Living With God in the Camp

Posted: February 23, 2014 in Spiritual Journey

Many times we find ourselves reflecting on the past. We look back with the glow of the difficulties and the stresses that our current situation has shone before us and think back to a time when things weren’t quite so difficult. Life seemed so much easier. It is perfectly normal, and actually quite healthy to take some time now and then to reflect back on our history to gain a clear perspective of God’s faithfulness and goodness; to see how God provided a way to work something out. Yet, when it can become unhealthy is when we dwell there too long. When we begin to stay there and become complacent about the present is where we can become tragically disillusioned. God wants us to remember our past. But, He doesn’t want us to abide there. We are to learn and grow from our past. He desires for us to use what we learned (both victories and failures) to address our present.

 

We notice a similar pattern with the Israelites as they proceeded to wander around the wilderness. One day they were faithfully obedient to Moses and to the Lord. The next day they were grumbling and complaining about this or that and longing for the Good ole days in Egypt. Before you jump in and denounce the immature fickleness of these people, take a real quick look at yourself (me, too!). How often do we in a particularly difficult situation find ourselves resorting to daydreaming about days in the past that seemed so carefree? Again, God desires for us to reflect on the past. Yet, we need to maintain perspective. Our purpose of doing this is to recall to mind the faithfulness of the Lord and how we can transition this faithfulness from the past to the current situation we are now faced with.

Thoughts for your walk:

 

  1. Have you ever daydreamed about how amazing it would be if you could enjoy the privilege of having God’s presence now? How would that affect your relationship with Him? How did it affect the Israelites? How does God’s very real presence in your life affect how you are living right now?
  2. Meditating upon the Old Testament, what was it about God’s presence that struck fear into the people who were exposed to it?

What does it mean to be righteous or holy? How does God grant us access to His presence even though we are sinful?

How Fear Brings Comfort

Posted: February 18, 2014 in Spiritual Journey

Often we may be afraid of confessing our sins to God because we are ashamed. We are ashamed that God may cast us aside if He really knew who we were and what we were capable of.  Yet, we need to realize that even if we didn’t tell Him what we did, He knows anyway. In fact, He knew before we committed the sin. He knew the act before it was even conceived in our hearts. And, I really understand how our logic runs. Think about it in our daily lives. We do something that we are really ashamed of. Is the first thought that comes to mind to tell everyone we know what we just did? Of course not. But, we need to realize that God isn’t like our friends or family who may make fun of us or disown us. In fact, the real reason for us going to God in the first place to confess our sins isn’t to make Him aware of them. Rather, it’s to remind us of a few things. First of all, prayer is to remind us of our powerlessness. It reminds us that we are totally and completely dependent upon God and His strength and empowerment. On our own, we cannot hope to grasp what to know or do and comprehend what this particular thing before us has anything to do with accomplishing the will of God. Which leads us to another thing. Prayer directs and re-directs us to align our will with God’s will. Too often we become side-tracked and self-focused. Prayer reminds us to seek the heart of God so that we may get back on track.

 

So, we have no reason to be ashamed to go our heavenly Father to confess our sins because He already knows all of the details anyway. We should indeed feel ashamed, but not for the reasons we normally would. We normally feel ashamed because of our pride. We don’t want others to know because they may think less of us than we want them to think. Rather, we should feel shame for our sins because of the damage it does to our testimony to God. We are the visible Church. When we do or say or think something, we demonstrate to a watching world, whether accurate or not, that this is what Christians adhere to. We are ambassadors, representing Him in a lost and dying world (2 Corinthians 5:20). Therefore, when we sin, we should feel the shame that we have somehow broken the heart of God.

 

Thoughts for your walk:

  1. Considering everything that you personally know about God, how can the fact that He knows all there is to know about you bring you a sense of peace and comfort?
  2. Have you ever been anxious or fearful about the future? Reflect upon all that God is regarding His omniscience. How can that help to relieve that anxiety?
  3. God knows all about each and every one of our sins. It is absolutely futile to attempt to hide from His presence. Considering just how He deals with us, how is His grace and mercy still demonstrated? How has He demonstrated this in your own life?
  4. Too often we have an overstated value of ourselves. We give ourselves way too much credit. What means does God use to bring you back to reality?

