The Veneer is Dissipating

Awhile ago, I was doing laundry and found a penny. I am not sure what adventures that penny had been on but what I learned that day was that pennies aren’t copper all the way through. The copper is only a thin veneer that covers what I imagine must be some cheaper, undesirable metal.

A few days ago, my daughter told me she was in an elevator with her two year old. The masked man in the elevator said to my granddaughter, “you can push the button.” My daughter thought he was being nice. And then he said the words that showed his true heart and removed the thin veneer of courtesy: Let her get the germs.

That awful man cared more about his own health and safety than about the health and safety of a two year old little girl.

But this is not a lone story. Everywhere you turn you are learning things about people you just never wanted to know. We are learning the priorities, the fears, the selfishness, the ugly hearts. We are learning this about strangers; and about neighbors, church family, and co-workers; about extended family, and, sadly, even about our own dear family members.

Status Quo has a way of covering up the truth. When status quo is shaken, the truth –which was always there– starts showing itself.

So that’s kind of depressing, really. I mean it’s been so heartbreaking to see the division, the anger, the unforgiveness, the selfishness, the fear-driven decisions. It’s absolutely disheartening, isn’t it?

But within those depressing, heartbreaking, disheartening circumstances lies an unprecedented opportunity for believers.

Let’s go back to that penny for a moment. We believers still have that undesirable flesh that resides within us causing all kinds of trouble. The only difference is our coating. Instead of a thin veneer of courtesy and morality, we are now covered by Christ’s blood. Our veneer has been replaced by the indestructible gold of Christ’s sacrifice. And that covering will start changing our ugly old flesh into something precious. It takes a while and we all have our own journeys, but we should be battling the flesh less and less as we grow in the faith.

So now comes that opportunity to which I was referring.

In this world gone mad we have the opportunity to look different than the lost around us because we are different. Our responses, our choices, our actions, our lifestyles, our decisions–they should be born out of faith instead of fear. They should be born out of a love for righteousness instead of a love for evil. They should be born out of a heart surrendered rather than out of a spoiled, selfish “I want my own way” heart. Some questions to ask as we reflect on this: Are my responses and choices determined by my thoughtful study of God’s Word? Do I care more about the welfare of others than I do about my own? Do I trust the Lord for the days ahead? These are the changes that are made in the heart of God’s child.

Oh, not instantly. Rarely instantly. But we have the Word as our guide and help. And we pray. We ask the Lord to show us our weak spots. Our ugly sins and flaws. We ask Him to make us more like Christ. And then when we stumble, we readily and humbly admit we have sinned and try again.

And so…it isn’t that we are perfect. It isn’t that we are some icon of calm in the midst of the chaos. It doesn’t mean that we are without an occasional short temper or curt word.

No, the difference is that we humbly admit when we are wrong. The difference is that we desire to be a light in this dark night and we act on that desire. We aim to grow in our faith. We are never satisfied to look like the dying world around us. Instead of hypocrisy, we are characterized by frank honesty. Instead of hiding our heads in the sand, we are are characterized by a willingness to face the hardest truth with courage. None of this is done perfectly. We just bring a willing and wanting heart to do what is right.

The other day someone treated me very rudely at the store. I hadn’t done or said anything to them but simply wasn’t doing what they thought I should do. I reflected on how rude some people are becoming in the midst of all of this uncertainty. And I pondered for a moment how bad it would get if there literally was only some food on the shelves and not enough to feed everyone. What would people be like then? Visions of the toilet paper shortage from early 2020 come flooding back and we know how people would act. It’s kind of scary, isn’t it? But a more important question is what would I be like? If I couldn’t get my basic necessities how would I respond?

Will this happen? I have no idea. But a great time to practice for that is right now. We can and we must be intentional in our responses right now. When we can’t get that item we need because it’s out on a cargo ship somewhere; when the waitress is overworked and struggling in the short-staffed restaurant; when the store clerk is just so incompetent; when the customer service rep on the phone couldn’t care less about you or your problem; when the neighbor ridicules you for your worldview; when a family member makes a choice you 100% disagree with; when that employee calls off yet again; when a fellow believer hurts you deeply; when life just doesn’t go our way.

THESE are opportunities to respond with love and grace and truth and kindness. These are the opportunities–and they are becoming more and more plentiful, aren’t they?–which God can use to grow and prepare us for whatever lies ahead.

We may still be ugly metal on the inside, but we are promised transformation. And little by little that ugly metal is changing into something much more precious. Oh, we will always have some of that flesh within us here on earth but, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can diminish it’s presence and power in our lives.

I wish I could say I have this down perfectly. But, like always, I am simply writing about what God is teaching me. The other day I had such a frustrating conversation on the phone with a customer service rep and I found myself growing angrier by the minute. While I do think I handled it better than I would have ten years ago, I still have such a long way to go. But I am getting lots of opportunities to practice these days and I am guessing so are you. So, together, and with God’s help, let’s intentionally be different from the rest of the world. And, through that difference, may God use our light to draw the lost to Him and to encourage fellow believers along the way.



How Studying the Bible Changes You

I was so perplexed and started to grow angry. Was she kidding? No, there was an unpleasant glint in her eye that gave credence to her words.

My daughter had been given permission from the guy at the top of the bridge to have her baby’s car seat in the plane. When we arrived in the plane, the stewardess informed us in no uncertain terms that this would not be possible. She condescendingly told us it was a full flight and she highly doubted there would be room for his seat. But the plane was far from full. So not only was she rude but she lied. We did question why permission was given at the top, which seemed to set her against us. She continued her churlishness with us throughout the flight. This same stewardess was quite rude to the rest of family behind us as they made legitimate requests. It’s hard to believe that someone like that has a job working with people.

A few moments before the flight started, a man came and very kindly explained that, due to Covid, car seats were no longer allowed on the smaller planes. While this didn’t make any sense to us at all, his calm and kind manner as he explained was comforting after the stinging meanness of the stewardess. (They all seemed to be rather confused as to protocol regarding car seats and the rules about them. It was very disorganized. It does seem like we now live in a world where anything and everything can be blamed on Covid. It’s actually very strange.)

