Saturday, June 27, 2015

Rely on God's Love

When you rely on someone you're expecting them to be there and to do what they said they would do. You move forward believing they will be there. You count on something happening.

I'm sure we all have stories of relying on someone and they didn't come through the way we expected. We know the disappointment of someone proving to be unreliable.

When I was reading in 1 John recently, I was struck by the words in one of the verses.

1 John 4:16 says:
"And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love."

In this verse, John is telling us that not only can we have knowledge God loves us, we can rely on it. We can rest our entire lives on the truth that God loves us and He will never prove unreliable.

This verse goes on to tell us God is love.Because of that we can rely on God's love for us. We will never be disappointed or find it's not there.

Saturday, June 20, 2015


"You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world." (1 John 4:4)

These words follow a warning about false teachers and false spirits who deny that Jesus is God's Son. A warning about those who have been deceived by Satan and teaching things that are wrong.

John is reminding his readers that they don't have to be discouraged or defeated because of false teachers, because they are not greater than the God we serve - than the Holy Spirit living in each of us.

Satan and his demons deny the truth and want to deceive us. They attack us and try to defeat us.

But, we won't be defeated, because we have the Holy Spirit living in us and He is greater.

If this is true, then why are there so many defeated Christians walking around? If the Holy Spirit living in us is greater than anything Satan can throw at us, why do so many of live as though we can't get free of the lies that keep us chained?

If we're living out of the the truth of this verse and so many others in Scripture that talk about Satan already being defeated, then we should be living lives confident in our God and sure of the freedom He has purchased for us. Yet, the reality is so different from what it should be for too many Christians - even Christians who would declare these truths with their words.

I think the reason why so many Christians live a defeated life is because we only believe these words - this truth from Scripture - in our heads. We say we believe it, but it hasn't made its way to our hearts yet. And until it becomes something we believe in our hearts, we'll continue to live bound up and defeated lives. Because when we believe it with our hearts, it means we are willing to act on it.

Learning to believe the Holy Spirit living in us is greater than anything else Satan tries in our lives isn't something that will just happen. It won't just occur by accident.

We have to choose to trust God that it's true and act on it first. As we do, we will being to believe it in our hearts, as well as our heads. But, we have to make the choice first. The more we make the choice, the easier it becomes to live believing that because we've experienced it to be true.

What is one area in your life where you're struggling to believe that Holy Spirit in you is greater than the one who is in the world? Will you choose today to step into the truth and start living like its true in that area?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Redeeming the Label Christian

One of my first posts on this blog was about taking a break from the term Christian. In it, I talk about choosing not to self-identify with the label Christian anymore because of the many negative things associated with that label.

As I reread that post, I began to wonder if there was a different way to approach the negative things so often associated with the label Christian. What if, instead of seeking to avoid the name, we sought to redeem it? What if we decided to live in such a way that people began to associate something positive when they heard the label Christian?

Acts 11:26 tells us that "the disciples were called Christians first at Antioch." The church was already established at this point. The surrounding culture gave them the name knowing the reputation of the early believers for caring for and loving those in need around them.

In the 2,000 years since then, Christians have come to be associated with lots of negative. To be sure, we've deserved some of it as our actions, as a whole and as individuals, has been anything but Christ-like. But that doesn't mean it has to stay that way. We can change it.

We can build on the good that does still happen in the name of Christ. There is much good being done in the name of Christ and we should be building on that rather than simply trying to distance ourselves from being called by a name that has incredible history attached to it.

As Christians, we have a rich heritage. Even with all the times we've failed and messed up in representing Christ, we have a history of doing good in the name of Christ. We should be building on that, not running from it.

When we run from it, we leave behind both the good and the bad. A better choice would be to acknowledge the places where we've done wrong and learn from them, and build on the good that has been done.

We serve a God Who is all about redeeming our lives. He takes our failures, our sins, our wrongs, and He redeems them for His glory. I know God loves to and wants to redeem us individually. He does this all the time.

I believe He also wants to do this for those who claim Him name as a whole. God designed us to go through this life and He uses His church as a body. I believe this means He wants to do His redeeming work in us as a whole.

When we choose to run from everything in our past, God can't redeem it for His glory - not the good and not the bad. What if, instead of running from it, we sought to changes people's associations with the label Christians? It will take time, but it won't ever happen if it doesn't start somewhere.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Do You Believe God Heals?

Do you believe that God can heal?

Do you deep down in the depths of your soul believe that the power of the cross is enough to heal?

I know just by asking those questions, I'm heading into an area where opinions and experiences differ and have often been cause for debate and division among Christians. I have no intention of starting a debate on this hear. But, these are the questions I've been wrestling with lately.

When Jesus was on earth, He healed people. The Gospels are filled with accounts of Jesus healing. Acts is also filled with the early church praying for people and them being healed. Matthew 10:1 records Jesus sending out His disciples "to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness."

As I read through Scripture, I'm struck with the reality that the early church believed God could heal and they acted on that faith. I don't see anywhere in Scripture where it says God stopped healing people. And there's still stories to be heard around the world about how God has healed people.

