Monthly Archives: June 2017
“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you, he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” Deuteronomy 31:8
Sometimes . . . something is missing.
We go to church. We do “good works”. We try to love our neighbor as ourselves. We strive to be good role models to our children, our colleagues or our co-workers. And yet, something is missing. What is it?
We don’t go to church because “church is filled with a bunch of hypocrites who claim to do good but are judgmental, holier than thou people.” We don’t go to church because we are scared of meeting people or embarrassed about our past or feel ,shy or awkward and out of place. And yet, something is missing. What is it?
It could be we are out of practice – or never were in practice. Walking with Christ begins as a discipline and progresses into a way of life. It takes time and commitment; it takes focus and determination.
It also could be that we “listen” to the gospel but we do not apply what we hear. We have lost or never found a “fervent response to the gospel”. (Ten Brave Christians, Danny Morris, page 2). Instead, we think life’s purpose is to be happy.
We have forgotten the basics. The way to joy is not through the acquisition of “things”, or the “retirement” nest egg, or the “prestige and power” of our position.
No . . . it has to do with putting God first each and every day in each and every way. That’s why we refocus each day on “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” Once our focus is correct we can work on rebuilding.
Rebuilding is a process. It can be slow and steady or occur in fits and starts. It can be going well and then hit a barrier or hurdle. We can become discouraged about circumstances or events – we can become frustrated because we can’t “see” the progress being made. But part of the rebuilding process is perseverance – it is trusting that even when we don’t “see”, God does.
God is always with us – He never leaves us, nor forsakes us – God always answers prayer – God is for us, not against us. His plans for us are for good and not for evil. So when we refocus, God will honor us with His presence . . .
For each of us the rebuilding process will be different – it will look different – it will progress at different speeds – it will address different needs and challenges – it cannot be compared to someone else’s rebuilding efforts. However, there are some common ways to rebuild – there are options and variations of options for each of us – the path is between you and God.
So this coming week pick an option to start rebuilding. If it does not seem to work, pick a different way . . . but the point is, start in some way to rebuild your relationship with your Creator. Here are some suggestions:
WARNING – THIS MAY CHANGE YOUR LIFE!
- Pick up your Bible. Dust it off. Is the translation understandable to you? If not invest in a different translation such as The New Living Translation, The English Standard Version, The New International Version – Study Bible, or The Message, to name a few. If you are smart phone savvy, get an app like Bible-Life Church YouVersion (there are many to choose from).
- Read your Bible. Start at the beginning (Genesis) or Pick a Gospel – Mark is a good place to begin. Or read it chronologically – google it – http://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-reading-plan/chronological.html. Read one verse or chapter a day, read according to a reading plan; read because you want to rebuild your relationship with God.
- Meditate on the scripture you have read. Actually set aside time each day to sit quietly with all your attention on God – no phones, no computers, no discussion, just quiet, uninterrupted solitude
- Pray. Prayer is talking with God. Start your focus of prayer on an area you have identified as needing repair or rebuilding. Ask God to reveal to you how to start rebuilding. Then listen.
- Try an Adventure – The 30-day Great Experiment of rebuilding your relationship with God. (Purchase 10 Brave Christians – The John Wesley Great Experiment by Danny Morris; Amazon $10)
May God reveal a pathway to greater intimacy and may we see and journey forth!
The Inquisitors Tale by Adam Gidwitz
If you have a child or know a child in late elementary or middle school, you now have the perfect excuse to read to them without them knowing it is reallly for your enjoyment! Steeped in his understanding of the history of the midieval ages, Adam Gidwitz unfolds a story that has God, a dragon, saints, a nun and a story of truth that runs through it.
Our first “member” of the church is a story of three magical children and their holy dog. The story takes place in an inn with the character of a story teller wanting to collect the stories of this group. It unfolds from character to character as each person in the inn tells what they know. You will hear about a saintly dog (and there actually is a dog that was a saint), a dragon, curious adventures, and ordinary children with gifts. If you listen to the story, you will learn about truth, about the song God sings through creation, about grace and forgiveness, and about love and acceptance.
