Tag Archives: relationship with God

Fresh Faith

This life can get to be repetitive, and to be honest, so can our Christian life. It’s easy to settle into a groove and put ourselves on autopilot. We can then fall into danger by allowing our faith the be about rituals more than relationship. Even the disciples were susceptible to this, and they physically walked with Jesus daily. Can you imagine what that must have been like? They heard the greatest teaching daily and were witnesses to countless miracles, yet they were susceptible to letting even that become old hat and ordinary. That’s when someone came up to Jesus and told Him Lazarus was gravely ill and needed healing immediately.

When Jesus didn’t immediately go, I’m sure the disciples started to get shook out of their routine. They thought it was odd that He didn’t immediately go. Instead, He waited two days before beginning the 2 day journey to Him. The disciples objected to Jesus going there because the religious leaders were ready to kill Him. Then, in John 11:14-15 Jesus said, “Lazarus died. And I am glad for your sakes that I wasn’t there. You’re about to be given new grounds for believing. Now let’s go to him” (MSG).

Jesus knew the disciples needed new grounds for believing. If they needed it, how much more do we? I believe when there are things in our lives that don’t make sense to us, it could be God trying to give us new grounds for believing. Notice how urgently we start seeking Him when things happen out of the ordinary. Notice how much more we rely on Him. I believe God allows things to happen to us so we will break out of our rut and find fresh faith. Relationships on autopilot usually struggle. It’s the ones that keep things fresh and new that survive. God wants to have a fresh relationship with us. Don’t let whatever is going on in your life push you away from God. Let it give you fresh grounds for believing.

Photo by John Salvino on Unsplash

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Protecting Our Relationship With God

I get the opportunity to talk to different people all the time. Inevitably someone wants to ask me relationship questions. I’m not a trained counselor or anything like that, but as I listen to these stories, there’s a constant thread through all of them. The problems they’re experiencing are a result of a lot of little things that have crept in and gone unchecked. Also, they haven’t done things to protect the relationship. When that happens, the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back ends up happening and it gets the blame. The truth is it was several small, basic things that added up.

Just like any relationship, we have to make sure that we do the small, basic things in our relationship with Christ. We need to set parameters and protect it. We live in a connected world where everything seems to be vying for your attention. If we allow little things to distract us and keep us from praying or reading our Bible or going to church, it will become difficult to have that relationship that God wants to have with us. We must protect that time. We must make it sacred so that nothing and no one comes between us and God.

I’m reading the Bible book Song of Songs (Solomon) in the Passion translation. They’ve taken it and put in red letters the parts that are allegorically from God. Chapter 2:15 says this to us from God, “You must catch the troubling foxes, those sly little foxes that hinder our relationship. For they raid our budding vineyard of love to ruin what I’ve planted within you. Will you catch them and remove them for me? We will do it together” (TPT). God is asking us to protect our relationship with Him. I also love that just like any other relationship, it’s not just one side’s responsibility. We need to work together with God to remove the obstacles in our relationship so it can grow.

Photo by S Alb on Unsplash

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The Monopoly Mindset


One of my favorite games as a kid was Monopoly. We could sit up for hours playing it. The goal was to buy as much property as you could, and if possible, to buy Boardwalk and Park Place. One of the underlying things that game teaches you is if you buy enough things, you’ll win. That reminds me of a guy who lived in my town. He had a customized truck that I thought was awesome. It had a sticker on the back windshield that read, “He who has the most toys wins!” It’s that same attitude of owning things equals winning.

When our identity and self image is tied to things we own, it’s a pretty hard fall when we lose them. It’s not bad to own things; it’s bad to be owned by things. To discover which type of person we are, we have to ask ourselves about the motivating factor in having them. Is it a want or a deep seated need in us to own them? When we feel we need them in order to feel a certain way or to project a certain image, owning things can be a problem.

In Luke 12:15, Jesus said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own” (NLT). That’s the opposite of our Monopoly mindset. We associate winning with owning things and God associates winning with having a relationship with Him. Can you have both? Of course. I know plenty of people who are blessed beyond measure because they give tithes, offerings, and more to meet the needs of others. They’ve recognized that their identity is in God, and all they have is His, so it’s not hard to give away what they have.

We can’t afford to sacrifice our relationship with God in order to own things or to build our wealth. As Jesus said in Luke 12:21, “A person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.” Are you spending your quality time building your portfolio or your relationship with God? You can win at life, but lose at eternity. Invest in building a relationship with God. You will find that once you seek Him first, all these other things will be added to you. It’s a matter of priorities and God wants to be first in your life.

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Spiritual Adjustment

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Every once in a while, my body gets out of alignment. My back hurts, my neck gets tight and I get headaches. I try laying on the floor to pop my back myself. When that doesn’t work, I have my wife stand on it to try to pop it. When all else fails, I visit a chiropractor to give me an alignment. He hooks me up to a machine that sends electric pulses to the muscles and places warm blankets on top. He then comes in and begins to pop my back and put everything back into alignment. It’s not fun, but when I walk out of there, I feel a lot better.