I can agree that God has the ability to heal. Even that He does still heal people sometimes. The question becomes if I personally believe it's possible in my life or the lives of those I know. Bringing it from something in my head that I can say, to something that has an impact on how I live.

That's where my wrestling with the questions I opened this post with began. I was in a situation where my answers to those questions mattered - they would change my prayers. Those answers still matter and they still impact my prayers. I think we can all find ourselves in these situations at different times in life.

The truth is Scripture makes it pretty clear God can and does heal people. That being the case, it means I can, and should, believe it myself. And I can pray as if God does heal people today. That's what I'm asked to do as a Christian.

The challenge comes in my personal expectations of what believing God can heal and praying that He would entail. That's where I can become discouraged. And I think that's where much of the division and debate over this comes from. We've gone beyond what Scripture says and put our personal expectations on the same level.

Believing God can heal doesn't mean we ignore prudent medical advice. Believing God can heal doesn't mean we go around recklessly declaring God has healed people just because we prayed for them and we believe it.

Believing God can heal means we humbly come before Him and ask for Him to intervene. It means we allow room for both the miraculous that excites us and the path of following the treatment laid out - because eve in that, the healing at the end is still a work of God; He just chose to use other people to bring about that healing.

Believing God can heal means we allow space for God's plan to be beyond us when He doesn't heal the way we expected and prayed for Him to. It means we trust Him, even when His response doesn't make sense according to our plans and requests.

Ultimately, believing God can heal comes down to a decision to pray boldly and humbly, and then trust God with the outcome.

Do you believe God can heal?

Do you deep down in the depths of your soul believe that the power of the cross is enough to heal?

Do I believe this? As I wrestled with these questions, I've come to conclusion that I do. Now, it comes down to what that looks like moving forward in my life.

The same is true for you. What you believe about this will impact how you live - how you pray.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Desperate for the Truth

Most of the time I can go through life content with knowing just enough of the truth to keep going. I just need to have enough of God's truth in my life to be able to live a comfortable life. I may even know I'm deceived in a specific area, but it doesn't really bother me.

At least, that used to be how I lived. I can't live that way anymore. Not once I discovered the freedom that comes with knowing the truth.

Hearing the truth can be painful sometimes. And it can be difficult to learn how to live the truth - especially is we've been living deceived for a while.

But once we learn of the freedom the truth brings in our lives, we see no other way to really live. We become desperate for the truth.

I'm not talking about what we decide the truth is. Or what our culture tells us the truth is. Those will keep us living lives that are bound up in deception.

The truth we are really desperate for is God's truth - contained in His Word. God's truth is what sets us free. God's truth is what really allows us to live.

But we live in a world where truth isn't sought. A world where truth changes from person to person. We get caught in a trap of deception and we're now convinced it's the truth.

We're all caught in it to some degree. It's more obvious for some of us than for others. Sometimes we can hide the ways we're caught in the web of deception and sometimes we can't.

The good news is that we don't have to stay stuck. With God's help, we can begin to discover His truth - the real truth. The truth that frees us.

As we seek Him, we hear His truth spoken to the lies we've been believing. As we take the truth we hear and ask God to help us learn to live it, we find one more part of us is freed from the web of deception we've been tangled in.

As we begin to experience this freedom, we want more of it. We start to search for the truth because it is what sets us free.

We'll spend our entire lives on this seeking of God's truth. And we'll quickly discover it's a worthwhile way to live. Growing deeper in our relationship with God as we continue our desperate search for the truth.

Friday, June 5, 2015



Just me walking in the door.

The familiar question running through my head: Will there be anyone who comes today that I can sit with? Or will I sit alone again?

It's not that I don't feel welcome here. I do. I'm definitely at home here. It's a place of familiar faces.

But, it's still hard to sit alone so often.

The service is over. Everyone is heading out the doors. Some to pick up their kids and some to visit with others. Some are in a hurry to leave and some will linger.

Should I stay and try to find people to visit with? Or should I just quickly leave?

Some weeks I linger. Some weeks I go.

Conversations in settings like that are difficult for me - especially when I'm feeling alone. I want to connect, but sometimes it feels like because I'm alone, it's more difficult to connect. Maybe it's because I struggle with making small talk too.

Each time I go to church events of any kind, thoughts and struggles similar to these go through my head. As a single person, who is also an introvert, easily overwhelmed by crowds, going to church events can be hard.

I want to go, but I also struggle with it. I usually go anyways and put a smile on my face, but the truth is I'm fighting a battle with myself inside.

Sometimes it seems like I'm the odd one out in these settings. Everyone I talk to is married and often has kids. And that seems to make conversation more difficult - like there's less to find for common ground.

But, we were made to need each other. God made us to need relationship with people. We need to connect with others.

Sometimes our feelings can hinder our view of reality. In those moments when I'm feeling alone, it's far easier to further isolate myself from others, than to reach out to others and seek that connection. But, those are exactly the moments when we need to reach out most - when we need to push past the feelings of being alone and make connection with others.

When we seek that connection with others that God created us for, we begin to live the life that God intends for us to live.