Better Hurry Up…!

I love print cartoon images. I still look for them each weekend in our local paper. We have some of the greats like “Peanuts” by Schultz and Larson has done “The Far Side.” There are hundreds of classics that have survived the changes of life and impacted countless generations of readers – myself included.

Throughout their existence, print cartoons – even political humored one – always seem connect with a very real issue.

One of my favorites has always been, and will always be, “Calvin & Hobbes” by Will Watterson. His humor included politics, family life and satire in these two specific characters, following the humorous antics of Calvin, a precocious, mischievous, and adventurous six-year-old boy, and Hobbes, his stuffed tiger. At one point, it is said, that this comic strip was in over 2,400 newspapers weekly. I am one of the millions of people who own some of the books that have collections of this comic in them. Calvin was said to be named after pastor John Calvin and Hobbes was named after the 17th century philosopher, Thomas Hobbes.

Hobbes was just a stuffed animal. But to Calvin, he was very real. Perhaps that ‘little guy’ inside of me still resonates with that view on life and all of the issues that were examined through this lens.

Many of the issues that Calvin and Hobbes faced, are issues we have faced as well. Whether that be in our past, or even in our current reality.

FuturePostImage

Within each of us is a competing nature: adventure and risk vs. logic and reality. Some of us go through life so unbalanced that we find ourselves up a ladder and even with a friend/spectator cheering us on – completely disconnected from the truth. We may even have someone in the distance speaking objective truth to us…but we are razor focused on what we think or perceive to be the best decision possible. And, we hurry up and jump!

Scripture, in Romans 8, it starts off with a powerful truth: So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.” And yet, far too many of us find ourselves up a ladder, ready to ignore all the realities around us, and and we go out and make choices that keep us from walking in the power of the life-giving Spirit of God.

Many seemed doomed to repeat past mistakes. Bad habits drive us and making a poor choice is often fueled by not only what is easiest in the moment, but also fear. Fear of failure. Fear of pleasing others. Fear of being found out. Verse 15 of Romans 8 says: “So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children.” The battle that can rage within us to climb the ladder and jump into danger before we actually stop and listen to what God the Father is saying for us to do, is very real.

So what can you do? Romans 7:21 and following says: I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.  I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.  Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.”

First, we must stop and listen. And in doing this, we need to know who we are listening to. At some point, Calvin is only tuned into Hobbes. And well Hobbes, his only wise statement is ‘hurry’ because the true voice of authority in life (a six year old boys parent) is saying ‘something’ and we can probably all guess what it was. STOP.

We have to stop listening to the wrong influences in our lives. All the self-help gurus in the world cannot compare to the answer we should all first seek: Jesus Christ our Lord. The heart of God has been perfectly revealed in His Holy Word. If the ladder we are climbing is leading us to something that contracts Jesus as the answer and away from His revealed promises within Scripture, then you must STOP. Ephesians 4:22-24 says: “To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

In a message called “Put on the New Person” by Pastor John Piper, he teaches that “that THE KEY QUESTION for how to live the Christian life [is]: How do you think in such a way that God will be the creator of your thoughts? How do you feel in such a way that God will be the creator of your feelings? How do you act in such a way that God will be the creator of your actions? How do you put on a new person created by God?”

We can’t be a ‘hurry up’ people any longer. Rather, we need to be a people, so consumed with the goodness of God the Father, and so devoted to His Lordship in our lives, that we don’t move ahead of His sovereign working in us, and around us, and that we passionately wait on Him to reveal His ways by stoping, and asking the Holy Spirit of God what is truly controlling our motives in that moment.

You were made for this. To live this way. God’s way. Not in a ‘hurry up’ and do it myself kind of living. That is not walking in the power of life-giving Spirit of God. It might be in rhythm with man’s best. Or the world standards of success. But it is actually out of step with God. Ephesians 4, verse 10, says that “we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us…”

I’d rather know God, know His voice and climb the ladder with God – the ladder He purposed for me to climb – any day – then to keep climbing up my own-made ladders and doing life my own way. My best is often less fulfilling. Less joy-filled. It lacks. God’s best for me has always been more than I could ever imagine and provides for me in ways I didn’t even know I needed, until I exactly needed it.

So stop climbing those ladders you’ve placed in your life. Stop listening to things that oppose God’s Holy standards for Christlike living and start passionately waiting on His voice and resting in His promises for your life. As you wait, God is developing your character and you are able to grow spiritually in ways that meet current needs but also prepare you for future realities.

Another tool you will need: others – but, the right others. Ecclesiastes 4, verses 9 through 12 say: Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. You need to have the right people around you, and perhaps, below you on the ladder, that will counsel you correctly. Not someone who is just as blind to the truth, to the issues, as you are sometimes. Not those who only take from you – emotionally and such – but rather, those who are invested in a real relationship with you and who you know are personally connected to and walking in faithful obedience to God the Father. People you see alive in Christ and not just those who will tell you what you want to hear.