As we taxied on the runway and then took off, I could feel myself growing angrier and angrier at this woman. I wanted nothing more than to be rude back to her. But about fifteen or twenty minutes in, as I started to settle down, it dawned on me that she was very likely unsaved and that I had a Christian testimony to keep. While I (to my shame) did not go out of my way to “kill her with kindness”, I did manage to hold my tongue and to mumble a “thank you” a time or two as she brought things by.

I do long for the day that I can overcome my flesh in these situations and actually be extra kind when someone is so incredibly rude to me (or my child.) But Sunday was not that day.

The next morning, I was reading in Matthew and I came across these verses in chapter six–

For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

I thought about this lady from the day before and remembered the danger of holding grudges. I thought of how anger and bitterness shatter all relationships–whether it be with a stranger, a customer, a person at church, a friend, or a family member.

Unforgiveness and bitterness destroy everything in their path. It can never be allowed to set up residence in our soul. Even over the small matter of an extra-ordinarily rude stewardess. At that moment, I chose to forgive her. I wished I had been able to do that on the plane so that I could have been a better testimony. I will probably never see her again and that chance is gone.

So, honestly, I am not a big one for flying. Flying with masks is far worse. But the thing that had me the most worried was that all of the women, save one, in our family were on the same plane for four different flights. About two weeks before we had left this hit me and I grew incredibly worried about something happening to all of us at the same time. Enter Matthew, chapter six again. It was from the end of that chapter that I drew much comfort and chose to trust the Lord.

You see, in the Growing4Life Bible Reading Challenge we have been reading Matthew 5-8, which contains the Sermon on the Mount. There have been so many times that what I have been reading and studying over this past month have been practically applied to my daily life. I gave just two examples above but there are so many more. The scriptures have exhorted, reminded, encouraged, and rebuked me. They truly are life-changing.

Any good in me, any right response, is the Holy Spirit working through the Word to transform me and make me look more like Christ. It has nothing whatsoever to do with me or my efforts to be a “better person”.

I wish I could get every single person who claims to love Jesus to actually study the Word. It would change the world because it changes the individual.

If you’d like to study the Bible but aren’t sure where to begin, I’d like to invite you to join this year’s Bible Reading Challenge. It’s a great time to join because we will begin the book of Ruth on April 1st. You can find the details here. I would love to have you join me in studying God’s Word.

But any study of God’s Word is life-changing. The key is to get started. Paul tells us in I Timothy 3:16-17–

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

If we want to be transformed by the Word, it will require study and meditation. Cursorily reading it isn’t a bad thing but it could be compared to a lollipop in its sustenance regarding our spiritual health.

Life happens. Every day we face various trials and challenges. Big ones and small ones. We face rude stewardesses, customer service reps, and clerks. We find out a company scammed us or cheated us or didn’t receive our payment. We learn that our child or spouse or family member did something very disappointing. We find out that someone passed away, is getting divorced, or has been diagnosed with illness.

God has told us how to respond to these things and so much more in His Word. But if we don’t know it, we are missing out on the greatest strength and guidance God has offered us. Let us not ignore this wonderful gift God has given us for this life.



On Knowing God’s Will

There are so many books, blog posts, and sermons about finding God’s will. Every Christian seems to be searching for God’s will for their lives. How can we know what His will is? Why doesn’t He just tell us?

This thing of God’s will remains a bit of a mystery to those of us who long to follow biblical principles. I’ve been giving this a lot of thought recently. It all started with a bit of commentary I read by Henry Morris–

“This could be read: ‘If any man sincerely wants to do His will, he shall know…’ Thus the first prerequisite to ascertaining God’s leading in some matter, or the truth about some doctrinal question, is a genuine willingness to believe the truth and to follow God’s will before they are made known, even if the answer goes against one’s preference.”

I am not sure why but this really struck me.

When we think of God’s will, we always think about the big decisions in life: Who do I marry? Which job should I take? Should I buy this house?

But isn’t knowing God’s will so much more than just these occasional big decisions?

A little later on that day, I was just sitting down to eat lunch when my husband came in, making a request of me. My flesh wanted to quip a smart remark and tell him to wait. But, suddenly, the thought came to me: What is God’s will in this situation? 

I knew what His will was. It was that I treat my husband kindly and do what he asked.

Throughout the rest of the week, time and time again, I was faced with these seemingly unimportant situations and this same thought would come to me: What is God’s will for my life right now?

And I suddenly realized something: I was faced with knowing exactly what God’s will was time and time again and made a choice not to do His will because I didn’t prefer it. My flesh didn’t like it or it was just too hard and so I made a choice to not follow God’s will.

Here are some ways we choose not to follow God’s will each and every day, even though we know exactly what His will is–

We respond unkindly, even though we know that God’s will for our lives is to be kind to others. (Ephesians 4:32)

We don’t take the time to listen to someone because we are busy doing something that could easily wait, even though we know God wants us to put others ahead of self. (Philippians 2:3-4)

We choose to waste time staring at our devices or the TV instead of doing something productive, even though we know God doesn’t want us to waste time. (Ephesians 5:16-17)

We choose to ignore prayer and Bible reading rather than make it a priority, even though God makes it clear that we need to know His Word and spend time with Him. (Matthew 6:33; John 15:5)

See what I mean? I could give so many more examples. I am sure you probably could, too.

We don’t speak up about Christ because we are afraid of what others will think. We don’t discipline our kids because we want them to like us. We don’t love others because they are mean and unkind to us. We don’t test and compare the things a teacher or author are saying against scripture because what they say makes us feel good. These things are clearly shown in scripture to be God’s will and yet we choose not to do them.

And I can’t help but think that we if we don’t prefer to actively pursue God’s will in these things, then why would we choose to obey the Lord in the big ones?

We are given a thousand opportunities to follow God’s revealed will every single day of our lives. And yet we so often choose not to do so. As I reflected on this, I realized that we often relegate these little choices to “personality” (Oh, I get angry, that’s just who I am or I don’t really like to read so I don’t need to read the Bible) OR we believe them to be insignificant–as if somehow they don’t really matter with so much other more important stuff going on in life.

But then I am reminded of this verse from Luke 16:10:

He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.

I believe the principle of this verse applies to multiple situations, including today’s topic.

How important it is that we are faithful in following God’s will in the little things, so that we have a heart and mind prepared for following His will in the big things.

