Tagged christian

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spend this year with Jesus

[cross-posted to www.stepforwardtoday.com]

This is not the typical goal-setting, list-making, organizing-your-life type of stuff that you normally read at the beginning of a new year. Whether you’re at the top of the mountain anticipating all that 2019 has waiting for you, or you’re trying to lift your hands in worship from the trenches of brokenness, the key to this next year – and really, the rest of your life – is to take it step-by-step, second-by-second, with God…not just “God with us at Christmas,” but every day. This year: Prioritize deepening your spiritual life.

Walk with God Every Day
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 NIV)

  • What are your first thoughts when you wake up? Are you dashing out of bed into the day without any minutes to spare? Even if you can’t set your alarm earlier, make it a habit to tune your thoughts toward God. Thank Him for this new day and ask Him to walk with you through it. If you have concerns, doubts, fears, tell Him. If this is new for you, stick a reminder on your bathroom mirror or other go-to spot to help you recognize God first in your day.
  • As you go through the rest of your day, can you see Jesus with you? Sitting in the chair next to you? How about the passenger seat of your car? In your meeting at work? Working out with you? What would you say to Him? What is He saying to you? God is with us 24/7, but since we can’t visually see Him, use your imagination to picture Him next to you.
  • What time of day is best to call on Jesus? Every second! He’s walking with you and He wants to hear from you. Any moment is a good one to call on Him, talk to Him, thank Him, and bring your needs before Him. He is “a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Prov. 18:24).

Make Your Decisions with God
“The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.” (Isaiah 58:11)

  • No decision is too big or too small for God. If you’re making a decision about anything at all, ask God for His wisdom and guidance…and then be prepared for His answer. He will direct you and inspire you – but you must also be open to His plans and be willing to change yours accordingly.

Practice Being in His Presence
“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” (1 John 4:16)

  • To love God and follow Him is to know Him and make time for Him. In addition to walking through the day with Him and consulting Him, the best way to deepen your relationship is to spend time with Him. The silence can be uncomfortable, but simply resting in His Presence is powerful. Maybe you would enjoy sitting in a comfortable spot or going for a walk. There’s no right or wrong way to spend your quiet time with Him…and if you find yourself nodding off, don’t feel guilty; discipline takes practice.

Embrace the Power of His Holy Spirit
“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” (John 14:26)

  • As you’re walking with God daily, consulting Him, getting to know Him through His Word and spending time with Him, rely on the power of His Holy Spirit. It’s His strength that will get you through difficult situations and allow you to take the risks He wants you to take to accomplish His plans and explore the gifts and talents He’s given you.

If you want 2019 to be different, if you want to take charge of your life, if you want to see real change, spend this year with Jesus. If you have questions or need help deepening your spiritual life, reach out. I’m not an expert, but I’m here to walk with you!

Pursuing God with You!

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unpack your bags

[cross-posted to www.stepforwardtoday.com]

As part of my fun and curious quest to read the Bible chronologically, I recently read through the book of Leviticus. Quite honestly, I slogged through the book of Leviticus. The entire book is about all of the rules, sacrifices and procedures required to be clean before God — or make atonement for sin — and it completely sets the stage for the time when God would send Jesus to be the ultimate sacrifice for all sins, putting an end to the Levitical system.

I’m a very visual person, so as I was reading, all of these unwanted pictures about what was happening were running through my mind. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to be the priest, and I thought about how fearful and dejected the people must have been: “Is this animal an acceptable sacrifice for my sin? Did I follow the right number of days or the right type of sacrifice to be purified?” Can you imagine the burden of living like that every single day?

Many times I asked myself, “Why am I reading this book?” because I was pretty certain God would be cool with me just skipping it. “God, I know you had a plan here, but really? Like this is what you came up with?” However, I knew if I kept reading, there was going to be some little gem in there that God was going to speak to me through. By the time I got to chapter 26, I was beginning to doubt that this gem existed in Leviticus, but then, there it was in verses 12 and 13:

“I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt so that you would no longer be slaves to the Egyptians; I broke the bars of your yoke and enabled you to walk with heads held high.”

What a great illustration of what God is doing in our lives TODAY. Maybe your response looks like mine: “Yes God! YOU walk with me daily. Through the power of Your Holy Spirit and by the grace and mercy shown me through Jesus Christ, I am no longer a slave to sin or any part of my past. Because YOU have broken the chains of my bondage, I am new…transformed before You.”

I encourage you to be fully free in Jesus Christ. And if you have a personal relationship with Christ but you’re hanging onto some stuff, I encourage you to take the baggage of your past hurts, disappointments, stress, lack of confidence, negative feelings, and root causes of your addictions and hand it all over to God. You can stand tall with your head held high (Lev. 26:13), knowing “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2).

Let me know how I can help you on your journey of being continually transformed. We’re in this together!

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unraveling = freedom

[cross-posted to www.stepforwardtoday.com]

The song starts, “You unravel me with a melody…”

While singing those words during worship last month, the word “unraveled” stuck with me. Various images came to my mind like when a hanging thread gets pulled and an entire seam comes apart, or when soft threads start to separate and create a hole in a favorite sweater. But we sang, “YOU unravel me” — YOU, God, unravel me. My trusty Google search produced this definition:

Isn’t that interesting? Let’s look at the first part of the definition: “undo” or “untangle.” The idea of unraveling is much more acceptable when we’re talking about fabric. We, as people, usually try to appear “put together” – not “undone” or coming apart in any form. But something beautiful happens in the purposeful unraveling of ourselves: like threads separating, unraveling creates space.

Loosening up the threads of our lives like our tightly wound personas, our impossibly busy schedules, our death grip on the things and people that are important to us, and our sin entanglements provides space for us to breathe…reflect…become free…and trust in God and experience Him more fully.

The second part of the definition reads “investigate, solve, explain, unscramble.” The action of unraveling ourselves and walking more purposefully with God draws us closer to Him. As we dive in deeper, He draws us closer and we achieve a greater understanding of His mystery, love, power and holiness.

So, how do we become unraveled? What does that look like? Here are a few ideas to get started:

  • Examine your schedule. Is every activity necessary? Why? What can you delete?
  • Examine your lifestyle. What is important to you? Who are you trying to impress? Why?
  • Examine your secrets. Are you willing to give them up? God already knows about the hidden sin areas of your life and loves you outrageously. Talk to God and reach out to a pastor for help.
  • What other areas can you look at?

Unraveling = freedom. Like threads separating, we too can create space in our lives to more fully experience God and share the outrageous love of Jesus with everyone around us.

Unravel with me!