Enjoying Our New Life in Christ

Posted: January 26, 2014 in Book Reviews

“Life in Christ”

By Jeremy Walker

A Review

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When we are physically ill, there are a multitude of measures that we can take in order to assess what is causing us to feel the way we do. One of the basic things we can do is to take our temperature. When our bodies are losing a battle to some microscopic invader, our body temperature rises. When we are blessed with health, it can become rather easy to forget what it feels like to be sick. We take our health for granted so often. Yet, when we become ill, it gives us a chance to become reflective and thankful for the times we are free from those invaders that make us feel sick.

How similar this is in our spiritual walk as well. In his book, “Life In Christ,” Jeremy Walker reminds believers who they are in Christ. Yet, it isn’t so simple as all of that. We can simply agree with who we are in Christ, yet, at the same time, it doesn’t seem to make much difference in how we live, or in our overall attitude. We can become rather cynical, discouraged, and depressed as we trudge along in our lives. It may even get to the point where our lives parallel the lives of unbelievers. How can that be?

Honestly, as I read this book, it grabbed me and convicted me. Walker rightly attacks the complacency that I can have in my walk with my Savior. So often, I become so familiar with who Christ is and we become so comfortable, we no longer long for anything more. Yet, Scripture teaches us that the riches of Christ are “insurmountable.” We should never be content with where we are because the mine of God’s wealth and treasure is incredibly fortified with treasure beyond our comprehension! Yet, we are comfortable with the grace that we have experienced. We smugly feel entitled to it like we deserve it.

Walker reminds us that a richer life in Christ goes well beyond this. This superficial dating of Christ is not what is clearly expounded to us from Scripture. We should love God and love His Truth from His Word. Often, when exploring a beautiful trail in the wilderness we are awestruck at the tremendous beauty that God has created. This is, of course true. Yet, when we encounter the truths revealed in His Word, do we experience an even greater sense of awe that the God of this universe and the beauty therein, has freely and gladly revealed that Truth to such a sinner as you and me? That is what our life in Christ should be like. A genuine, authentic love that was initiated by God to penetrate our inner-most being to assure us of our need for Him and our ultimate destiny of eternity with Him and to make the most of every opportunity on this earth to wisely use all of our gifts, skills, and talents to further advance His Gospel to a lost and dying world that is easily swayed to chase fervently after all the traps and snares this world offers.

What a great reminder of the life that we can now experience as we walk with Christ experiencing all of the rich treasures He has so abundantly supplied for us to enjoy and to look forward to when we meet Him in Eternity…

Give a listen to Jeremy as he talks about the book here:

http://www.janetmefferdpremium.com/2014/01/16/janet-mefferd-radio-show-20140116-hr-3/

http://confessingbaptist.com/podcast038/

I would like to extend my gratitude to Cross-Focused Media for the free copy of the book for me to offer this unbiased, balanced review as well as Reformation Heritage Books.

Have you ever thought that you kept a secret with someone only to find out that they didn’t exactly keep their word? How did you feel? Betrayed? Embarrassed? Angry? All three? What was it about the topic of the secret that you didn’t want anyone else to know about? Have you really thought about the fact that we can’t really keep any secrets with God? He knows everything about us, even the very thoughts and motivations behind the things that we do.

As you take a spiritual inventory, don’t allow that to alarm you. Even though for the very slightest of those sins that may come to the surface, if you have a relationship with Christ, you can rest assured that He has forgiven those sins and that He desires a rich relationship with you. Yet, at the same time, He loves you too much to allow you to continue in your sins. He wants something much better for you.

Thoughts for your walk:

  1. Meditate upon all of that which causes you to fear as it pertains to the fact that God knows all things.
  2. What if your best friend knew everything about you? Do you think he or she would still be your best friend? Consider that as you meditate upon these truths this week. God does know all of our actions, words, and attitudesàeven those we do not outwardly express. Yet, He still loves us and desires an even more intimate relationship with Him. Take some time right now to praise Him for that.