Sometimes we do not want to follow God’s will. This is when we must train ourselves to do so, anyway. We must raise ourselves above our unreliable, treacherous feelings and make the right choice.

So, you see, as life generally goes, we already know what God’s will is. We just don’t really want to follow it. Oh, we do in theory but when it comes to actually putting our desires into action, we so often fail.

Perhaps this is the beginning of knowing God’s will: Actively doing what we already know to be His will. Doing so will make us much more likely to follow His will when those big decisions come along. We will have trained ourselves to be ready and willing to obey, no matter which way God directs and no matter what we prefer.



Twelve Things I’d Change if I Could Live my Life Over

Oftentimes, we evaluate our lives as we approach the end of the year. We examine our life in regards to health, career, education. We consider our bank accounts and we reflect on our relationships. We ask: What could we do better next year?

The most important questions we can ever ask ourselves as we evaluate our past year are: Do I look more like Christ? and Did I learn any spiritual lessons? After all, these are the only things of lasting and eternal value.

Education, good jobs, making money, and beautiful homes are nice, but they aren’t the heart of a Christian’s life. Popularity, fame, and 100,000 Instagram or Facebook followers may be very gratifying but it’s not what really matters in life.

So now is a good time to ask: What are my top priorities for the new year?

As you consider this, I compiled a list of a few things that I’d love to go back and change if I could live my life over. Some are major and some are not-so-major. Other than the first two (which I consider, by far, the most important), they are not in any particular order. As I evaluate my life, these are the things I’d love to do differently. This list is not exhaustive and I know that there are some that are just not coming to mind right now.

If we have a priority to walk with God and to teach our families to walk with God in the upcoming year, then I hope this list encourages you and gives you some practical ideas of how to get started–

1. Be more faithful in reading and studying Bible; memorize passages. God’s Word is transforming. We need the Bible in order to know and love God. It is our guidebook, showing us how to live. It is our mirror, convicting us of sin. And yet, I hindered my walk for years by being satisfied with shallow devotionals instead of actually reading the Bible. And yes! Memorize! I just started this last year and I can’t even begin to tell you the difference this has made in my walk with the Lord. Oh, why didn’t I do this earlier….??

2. Be much more diligent to have my kids learn and study and memorize God’s Word. God’s Word was always the authority in our home, but, oh, how I wish I would have been so much more faithful in having my kids in the Word and memorizing it in a much more systematic way. This is the only thing that will carry them through the trials that come to us all and the only way they can stand under the persecution they can expect to receive as Christians.

3. Put my distractions aside and play more with my kids. The laundry, the dishes, the household work, the phone call, the tv show–they could have waited. Not that I never played with them. But, looking back now, I realize now just how fast the time goes and I wish I would have spent even more time with them.

I am so very glad I didn’t have the temptation of looking at my phone when I had kids. I feel rather bad for those of you who have smartphones and tablets at your fingertips, tempting you to check on them and then pulling you in at all moments of the day. I encourage you to put them in a room far away and focus on your kids! Trust me, you will regret it if you don’t.

4. Be more diligent to keep an eternal perspective in all things but especially when it pertained to raising my kids When we are in the midst of parenting, we are often concerned about two things–will my kid still like me if I do or don’t allow this? And will their friends still like them if we don’t allow this? But neither of those matter. It’s so much more important that our children love and serve the Lord than that they fit in with the in-crowd–this one fact changes so many decisions we make as parents! Sure, they may be mad at us or even scream at us, but standing firm pays off in the long run. For the most part we stood firm on God’s Word in our family and we were often ostracized because of it, but as I reflect on our parenting years, I do regret some of the decisions we made based on peer pressure. (Let me add here, that there is also the opposite–where we make far too many {unnecessary} rules that have nothing to do with scripture. Please don’t do that. It breeds rebellion. If you have a rule, make sure it has a scriptural principle behind it and that your kids know what that principle is.)

5. Be much more careful in what I set before my eyes and listen to with my ears; I was always fairly careful, but even things I would have considered “innocent” I can see now were promoting infidelity or bad language or lying. They were full of human wisdom or showing an ungodly model of a family (just how many sitcoms can make Dad look like a complete idiot?!?). I would work harder earlier in my life to eliminate all forms of entertainment that do not glorify God. I know some of you may think I am “over the top” but entertainment changes us. We are fooled into thinking it doesn’t matter but it most certainly does. I still have so far to go in this area, but I do feel like a different person since I have eliminated quite a bit of what is worldly entertainment from my life. But that’s a topic for another day…

6. Be kinder to my husband; I think I am especially cognizant of this because of losing my sister-in-law this past year. I’m sure my brother would only love to have her there, irritating him in whatever way she may have done so. It is always hardest to be kind and loving with the ones that we live with. I really want to be more intentional in nurturing my marriage this coming year.

7. Have far more grace for others; I didn’t have a lot of grace for others as a young person. I am so very thankful that God has brought situations and people into my life that have wrought a great change in this area. But I sure do wish I would have recognized way earlier in life that “but for the grace of God, go I”.

8. Let the minor offenses go; This is another change God has made in my life due to people and situations. I had to intentionally forgive and choose not to hold a grudge–many times without the other person even knowing that they hurt me. Eventually it became natural (at least much of the time), but it took me too long. Life is so much more enjoyable if we stop being so easily offended.

9. Speak the truth of God’s Word with lots of love and kindness. I never had too much trouble speaking the truth, but the love and kindness part would sometimes take a backseat. I hope that I have made progress in this, although I am sure I sometimes still fail. Those of us who passionately love and defend the truth can often struggle with the love side of things. Would I have done more for God’s Kingdom if I would have changed my tone or said things differently as a younger person? Only God knows. In this, I am so very thankful for God’s forgiveness and mercy.

10. Think of others more often. I was SO selfish as a young person. Looking back, I am dismayed and distraught seeing it. I still can tend to be that way and I have to literally fight against my flesh and do what is right. Sometimes I win that battle and sometimes I don’t. But I truly want to be a blessing by thoughtful words and kind deeds–rather than a burden through sarcasm, human opinions about things that are not scriptural, and selfish acts. This is certainly an area in progress and I sure do wish I was much further along in this one!

Along with this, I wish I would have shared the Gospel so much more freely, without worrying what people think! I am so self-centered that I am {still} often more concerned with what people think about me than I am with someone’s eternal destiny!