From time to time, you and I can get spiritually misaligned. We lack interest to go to church, we quit reading the Bible and we barely pray. We tell others that we need to get back to those things, but nothing ever happens. We keep going until something bad happens and we go back to church for a spiritual alignment. It’s a cycle that a lot of us go through. When times are good, we forget we need God. When things go wrong, we suddenly remember He is our help in times of need.

Since the beginning of time, that’s the story of the human race. We are constantly in need of spiritual adjustment. We walk out of church feeling great and have a renewed purpose. We do great for a little while, but slowly we begin to fade. We hit to the snooze button instead of getting up to pray. We fall asleep before we crack open the Bible. We tell ourselves, “Tomorrow I’ll read. Tomorrow I’ll pray.” Tomorrow becomes a week, a week a month and so on. It’s the cycle I’ve been on too many times. So how do we stay spiritually aligned?

It’s much like any relationship. It takes work, time and effort. We need to be adjusted when we begin to look at the things needed to maintain the relationship as a checklist. When we look at them like a checklist, they become chores and no one likes chores. God isn’t into making us do chores. He wants us to love Him the way He loves us. He wants us to want to do the things that keep our relationship fresh. He wants us to want to spend time with Him. He doesn’t want us to feel as though we have to.

Ephesians 4:23 gives us the answer. It says, “Be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind, having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude. (AMP)” We have to constantly find ways to keep our mind and spirit renewed. We have to switch things up. Read a different version of the Bible to gain fresh perspective. Change the time and place you pray. Sit in a different seat at church. Get out of your routine and find a fresh love for God. That’s how you get your spiritual adjustment. Stay out of a rut and constantly renew your mental and spiritual attitude.

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Shifting The Prism

One of my regular prayers is that God would shift the prism through which I see Him and others. I see almost everything in black and white. I was raised in an unbroken home and at the same church my whole life. There hasn’t been a whole lot of shifting where I change my perspective of who He is and how I see Him. Over time and with life experience, I have shifted and changed. I see God differently because of what I’ve seen Him do in my life and in the lives of others. I just don’t want to get complacent with where I am or how I see Him. I don’t want to box Him in to what I think He should be.

The early church went through a lot of shifting. In Acts 10, Peter was praying on the balcony while he was waiting for lunch. God gave him a vision of a blanket being lowered down with religiously unclean animals in it. God told Peter to kill and eat, but he refused because he had never touched food that wasn’t Kosher. God came back and said, “Don’t call unclean what I have called clean.” It was then that he was awakened by his vision from visitors knocking. A man named Cornelius was told by an angel to get Peter so he could hear what he had to say.

Peter traveled the next day to Cornelius’ house with the group that came for him. When he spoke to the people who had gathered, they were filled with Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues. Peter was shocked. How could non-Jews have received God’s gift? He turned to the Jews who had traveled with them and said, “Do I hear any objections to baptizing these friends with water? They’ve received the Holy Spirit exactly as we did.” That event created a fundamental shift in how they saw God. They now saw that God’s plan of salvation was for Jews and non-Jews alike. It changed their ministry.

My prayer is that God would radically change me so that I see deeper into His Word than I do now. I pray that He shifts my focus so that I can connect things that I’ve never seen or understood in it. When I understand what He says, then I can know Him more. When I know Him more, my life is forever altered. I cannot accept that I know God as much as I will ever know Him. I cannot believe that I know everything that I will ever know about Scripture. I have to put myself in position to be shifted. I have to spend time in prayer so He can show me. I have to be willing to go with strangers to see what God is doing.

What about you? Are you willing to allow God to reveal more of Himself to you? Are you open to Him showing things that will fundamentally alter how you see Him? What can you do to put yourself in position to be shifted so you see Him in a different light? My prayer is that God would radically change us in the Church who have become complacent with our view of Him. I pray that He would reveal Himself to us like we’ve never seen. We don’t need to fix the Church. It’s not our responsibility. We need to fix our relationship with Him and that will change the Church. We need to change the prism through which we view God and that will change the world.

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Digging Deeper

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It’s Free Friday! Today is the day you let go of the things in your life that keep you down or hold you back from all God has for you. To celebrate, I’m giving away a copy of “Dug Down Deep: Unearthing What I Believe and Why It Matters” by Joshua Harris. Keep reading to find out how to enter.

Let me ask you a few questions. Who is the President of the United States? What is their spouse’s name? How many kids do they have? What are their names? Do they have any pets? What are their names? Where do they live? What did they do before becoming president? Do you personally know the president? If you answered no to that last one, but were able to answer the others, you know about the president, but you don’t really know them. It’s the same thing with Christianity. So many of us can answer a lot of questions about God and the Bible, but so few really know Him in comparison.