The chapters are short so that it is a good before bed read or a read in the car while travelling.
The Art of Breathing by Gina Roes
My next “member” of the church is Gina Roes. In the Art of Breathing, Gina goes to the heart of all our desires–intimacy with God. Knowing it or not, we all are wanting to go back to Eden where they walked in the garden with God and enjoyed that intimacy that meant life in all its fullness. This side of Eden – we are all trying to survive. In our survival we try to do it ourselves and we try whatever means are in front of us: power, control, possessions, achievement, whatever will make us feel better about ourselves and keep us safe. We try to numb the pain of broken relationships, be that a relationship with ourselves, our family, and people who abuse us. We numb the pain with sex, drugs, constant work, or the neatest and cleanest house in the neighborhood. Gina takes the reader on a journey through it all to the heart of God.
This is not an easy read. The reader needs to pause, to listen, to reflect, to soak it in. The journey is more than worth it.
not R & R – but added for flavor
Do you wonder what version of the Bible to read? You and I have been blessed with the Bible in our language and translated into our culture. Like many things there are too many versions from which to choose. Here is a suggestion: The New Living Translation. It is a translation from the original language, it is geared to a certain reading level, and it makes the text read in a way comfortable to modern language. However, you may be more comfortable with another translation and that’s ok.
A means to enhance your bible reading is to go to Bible Gateway on your computer put in a text that you are reading and then read if from the variety of translations offered to you. The variety of translations will help you to read more deeply and fully. Here is an example: The King James Version (KJV) gives a verse this reading: Be ye saved. Now when you utilize other translations and resources from Bible Gateway you’ll see the greek word “saved” is a continual action verb and so is translated: Keep on being saved. So who we are with Jesus is not a once and done event but an ongoing journey. Isn’t that lovely? Be ye saved = Keep on being saved. Reading the bible more deeply and having a fuller understanding can only be a benefit on our individual journeys!
Who is this person sharing books with you? (You can skip this part and go right to the books!)
Crazy Book Lady here,and I have this unusual church. It is not a denomination. It has no pews, no organ or praise band. It meets at all hours of the day. I can drink coffee without fear of spilling. And I only realized lately that it is my church. Don’t misunderstand, I do attend a church of a denomination that meets on Sunday morning, that has a choir, drinks coffee in Sunday School, has VBS in the summer, and celebrates communion once a month. This unusual church is my extended body of Christ and as close to me and as important to me as the one that gathers on a Sunday. It is my library of books. God has blessed me with an appetite to read, the time to read, and a husband that is patient with the Amazon bill that brings me the members of this church.
Each month, I’d like to introduce you to some of the members who sit on my shelves (or beside my chair or next to the bed or in the car) Yes, I can read in a traffic jam or waiting at the doctor’s office. Not all the members of this church are followers of Jesus but God speaks through them and I listen.
What habits or behaviors turn our eyes to God and what habits or behaviors draw us away from God?
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Mark 12:30
The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:
for gaining wisdom and instruction;
for understanding words of insight;
for receiving instruction in prudent behavior; doing what is right and just and fair;
for giving prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young-
let the wise listen and add to their learning and
let the discerning get guidance-
for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise.
A good habit for one person can be a bad habit for someone else. Let us take stock of our habits and assess if they do us good or do us harm. For instance, our daily walk at lunch can be wonderful conditioning for our bodies, a time to listen to the bible or praise music; a time of prayer or a time to strengthen a relationship with a friend. However, it can also be an obsession, a way to check out not check in with God, a way to avoid a situation; or gossip about others.
So each of us must assess our current life with our own eyes asking God to open them to see where and when we are checking out instead of checking in. The key to refocusing on God is identifying where it is that we see and don’t see God in our day. If a habit or behavior we routinely participate in does not bring Glory to God then we need to assess what God wants us to do with it.