11. Recognize that my parents are people who have feelings and need support. I am so dismayed when I consider how selfish I was as a teen and twenty-something. When I was getting married, my grandma was in the hospital. And then she passed away two weeks before I had my first child. I was so wrapped up in my life that I was not there for my mom. Oh, how I regret this! If you are blessed to have parents, realize now that they are people, too. That their life is not solely comprised of you and your world. Oh, how I wish I would have understood this sooner.

12. Waste far less time worrying about what “could happen”. Worry and anxiety are a prison. They destroy the present and do nothing to change the future. And yet, how many of us find ourselves in that prison, held tightly by their chains? This is a battle in many of our lives but we must fight it instead of cave into it. We are, in essence, saying we do not trust in God. And therein lies the issue. Oh, how I wish I would have wasted far less time in this useless and faith-sapping activity.


So there’s the list. Not that I have arrived. Some of these continue to be quite the challenge for me. One of them I thought I conquered and then, years later, it came back with a vengeance (#12, if you want to know!)

Most, if not all, of these things are changed by intentional choices with the guidance and help of the Holy Spirit. I’ve been giving a great deal of thought to this over the course of the past few months.

Some of the things above have changed over the course of my lifetime, simply from growing in Christ. It has sometimes been two steps forward and one step back, but, gradually, over time, they got so much better. Not perfect but better. But even these things came from changing a small habit or behavior. Making a conscientious choice to sit down with God’s Word in the morning or to mentally turn away from the negative thoughts when someone says something hurtful or to choose to offer grace when someone does something I just can’t understand. Although sometimes still a challenge, it is far more natural now to respond correctly. But it wasn’t always the case. I had to intentionally make a choice.

It is hard to improve anything without intentionally choosing to do so. Before you think I am all caught up in man’s wisdom and the “I can do anything I set my mind to”, I want to stop right here.

I am not saying that lasting change can be had without the Holy Spirit. What I am saying is that becoming more Christ-like isn’t just going to happen one day without any work from us at all.

Galatians 5:24-25 says this:

And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

We have to crucify our flesh. It’s an action on our part. In this verse and earlier in that chapter we can also see that we are to walk in the Spirit (v. 16) Again, it’s intentional action on our part.

Life is like a quickly fading flower. Those of you who are young will blink and find yourselves where I am. You, too, will look back over your life and wonder how in the world you ever got here so incredibly fast. Live intentionally now so that your “things I’d change” list is shorter than mine!

(For those of you who have lived as long or longer than I have–what would you change? Your comments on this may help a younger reader. We are all different and have different struggles, so I’d love for you to share your thoughts on this.)



Three Mortal Enemies of Spiritual Growth

This year has been incredibly busy. Part of the fall-out of that busyness is that my Bible study and prayer life really took a nosedive. When I did have a spare minute, I was just too tired to think. While I did continue reading for the G4L Bible Challenge, I found it challenging to fit in and I also found my reading to be more of a duty than an enjoyment. It saddens me to admit this but it is the truth.

As I was contemplating these past months, I was thinking about how much my busy schedule negatively affected my spiritual growth. As I was thinking about this, a few other things that stunt our spiritual growth also came to mind.

Let’s talk about them.


In many ways being busy has become synonymous with living a productive life. Where I live with our German roots, there are many who feel guilty even sitting down for a few moments because that signifies laziness. And so just sitting and reading the Bible would make them feel like they aren’t accomplishing something productive. And then there are those that have no conviction that sitting is lazy but they are so wrapped up in work, lessons, sports, and the gym that when they have a minute to sit, they are simply exhausted.

Sometimes we can’t help our busyness and we have to endure for a season, understanding that God has grace for us during these times. It could be a new baby or needing to be a caretaker for an elderly parent. It could be a special project at work or school. These are occasional things that take us out of our routine and may, for a time, slow down our spiritual growth.

But there are those times that we can help our busyness. Times when we fill our schedules with the superfluous and unimportant. Times when we follow the crowd by putting Johnny and Suzie in every single activity or sign up for classes or activities that are not beneficial to our spiritual well-being. Most of these things aren’t wrong, in and of themselves, but when they keep us from God’s Word, this creates a problem.

If we feel overwhelmed and too busy, then we need to take an honest look at our schedule and contemplate if there is something we can eliminate or at least put off temporarily to give us more margin in our lives.

If we say that we believe prayer and studying God’s Word is the most important priority of our lives, then we must show this by our actions. If we are too busy to study the Word and pray, then we are too busy.



I have often pondered how someone can say they are reading the Bible and yet have no transformation whatsoever? How can someone have regular devotions or be in the Word and yet remain utterly unchanged? I’ve come to realize that it is pride that causes this. If we approach God’s Word with a lack of humility then our spiritual growth won’t only be slowed, it will be halted completely.

Why is this? Well, a prideful heart believes it knows most of life’s answers before even approaching the Word. A prideful heart has no interest in hearing suggestions from a different source other than one’s own mind. A prideful heart always thinks it knows better.

Why does this make a difference in our spiritual growth? We can turn to James 4:6 where we read that God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.

A humble heart is a heart ready to receive God’s Word as its final authority. In contrast, a prideful heart is not. This is the root of many of the false doctrines that abound today–prideful hearts that twist the scriptures to their own agendas.



Worldliness is a death knell to spiritual growth. I John 2:15 and James 4:4 couldn’t make it any clearer–we can love the world or we can love God. But we can’t love both.

God is opening my eyes to this more and more. When I was in my 20s, I was listening to a heavy rock song (yes, I used to enjoy this back in the day.) As I listened, God convicted my heart. The music made me angry. In fact, I’d purposefully play this type of music when I was angry because it would fuel my anger and make me feel better. This was the beginning of my journey in understanding that what we put in our minds affects us. It either moves us towards the Lord or it moves us towards the world. It can never do both.

As I started to gradually and intentionally work to remove worldliness from my life (which has been a lifelong process and I still continue to work on), I have personally experienced a renewed desire for Bible study, a reawakened sense of what pleases God, and a complete change in my desires. Only by the grace of God can any of us intentionally choose to remove worldly things from our lives.