Think of your best friend. What makes them your best friend? I would imagine that you have been through a lot together. They have stood with you through thick and thin. When others abandoned you in the hard times, they stuck with you. They don’t just show up in your good times. You’ve built a relationship with them through good times and bad. You know more than the surface level things about them. You know the intimate details, their struggles, their fears, their hopes and the dreams they’ve never told anyone else. That’s the difference in knowing about someone and knowing them.

When you look at the image of the tree above, that’s what happens in our relationship with God when storms come and our relationship is only surface level. When we haven’t taken the time to really get to know Him, His Word, His thoughts, His dreams and His plans, our roots are only surface level. We can look big and mighty, but the truth is, it wouldn’t take a whole lot to knock us over. How do I know? I’ve lived it. I’ve been that oak tree that looked strong, but the truth was that everything was surface level. Nothing was really deep.

As I lay on my side like that oak, I had a decision to make: I could lay there like that, rot away and die or I could get back up and grow my roots down deep into what I already believed and knew so much about. I chose the later. I decided my meeting with a God wouldn’t be just on Sundays. I chose to read His Word for myself rather than just listening to someone else telling me what it said. I decided to be honest with God in my prayers rather than giving shallow platitudes. I needed Him to be my rock in the bad times and not just someone I blessed in the good times. I had to dig my roots down deep in Him, like Colossians 2:7 says, so that my life began to be built on Him.

In the process, I had to give up some relationships that distracted from that goal. I had to make hard choices about what thoughts I let enter my mind. I had to choose to walk away from distractions in my life. I knew I didn’t want to be blown over again in another storm. That’s still my motivating factor in digging down deeper in Him. I know that the deeper my relationship is with God, the deeper my roots will be. The deeper my roots, the stronger I am. I won’t just appear to be strong, I’ll really be strong. You have the ability to make the same choice. Get free of the things in your life that hold you to a surface level relationship with God. When you do, your roots will begin to grow down instead of out.

If you would like to win a copy of “Dug Down Deep” by Joshua Harris, all you have to do is sign up to receive my devotions in your email. There is a box on the right hand side of my web page where you can enter it. I will randomly pick one person tomorrow (May 24, 2014) who has liked my page today. If you have already signed up to receive these devotions by email, thank you. If you enjoy reading them, please forward them to your friends and invite them to subscribe as well.

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Loving Your Neighbor

How would your life be different if you really cared about others? Think about it for a second. We say we care about others, but do our actions reflect that? Right after Jesus told us what the Greatest Commandment was, He said, “The second one is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” Loving your neighbor is as equally important as loving God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. So why is it easier to love God that way, but not our neighbor?

I’m the same as you. I’ve got neighbors I like and ones that I don’t. They mow their grass at inappropriate times, they host parties until 4 AM, they don’t keep up their yards or houses and they aren’t friendly. Jesus didn’t allow for those excuses here. He didn’t say love them if they’re easy to love. He said love them as you love yourself. If you would do something for yourself, you should be willing to do it for your neighbor. You should put their needs above yours.

I know this isn’t easy and I’m guilty of not loving my neighbors as I should. If we’re serious about our faith and we’re serious about seeing God’s Kingdom grow, we’ve got to shift the focus from ourselves and onto others. In Luke 10:29, someone asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” He then told them the parable of the Good Samaritan. When He finished, Jesus asked, “Which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits?” They replied, “The one who showed mercy.” Then Jesus told us to go do the same.

Loving our neighbors, as illustrated in that parable, isn’t just those who live next to you. It’s anyone you see or come across who is in need. We are to love them and do for them what we would do for ourselves if we were in that situation. I saw a man yesterday sitting outside the 99 cent store playing guitar with his case open for money. I asked my wife, “Why is he sitting outside the 99 cent store and not in front of a store where people who have money are?” Her reply was, “He knows they carry cash.”

The more I think about it, the more I realize that the people going in there are more likely to give to him than someone at an expensive store. Even though they only have a little, they’re more willing to give. Most people who have money aren’t willing to let go of it easily. Jesus illustrated that in the Good Samaritan as well. The people who should have helped the man who was robbed, walked by on the other side of the street. The one who no one thought would help, put the man on his own donkey and walked to the next town. He took care of the stranger’s wounds. He paid for his food, lodging and medical bills. He loved his neighbor the way we’re supposed to.

What neighbors in need has God put in your life that you’ve passed up constantly? Who can you show mercy to today? I think there’s no better way to show God we love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength than to love others who need it most like we love ourselves. How would your life change if you really loved others that way? How would your relationship with God grow if you did? Open your eyes today to see what neighbor God puts in your path and then love them the way you love yourself.

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