Do you ever forget anything? Keys? A phone number? Someone’s name? Think about this. God does not forget anything, except those sins which we ask His forgiveness for, which He promises to banish as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).

Why God?

Posted: October 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

We have probably asked this question once or twice in our lives. Yet, something came over me this evening as I was working on reading and grading some discussion threads from some of my students? That is, from what perspective are we asking that question? Is it, “God, why are you doing this to me?” Or, “God, why are you doing this for me?” Huge difference as it pertains to our attitudes and perspective. If we are always caught up thinking that always owes us something, then we will be of the mindset that God is doing something to us that is not fair and certainly not deserved. Yet, on the other hand, if we see each day and circumstance (even though difficult) as a continued extension of His abundant grace that I do not deserve, my heart will continue to overflow with gratitude and praise. I didn't deserve grace. I earned condemnation. Each moment I sin and I continue to breathe, my mouth should explode in abundant worship testifying of His abundant mercy and grace.

 

 

College professor trials Twitter in classroom, sees increased student engagement and improved grades. Social media benefits students, improve learning outcomes.

via Do Social Media Benefit College Students by Engaging Them in the Course Material?.

Experiencing Joy in All Things

Posted: September 1, 2013 in Spiritual Journey

discouragement

How can I feel joyful when my life feels so upside-down? Sometimes it can become so easy to resign to a life of chronic discouragement with no real hope of feeling better. We become numb to our true feelings. Perhaps we even become experts at our facades of joy when our hearts are fragmented.

So, how can we lift the fog? Certainly, God does not want us to continue in this pit; at least not forever. First of all, we need to recognize, as with all things, God does have a purpose for why we are experiencing this. Take the time now to do some deep soul searching to be sensitive as to what things God may be bringing to the surface of your life right now and what He may be wanting you to do about it. Secondly, repent of any known sins that you know of and those He brings to mind right now. Cleansing of the soul will erode any boundaries that exist between you and God. Sin keeps us from experiencing deep, robust fellowship with God. It may be a reason as to why God has detoured you into this fog. He desires to get your attention. Thirdly, act upon what The Lord is revealing to you during this time. It isn’t enough to merely know what you are supposed to do. God expects obedience. Finally, relax and enjoy your position that you have in Christ. Even this time in your life is a testimony of the Lord’s care for you. If He did not care, He would just let you go on your merry way. Instead, He desires a richer, closer relationship with. What an incredible God we serve!

Droughts?

Posted: July 24, 2013 in Spiritual Journey

Drought? Challenges? Discouragements? Failures? Ever think they are wasted? Why does God allow them to enter our lives? Couldn’t we be more effective for Him if we could just do what we wanted & our plans would work out just right? Well, maybe. But more than likely not. Why? More than likely, our grand plans for turning the world up side down is bathed more in self-glory than humbly attempting to glorify The Lord. God has challenged me personally in a series of spiritual droughts to really bring me to a crossroads. Do I really believe God for who He is, or do I have a presupposed idea of Him and when that doesn’t correlate with my presuppositions, I question His intentions. Why does He need to do it that way? My way seems so much better and more efficient. God challenges us in so many creative ways. It is easy to lose sight of His ever-lasting grace and love through the most difficult times. Yet, He is always there. I am still learning that and growing through that. It is so comforting to me that especially through the droughts I experience, He is still challenging me to grow even closer to Him.

Understanding Theology in 15 Minutes a Day

By Daryl Aaron

A Review

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How do we know God? I mean how do we really know God? Most of us, if we are perfectly honest with ourselves don’t spend near as much time with God as we think we should. We may quietly reflect upon what a meaningful amount of time in His Word each day should look like. Perhaps how much time we need to spend in prayer. Yet, it seems as though the busyness of our lives serves as a never-ending boundary, which keeps us from achieving this goal. Why is that? Well, I am sure there are a number of reasons. Yet, the fact remains that God still wants us to know Him. How? We know Him by developing a meaningful relationship with Him. How? Mainly just as simple as developing a relationship with our fellow humans; open communication and taking the time to getting to know the true character of God by knowing and understanding what pleases Him and obeying Him. How? (You sure ask a lot of questions, don’t you?). Simply by taking the time each day to study and reflect up His Word to know who He is; His character, His attributes.