Movies, books, and music that promote sexual immorality, sorcery, bad language, blasphemy, and all sorts of evil; Going to bars or dances; Dressing immodestly in order to be like the world and follow the trends; Gossiping and passing rumors; Gambling; Addictions (to any thing–including food); Materialism and always wanting the latest and greatest…

All of these things kill our desire for God.

All of these things, without exception, move us towards the world and away from God.


Do you struggle with any of the above? Is there any change you can make this week to set your spiritual growth on a better path? Many of these things sneak up on us while we aren’t even paying attention. I know that has been the case with me on many occasions. All three of these mortal enemies have worked their way into my life at one time or another. And, honestly, they still do. While we live in the flesh, we are forever susceptible to these enemies and we must stay on guard.

I hope this post will encourage you to examine your life and to start making changes that will boost your spiritual growth. Let’s choose to spiritually flourish in a world that is so lackadaisical and status quo!


How Does a True Christian Act?

If you live in the United States almost everybody is a Christian. It’s the religion they identify with and, oftentimes, it has been passed on from generation to generation. If one goes to a church that uses Christian names like “God” and “Jesus” and other terms from the Bible, there is an assumption that one is a Christian–even if there has never been repentance from sin or personal trust and belief in Jesus as Savior. (Actually I guess there are even many people who consider themselves Christians that rarely, if ever, even step inside a church.)

Of course, we know from the Bible that a genuine Christian has repented of their sins and trusted in Christ alone for salvation. When this happens, we are made into a new creation. Isn’t that a glorious thought? The old things are passed away and all things become new (2 Corinthians 5:17).

So what does this new creation actually look like? How does this person act? What signs show that they are a new creation and not just a false convert?

Romans 12 gives us just such a description. It’s a great litmus test for us, giving us specific things to look for as we examine our lives and test ourselves to see whether or not we are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5).

Many of us are very familiar with the first two verses of Romans 12–

I beseech[a] you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your [b]reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Paul then takes a few verses to talk about spiritual gifts and the Body of Christ and how it should function. But when we arrive at verse 9, we find out exactly what a genuine Christian should look like on a day-to-day basis.

Before we spend some time looking at Romans 12, let’s remember one extremely important thing. The Christian life is not–and never will be–about perfection. None of us will ever be the “perfect Christian”.  Our focus must not be on being perfect but on testing our heart’s desire and our direction. What direction are we going? Are we growing in these things each year? Do we look more like Christ as we mature in the faith? What is our attitude about these things?

All of us will struggle with some more than others. And that’s okay, too. If we know there is a battle, then we know the Holy Spirit is hard at work, convicting us and showing us how we can grow.

So let’s take a look at the description of someone who is a new creation that we find in the second half of Romans 12, starting with verse 9–

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.

A genuine Christian will–

1. Love without hypocrisy

Hypocrisy: the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform; pretense.

We should love without pretense. A genuine love that stems from our hearts.

2. Abhor what is evil.

Abhor: regard with disgust and hatred.

We should hate that which is evil. We should not be bringing it into our homes via our radios, phones, iPads, and TVs. We should not find ourselves entertained by books, movies, and music that glorifies evil. Instead we should abhor them. I speak specifically to this because I believe this is where many true Christians allow entrance of evil into their lives.

3. Cling to what is good.

Cling: hold on tightly to.

We must put a firm grip on the truth and pure doctrine. Don’t let go just because someone tells you to. Don’t compromise because it is easier. We must hold fast. (I Thessalonians 5:21)

10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;

Be kind to our fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord, giving preference to them. This same thought is echoed in Philippians 2:3-4.

Kindness is fairly trendy right now. It is cool to be kind. And that’s not a bad thing. But the kindness referred to here is the kindness we should show our Christian brothers and sisters and flows from a heart that is a reflection of our heavenly Father’s and His love for His children.

11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord;

A true Christian is diligent and fervent as they serve the Lord. This means they are not lazy or apathetic. They serve the Lord with their whole heart, in whatever opportunity He has given them.

12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer;

The genuine believer knows that his hope goes beyond this temporal earth, and so his hope remains steady no matter what happens. He is patient in trials, all the while continuing steadfastly in prayer.

13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.

True Christians meet the needs of their fellow believers. And they are given to hospitality.

Hospitality: the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.

Hospitality is not really all that popular anymore. Few people open up their homes to guests outside of family. And I have to admit, the modern life’s pace doesn’t lend itself well to hospitality. But is this a good enough reason to ignore this little phrase?

Perhaps having a hospitable heart is more about our attitude. Do we open up our homes freely when we are given the chance? Do we make people feel comfortable and welcomed, no matter where we meet them? Do we gladly share our resources and time as we are given the opportunity?

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.

Christians bless those who persecute them. We love our enemies (Matthew 5:43-48). This is humanly impossible. You do realize this, right? Only a true believer could bless the one that is hurting them. Do we love our enemies? Do we pray for them? Do we care for their souls? This is a great sign that we are a genuine Christian. If we struggle with this one, perhaps our first step should be to pray that God would help us to do this.

15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.

Fellow Christians rejoice and weep with one another. Instead of jealousy and envy making us sulky at a Christian sister’s good fortune, we are genuinely glad for them. And when bad news hits, we weep with them. We surround our brother or sister with Christian love and care.

16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.

True Christians are humble. Their opinions about themselves are not inflated and they are not boastful. They are no respecter of persons and they don’t care about someone’s popularity. They will talk freely with and offer their aid to anyone, no matter their age, sex, race, status, or reputation.

17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.

Christians do not take revenge on those that have hurt them. (Connects pretty closely to blessing those that persecute us, doesn’t it?) We are known for our regard of good things (true, right, holy) by anyone who happens to be watching us.

18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.

It is not possible to always be at peace with all people. Some decide they hate you and, no matter what you do, you can’t change their minds. But this verse gives us comfort. If it is possible. God clearly recognizes that it isn’t always possible. But as much as it depends on us, we are to be at peace with all people. Have we done all we can to bring about peace with those around us? This should describe us, as believers.

19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
If he is thirsty, give him a drink;
For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”

Again, we are faced with our attitude about our enemies. Genuine believers are not to live with revenge burning in our hearts. We are to actually do the opposite and reach out to an enemy in need. We are to do this and let God take care of the rest. Only God could enable a heart and mind to love an enemy in this way. Only God.