When we have our eyes focused on God, what are we doing? If we only have our eyes on God Sunday mornings then reassessment is critical. If we are focusing on God at home but not work, why? If we are walking in His Way all day, but check out each evening engaged in habits that draw us away from God, then we need to turn and ask God into that time.
If we are in a job that causes us to stumble, is it the right job? If we are associating with people or friends or family members who cause us to stumble, what can we do to see God in the situation? Do we need to spend less time with the person, or react differently when a particular subject comes up or take a stand with the truth or gracefully remain silent? Do we need to change a routine or behavior because it is offensive, not appropriate for young ears, or leads others astray? Do we need to speak less and listen more?
I challenge us this week to assess our own situation, routine and habits. Ask God to reveal where we can improve our “living” by refocusing on Him. Where can we turn from or adjust a habit or routine that leads us away from God instead of towards Him?
May we refocus our hearts, minds and souls on our God who gives us wisdom and instruction; understanding and words of insight; and instruction in prudent behavior for doing what is right and just and fair.
Blessings to you, my friend,
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Mark 12:3
Most of us would agree that God should be first in our lives. Many of us believe God is first in our lives but allow the situations of our past, circumstances of this day, the “unknowns” of the future or the people in our lives to take the driver’s seat in our journey. A few of us understand that if God is first in our lives all situations, circumstances and people are not ours to control – they are God’s to control. We are His workers, each assigned different tasks to bring Glory to God.
Past and present events that have caused brokenness in our lives and are unresolved in our souls many times become barriers to our ability to focus on God. We may be steeped in bitterness or jealousy or anger. The events or circumstances continually resurface in our minds. They become our focus in times of quietness or are triggered by new and similar situations. They steal our joy.
We sometimes keep going around and around the mountain as if on a train that never changes tracks but circles the same scenery day after day. We can feed on the drama letting it weave its ugliness into us day after day. We seem to be unable to move forward, to forgive, to give the bitterness to God to handle – unable to search for the way to set the anger aside.
Likewise, the possibilities of disaster in the future can be overwhelming. We can become obsessed with planning for a future that we do not realize is in God’s control. We waste time, effort and resources planning for something that we think we want or need. We get caught up in what is going to happen to the point that we miss the miracles of today – the song in our heart that once sang for Jesus is but a faint memory.
In all these scenarios, we forget that we can stop, turn and refocus on Jesus –
“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
The Grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. AMEN.
Challenge of the Week – Identify one thing that is separating you from God – pray to forgive, if forgiveness is needed; pray for mercy if mercy is needed; pray for grace, if grace is needed; pray for healing if healing is needed and Pray for your eye’s to see the situation through Jesus’ eyes; for your ears to hear what the Holy Spirit is communicating to you about the situation and for your heart to be filled with the love, peace and joy that comes from seeking God’s Glory.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Mark 12:3
One of the hardest legs of our spiritual journey is reordering our priorities to move God ahead of all our earthly relationships. Most of us have a relationship whether it be with a parent, spouse, friend or spiritual mentor – where we have placed a person on a pedestal. Sometimes, the person promotes the rise above and desires to be on the pedestal. Other times, we place the person there due to familial relationship, gratitude or simply age.
Regardless of the reason for the elevation, no one should come between God and each of us. This does not mean that we should not love and respect those who have a special place in our lives. It just means that any relationship that takes our eyes off Jesus, is not the best it could be.
When we put Jesus in the driver’s seat, when we are listening first and foremost to the movement of the Holy Spirit, when prayer is the first line of defense, our earthly relationships will be set in God’s order. When that occurs, we will find “the peace that surpasses all understanding”.
May the God of Peace be with you.
Challenge of the Week – Identify relationships that stand between you and God and seek God’s counsel (pray) on how to refocus on God first.