Which also brings me to Daryl Aaron’s delightful volume, “Understanding Theology in 15 Minutes a Day.” Don’t be put off by the title. I was very pleased in my reading of this book. As I did so, I found at least two very useful purposes for this work. First of all, I can see it being put to use by those who either would like a refresher of their theology. Those who have read the tomes of rich theology and would like a refresher. Also, for those who have not had the chance to read these rich treasures, but would like to benefit from the fruits of those labors, this is the book for you. Secondly, this volume could also serve as a robust resource for a devotional study to supplement a time in God’s Word each day. This book includes a brief introduction of several significant doctrines. I hesitate even to title it “introduction,” because Aaron does such a marvelous job of describing these rich doctrines so concisely and clearly that you walk away with a rich understanding of the doctrine without feeling like your head is about to explode. He doesn’t waste words and gets straight to the point, which is what I really appreciate about Aaron. On the other hand, even though he briefly describes these doctrines doesn’t mean that you walk away with a children’s rendition of theology.

No, whether you are just beginning to take the step of entering into the rich realm of theology, or if you are a veteran, I am certain that you will appreciate this small volume as I did, and that you will find a valuable resource for your devotional life or for your initial journey into getting to know God better by studying more deeply who He is and how He operates. Happy reading!

I would like to extend my gratitude to Bethany House Publishers for the free copy of the book for me to offer this unbiased, balanced review.

Aside  —  Posted: May 7, 2013 in Book Reviews

World’s Apart

Posted: March 16, 2013 in Book Reviews

The Connecting Church 2.0

A Review

Randy Frazee

 9780310494355

Community” has been a buzzword in churches for quite some time. What hasn’t really been agreed upon is exactly what “community” means. Many of us probably have a more nostalgic perception when it comes to community. Maybe we sort of develop a mental image of June Cleaver leaning over the white picket fence taking a break from hanging the family clothes on the line on a breezy summer day to chat and catch up with the neighbor.

In effect, “community” has become complicated. We, in our fallen, human nature, have attempted to develop endless strategies to achieve a goal by incorporating the wrong plans. We have strived for this by running full tilt in the exact wrong direction. We have been “trying” and “plotting” and “scheming.” And, it all comes up radically short. We become frustrated and disillusioned. Why? Because, as Frazee demonstrates for us, it was never meant to be some sort of a Mount Kilimanjaro to be conquered. Community is much more about the community than it is about us.

Frazee contends that for the most part, community, in the modern sense of the word has undergone an identity crisis. It has morphed into a place where people’s insecurity and sin can go and hide and receive enablement without being challenged. It is a safe place to go and receive fuel for your codependency. There is no fear of legitimate rebuke. That is starkly contrasted with the biblical sense of community where Paul took it as his personal responsibility to admonish the apostle Peter when he was clearly behaving improperly (Gal. 2:11-14). Community is to instead be a place where we need one another; where we depend upon one another; where we genuinely care and love one another. It should be a place were we each feel comfortable in our own skin.

Today’s independent, consumerist mentality has all but destroyed community according to Frazee. We have a sense that we don’t really need each other. And when that happens, we fail to communicate to each other. And when that occurs, we built up impenetrable walls, which separate us and isolate us from our neighbors.

While not everyone will necessarily agree with Frazee about how possible it is to develop community in our day by reversing the trajectory of a decades long mass exodus to the suburbs from the urban areas, but one thing is certain, he makes you really think and re-think your motivations and attitudes. And, that to me is worthwhile. Even if it really isn’t possible to latch on to every point that he makes in how to develop authentic community, that doesn’t necessarily mean that we cannot attempt many of the helpful insights that he offers to help us develop better fellowship amongst one another and help us grow closer to Christ together.

I would like to extend my gratitude to Cross-Focused Media for the free copy of the book for me to offer this unbiased, balanced review as well as Zondervan Publishing.