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

And, finally, a genuine believer is not overcome by the evil of this world. Instead, we overcome the evil with good! We know that God is in control, no matter how evil this world gets and that He will triumph! Our job is to shine His light and go forth as witnesses in our homes, work places, on the sidelines and bleachers of athletic events, in our churches, and when we are shopping. Any time. All times.


The Bible functions as a mirror (James 1:22-24) and Romans 12 is an especially painful place to look at my reflection. While I do see some of these in my life, I also see much need for growth. I hope that this glance at this chapter has encouraged and challenged you, like it has me.

May we cast aside our pride and may the Holy Spirit fill us with a desire to be more like Christ as we continue on in our life’s journey. I am so thankful that we have the Bible to cast light on our path and to show us which direction we should be headed. Let’s try to live out Romans 12 this week and every week. And in so doing, may we shine brightly for Christ in this dark world!


Are You More Like Saul or David?

It is springtime in our area. The dull, barren ground is turning different shades of green as grasses and weeds come back to life after being dormant all winter. The trees are pushing forth leaves and blooms. The world is coming alive again with vibrant colors. It is one of my favorite times of  year.

What do the plants need to grow?

If you had any science in school, then you probably already know this. They need water, and sunshine, and warm temperatures. They need the nutrients that are in the soil and they need to be disease-free so that they are able to take up those nutrients and process them correctly.

Just as a plant needs certain things to grow, so, too, do we Christians.

I have been reading about David and Saul in I Samuel over the past few weeks and I was so struck by the contrast of these two men. David was called a “man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22) while King Saul was called rebellious, stubborn, and was eventually rejected as Israel’s King (I Samuel 15:23).

Both men committed grave sins. Both men made some really bad choices. We know this because of the events recounted in scripture. One was not a greater sinner than the other–so why was one called “a man after God’s own heart” while the other one was rejected? What made the difference?

I believe there are four very critical differences and that these differences determined their relationship with God–

1) When confronted, David was repentant while Saul was not. In 2 Samuel 12:13, Nathan confronts David about his sin. Without hesitation, David admits his sin and offers no excuses. Compare that to I Samuel 13:11-14, where Samuel confronts Saul about offering a burnt sacrifice himself instead of waiting for Samuel and going through the proper channels. Here we read no less than three excuses and not even one admission of wrong-doing.

In order for growth, transformation, and change to take place, a heart and mind willing to admit wrongdoing and then to repent of that wrongdoing is critical. Excuses will just keep one mired in sin. Like quicksand, it keeps us floundering and hopeless and stuck because we want to blame everyone else for our problems instead of taking ownership of our sins and then working along with the Holy Spirit to eradicate the sin.

2) David is teachable, while Saul is proud. We can see this as we read the Psalms and also as we read the accounts of both David and Saul. This comes across so clearly. A proud heart is never a teachable heart. When one is proud, a know-it-all attitude often comes with it. When there is questioning, it is often done with a demanding spirit–as if they deserve to be told the answer. True humility leads to a teachable heart and this is what we saw in David’s life, both in his writings and in the accounts of his life. In contrast, Saul was a proud man–seeking to kill the man who threatened his kingship and contacting a medium (and going completely against God’s command) when searching for an answer.

The difference is so striking and, honestly, we can see this played out over and over all around us. Pride yields stagnancy, strife, and broken relationships, while a teachable spirit yields vibrant growth and loving, healthy relationships.

3) David was willing to wait on the Lord, while Saul tried to manipulate events to his advantage. David had to wait a very long time to become King. David shows us his heart in Psalm 130:5-6–

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
And in His word I do hope.
My soul waits for the Lord
More than those who watch for the morning—
Yes, more than those who watch for the morning.

But we find Saul trying to take matters into his own hands. He clearly did not trust the Lord. Again, the most obvious examples of this are his efforts to eliminate David in order to preserve his kingdom and his sin in contacting a witch to discern what to do. Instead of waiting on the Lord, he jumped ahead and tried to fix things himself.

And what a difference we see! David, anointed as a young man, finally becomes King of Israel at the age of thirty (2 Samuel 5:4). In contrast, three of Saul’s sons are killed and Saul is mortally wounded and ends up committing suicide (I Samuel 31:1-6).

We all have a choice. We can trust in the Lord and wait on Him. Or we can jump ahead and try to manipulate circumstances and fix them to our advantage. One choice leads the believer to vigorous growth and the other leads to spiritual murkiness.

4) David upheld and was dedicated to God’s Word while Saul was more interested in his own opinions and experiences. Psalm 19:7-11 shows us clearly how David felt about God’s Word–

The law of the Lord is perfect, [e]converting the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
Yea, than much fine gold;
Sweeter also than honey and the [f]honeycomb.
11 Moreover by them Your servant is warned,
And in keeping them there is great reward.

He was passionate about the Word of God and this Psalm has inspired, comforted, and reminded many Christians through the ages of the importance of it.

Saul, on the other hand, was more interested in himself. As this site puts it–

“In essence, Saul’s root character flaw is self-exaltation and self-deception. He thinks he knows better than everyone else, including God. The biggest tragedy is that he’s not even aware of it. The story shows he is completely blind to his arrogance and always believes he’s in the right.” (The Bible Project: King Saul and Self-Deception)

Growth is always greatly hindered when we care more about our own opinions and experiences than we do about the Word. Again, we can see this play out over and over again in the “Christian” culture around us. How often are people much more interested in their own version of “right” and “fair” than in what the Bible teaches? Even going so far as to ignoring proper hermeneutics and twisting scripture to make it say what they want? And, yet, this doesn’t lead to any growth, but rather to a deceived, self-absorbed believer at best or to an unsaved follower of a false religion wrongly called “Christianity” at worst.





Trusting in and Waiting Upon the Lord.

Viewing God’s Word as my Anchor and Guide for Life.


These four things provide a great environment for spiritual growth! The honest question we all must ask ourselves is this: How do I measure up? Are these four things evident in my life?

We may be doing pretty good at one or two of them and struggle with the others. Or we may be doing “okay” at all of them, but could do so much better. Or we may have never even thought about this and have no idea.

If we are really brave, we will ask our spouse or someone else that is close to us. Do they view us as repentant? As teachable? Do we exhibit a willingness to wait on the Lord? Do we uphold God’s Word?

