship by doing the things He sensed the Father wanted.
Jesus went on to say,
“If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and...