Sometimes this can be very painfully eye-opening but it will be so worth it because it will get us moving in the right direction.

So let’s examine ourselves in light of David and Saul. Which one are we more like?


Disregarded Sins

The other day my phone screen went black. I could hear the texts coming in but I couldn’t see them. I fooled with the buttons but nothing I did was successful in giving me back my screen. In my thoughts, I started to complain. What in the world? Why now? Normally, I will tell someone where I am going, but not this time. If I didn’t answer texts, my family might worry. Thankfully, there was an AT&T store nearby so I stopped in there, borrowed the phone of a nice man to call my husband and let him know what was going on, and spent an hour (or more) trying to figure out how to solve my problem.

Somewhere during that hour, while I was waiting for the AT&T representative to return from the back of the store, I realized what a ridiculously unimportant, first-world problem I was having. Really? I am going to complain (in my head, mind you) about such a thing? What is wrong with me?

But we do it so easily, don’t we? We literally complain about everything. Or am I alone in this?

Every time I read Numbers 11, I am struck by God’s lack of tolerance with complaining. Go ahead and look it up. It is incredibly sobering. God hates complaining. It is a vile sin and strikes at the very heart of His sovereignty in our lives. Any complaint-no matter how big or small–is a way to let God know that we are not happy with our lot in life. We are in essence letting Him know that we don’t think He is doing a good job and that, at this particular moment in life, we really don’t trust Him.

We don’t normally think of complaining like this. We view it much more casually than it really is.

Philippians 2:14 lets us know that God’s hatred of complaining continues on into the church age–

Do all things without complaining and disputing.

All things. When our phone dies. When it rains for our summer picnic. When we get sick. When our arm hurts. When someone disappoints us. When we are betrayed. When something really bad happens. We are supposed to live all of life without complaining. That is a really tall order in a complaint-drenched society.

Complaining can become almost habitual if we aren’t careful. It can even be the main gist of the conversation when we hang with friends or family. It can become a way of life.

But perhaps it is time to change. God hates it. This is reason enough to break ourselves of the habit.

As if that isn’t enough, in the next chapter, Numbers 12, we go on to read about the sins of gossip and envy.

Numbers 12:1-2 puts it like this–

Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married; for he had married an Ethiopian woman. So they said, “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?” And the Lord heard it.

The Lord becomes so angry about this that He strikes Miriam with leprosy!

Was He more angry about the envy than the gossip? We can’t really know, but we do know that both are sins that are very serious in God’s eyes.

We read about gossip in Proverbs 16:28: A perverse man sows strife, And a whisperer separates the best of friends. 

And envy is one of the ten commandments (Exodus 20:17): You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.

Both are considered sin in the Lord’s eyes. And for that Miriam paid dearly.

But in this age of grace, we are not often struck down for complaining or for gossiping or for holding envy in our heart towards someone. Does this mean it is any less grievous to God than it was in the Old Testament? Has the age of grace changed how God views sin?

Most certainly not.

And it’s these sins we view as small and inconsequential that can be the most damaging to those of us who truly desire to live a life pleasing to the Lord.

While we feel pretty good about ourselves for avoiding the big, obvious sins, these other sins sneak in unobtrusively through the cracks in our spiritual armor and before we know it, they have taken up permanent residence in our souls.

Has any of these sins made themselves comfortable in your Christian life today? I know I had to really do a heart and mind check after reading these two chapters.

If God hates these things so much, why do we treat them so casually?

After awhile, we can get discouraged. When we realize some of the sins that have become a part of the fabric of our lives, we can be frustrated or overwhelmed. I don’t believe this is what God intends.

We know He uses the Word to convict and correct us (2 Timothy 3:16) and we know that we are foolish to read the Word and then to remain unchanged (James 1:22-25). And so, as God shows us the sin in our lives, we should thank Him and then begin to intentionally eradicate (or at least greatly lessen!) that particular sin in our lives.

And here’s the wonderful thing–not only will we please God but we will reap the wonderful benefits personally. Curtailing sin has a way of doing that.

If we aren’t complaining all the time, it is much easier to be grateful. And when we are grateful, we are much more content. And when we are more content we are just naturally happier. See how this works?

When we make pleasing God our main priority, He naturally takes care of our peace and happiness. It’s an amazing thing. God’s plan for us is right and good. He is not a mean ogre in the sky making demands (as some people would think). He is a gentle and loving God who wants and knows what is best for us. And it is best for us to not complain, to not gossip, and to not be envious.

But, most importantly, it is best for Him and His glory. What kind of testimony are we if we have these sins in our lives?

When Christians gossip? Envy? Complain? What kind of impression is the world getting?

I’ll tell you: They are thinking “these Christians are just like us.” And, rightly so–because it’s true.

We can remove all kinds of worldly things in our lives but if we are complaining, if we are gossiping, if we are filled with envy–well, we are still very worldly. And we are a discredit to our Lord and Savior.

I say all this to myself, too. It is convicting to think about, is it not? And these sins sneak in so subtly, don’t they? May we never let our guards down.

I thank the Lord for His Word and I thank the Lord that, through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can change. It is never too late!

Let’s begin that change today.



There’s More to Christianity Than Doing Good Works

“The reason Social Justice is attractive to the church is because it doesn’t invite criticism.” My brother (Pastor Dean) said these words as we talked on the phone yesterday. I immediately realized just how profound his words were.

Perhaps they are words each and every one of us should reflect upon.

There are many good things the church does that all people love. It matters not if they are Christian or not Christian. Nothing matters as we work hard with our fellow man to make the world a better place. This includes things like–

Feeding the hungry ♥ Adopting orphans ♥ Caring for the homeless ♥ Providing fresh water for third world villages ♥ Providing food, clothing, and shelter to needy families ♥ Giving money to charities

Who in their right mind is going to oppose such things?

And, just to be clear, I am not opposed to these things. And neither should any of us be. The Bible is clear: We are told to care for orphans (James 1:27); we are to help our fellow man– and particularly our Christians brothers and sisters– who are in need (Ephesians 4:28; Hebrews 6:10). These are good things to do.

But these aren’t the only things Christians are to be doing. Doing good for others is just a part of what it means to live a godly, righteous life.

There’s so much more. But the “more” doesn’t often draw the praise of man.

As soon as we go out into the world and preach the Gospel–the clear, unadulterated Gospel as the scripture teaches it–we immediately invite the antagonism, the scorn, and the hatred of the world.

And as soon as we try to teach and live out the Christian life that is clearly mandated in scripture among the murky and muddy waters that is the mainstream church we invite the antagonism, the scorn, and the hatred of that church.

When we bring a message the world doesn’t want to hear, such as you cannot be reconciled to God without believing in Jesus Christ (John 14:6), we will be criticized, mocked, and labeled. We may even be persecuted. By both the world and those claiming to belong to the church.

When we bring a message the mainstream church doesn’t want to hear, such as encouraging believers to practice discernment (Hebrews 5:14), be separate from the world (James 1:27), and strive for holiness (I Peter 1:15-16), criticism and animosity will often rain down upon our head from within the church doors.

This is why so many of us choose to do the Christian things that invite the praise and laud of people. And it’s also why we avoid doing the Christian things that invite criticism.

How much do you care what people think about you? Does this change what you stand for or stand against?

I have to be honest and let you know right up front that this has been–by far–my biggest battle in this ministry.

It is natural for people to want to be liked and I am no exception. I don’t want to be labeled divisive, negative, unloving, arrogant, and whatever other words I have been called.

And yet, over and over again, God continues to remind me that my job is to please Him, first and foremost. As believers, our priority is to do all to the glory and pleasure of our Lord, irrespective of the opinions of man.

The opinions of those around us are, in essence, irrelevant.

Now reflect on that truth for just a few seconds. Why do we do what we do? How do we feel if we do something good and it goes unnoticed? How do we respond when we are faced with a choice to speak out against something we know God hates or a false teacher that is leading someone we love astray? Do we have the courage to share the Gospel unapologetically with the lost all around us? Are we truly living like no one’s opinion matters but God’s?

Inside each of us, a battle rages between the flesh and our new man. And the flesh wants to be pleasing to our fellow man. It is just how we are. But when we are saved, we have a new purpose. We seek first God and His Kingdom (Matthew 6:33). We are new creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17). Everything is changed.

In theory, that is.

In real life, it doesn’t just happen. It is a daily struggle.

However, as new creatures, we must fight this fight. For if we let the flesh win, it is not without deadly consequences. Think of how many children in Christian homes have grown up and gone out to live ungodly lives in the world because parents didn’t want to be unpopular? Think of how many inroads Satan has made into the lives of believers because they want to be cool to their friends? How many have followed false teachers because their Christian friends are afraid to speak up? Think of the light that has gone out in the church because of the desire to win the praise of the world?

If we aren’t willing to be different than the world and if we are driven by a passion to please the world (or the compromised, mainstream church), we will be rendered ineffective for the cause of Christ.

Sure, we can do all sorts of nice things for others and make this temporal world a better place to live in, but if we aren’t sharing the Gospel and pointing people to biblical Christian living, what eternal good are we even accomplishing?

Are we more likely to do the things that draw the praise of man? Do we shy away from the righteous and good things that draw criticism?

Pastor Dean’s words really made me think. And, once again, I was reminded: My priority is to please God.

Am I living to please God or are my daily life choices based on pleasing those around me? It is an important question that we should probably all give some thought to.


My Way or His Way?

In 1969 a song was written by Paul Anka that was made popular by a crooner named Frank Sinatra. The song has a thoughtful and appealing tune and is called “My Way”.  The final stanza of the song does a good job of summing up the song–

For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things he truly feels and not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows and did it my way
Yes, it was my way

It’s pretty clear that this song is an anti-Christian song since the entire song is like a theme for humanism. The author did things his way and didn’t answer to any supreme being or any human being. Of course, the author will answer to God one day, if he hasn’t already. So why am I talking about a 50 year old song?

I’ll tell you why.

Because I have seen more and more people who claim to be Christians live by this mantra:

I did it my way.

I’ll do it my way.

And then, eventually, in our obsession with our dreams, our purposes, and our goals, we end up believing that…

God exists to help me do it my way.

We are concerned only about our way.

The thing is…

Biblical Christianity teaches the opposite–

• Instead of being obsessed with our own plans and dreams, we are to submit to God’s plans. (Rom 14:8)

• Instead of being driven by our selfish desires, we are to deny ourselves. (Luke 9:23)

• Instead of thinking only of ourselves and our purpose and desires, we are to think of others. (Phil 2:3)

It’s easy to point a finger at others and shake our heads in sadness or disgust. See how selfishly they are living? Isn’t that a shame? But, while we may not ascribe to self-centered living in theory, how often do we live it without realizing it?

I am amazed, even though I have been walking with the Lord all these years, at how often I am driven by my own selfish desires and will. And disgusted at how often I find myself obsessing about myself and my happenings. Can you relate? Or am I alone on this one?

I think one of the greatest challenges of walking with the Lord is this:

Living for Him instead of for me.

And, in this current church culture, we aren’t even given this challenge, are we? We are told that we can live for ourselves and expect God to swoop in and be our personal genie to help us fulfill our big dreams and realize our insanely important purposes.

But God cares far more about our holiness than our happiness. (Romans 5:3-5)

And it’s not about us. Our lives are just a teeny-tiny point on the map of the universe and the timeline of history; both of which are utterly and absolutely under the sovereignty of God. (Isaiah 46:10)

God is choosing to use us for His glory and His purposes at this time. His glory. His purposes. (Ephesians 2:10)

I guess Paul sums it up best for all of us in Galatians 2:20–

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

This, as true believers, is our aspiration. We are to die to self and live for God. It is a message that isn’t heard very much anymore. You won’t hear it from most pulpits or read it in the Christian best-sellers. In a culture obsessed with only positive messages, this is a message that isn’t very popular.

Everyone wants to live life their way and they want a God who will bless them as they do things their way. And even those of us who truly desire to live for Christ can be swayed a bit by this wrong thinking about God.

And so I hope that today you will take some time to reflect on how you are living for yourself instead of for God. And while you do that, I’ll be doing the same. Just because I can write things like this, doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with the same things you do. It’s one thing to write. It’s another thing to live.

So let’s strive to live for God together, always turning to His Word for guidance and direction. And, in a world full of people obsessed with doing things “my way”,  let’s do things His way.


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