Everyone of us, as Disciples of Christ, should seek to live a life that glorifies God, and to live a life worth following – as we follow Christ. And, each of us should have true friendships with others who have purposed to live in the same way.

Stop listening to the wrong noises in this life. Be connected personally to God and His Word. Let God, be God, in your life. Let the Holy Word of God define truth and goodness. And, be connected with others in a healthy way that fulfills your pursuit of loving God, glorifying Him and making much of Him in your life each day.

The Sadness of Silence

The third Monday in the month of January is considered by many as BLUE MONDAY: THE MOST DEPRESSING DAY OF THE YEAR. The good news is, if you are reading this, then you made it through this day. It hasn’t always been known as this, so perhaps it has come to be known as this because all the holiday festivities are over. Perhaps you started a new year with lots of goals and dreams and by now, reality has set in. Or, perhaps we are all ready for Spring and tired of the gloom and cold of winter at this point. Because depression is real and grips many, then noting a day like this is important, and addressing depression isn’t something to be silent about.  

Another significant day, or anniversary, worth noting happened this last week on January 22. Shawn Carney wrote: “46 years ago today, seven men who call themselves “supreme” silenced the voice of the American people, initiating the greatest human rights atrocity in U.S. history. The Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision dehumanized the unborn and led to 60 million children being killed by abortion since 1973. Despite 46 years of legalization, abortion is ending at the grassroots level. Not because of robed, ivory tower Supreme Court justices, but because families are living their pro-life convictions in communities across the country.”

This brings us to today. The issue of abortion can anger and shame and pain anyone bold enough to discuss this epidemic. I have been told, more than once, that because I am a man, that I have zero right to even talk about abortion – let alone encourage people to pursue God’s heart for the value of human life. However, that is exactly what feeds any sadness within my heart and mind this time of year: the sheer volume of silence from many regarding abortion.

Perhaps like me, they have been shamed about holding to Biblical truth regarding the sanctity of life. Perhaps for others, the issues of abortion is so raw and real in their lives personally that they look forward to a day when it is no longer present in their minds.

Despite the past silence of God’s Holy Bride and those who shepherd it, I am seeing a great change happening with the way others think about the value of human life. I see it regarding immigrants and refugees. I see it regarding racial oppression and the marginalized of society. And, I am seeing a change in many, as they seek to bring their lives under the authority of God’s Holy Word regarding abortion, too.

Yet, some still say that a little baby isn’t as valuable as an adult or someone who’s already born. The Bible says that each person has tremendous value. In fact, the Bible says that we are GOD’S MASTERPIECE. Ephesians 2:10 says: “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” A masterpiece is a prized possession, the best of the best, and the Bible says: YOU ARE GOD’S MASTERPIECE. So, although not everyone understands how valuable a life is, I believe that God is changing this among His church and I believe that as Disciples of Christ, we should be champions for His redemptive work within the pro abundant life movement as well. 

It can change when we find ourselves looking at all the differences in the world around us, and when we stop believing the lies of Satan and begin to embrace the truth that pre-born baby has value worth protecting – just like the value of the life of the immigrant and refugee, and to those experiencing racial inequality and injustice.

I urge you friends: investigate how science agrees with Scripture about the value of a pre-born baby.

The moment a baby is conceived, their features, their gender, and their hair and eye color are determined at the conception. Just three weeks after that – so just a little longer than the Christmas break you were on – in just three weeks, a baby in its mother’s tummy, their brain and spinal cord begin forming and their heart begins to beat in 22 days. Within 6-7 weeks, arms and legs and organs like the kidneys begin to form. By 7-1/2 weeks a baby in a mother’s tummy has distinct fingers and can even hiccup. By 8 weeks nearly all the organs in the body have formed, and just need to mature and fully grow. At this age, the baby is very active and can been seen during an ultrasound – one of the services we provide at Life Choices for free – they can be seen waving their arms and kicking. And just 10 weeks after a baby is conceived, the baby begins to form their fingerprints.

Take a moment and look at the palm of your hands. See those finger prints? Each one is different. Each one is special and the fingerprints you have right now started to form when you were a tiny baby in your mother’s belly. 

The Bible and science agree. You are a masterpiece. You are special and unique and you have great value. Embrace that truth. Also, embrace an attitude of love towards others and point to living alternatives. Many groups are standing for life and work hard every day to bring great grace and respect to those who are considering abortion or who have had an abortion. Connect those wresting with this choice to those type of living alternatives and support those places.  Stand for truth. Speak this truth in love. Depend on the Holy Spirit for conviction. Let your convictions be rooted in Scripture and live out this truth. Reflecting God’s heart and His truth is what we can do to bring change as we live out His message of life and redemption.

We cannot stay silent. We must, in great grace and truth, speak to the holiness and the sanctity of human life. Simply posting an image on social media is not enough. We must learn the Biblical foundation for the holiness of life and live by God’s truth. We must also understand how science teaches us, that from the moment of conception, we already have the very things that make us human and unique.

Rescue those who are unjustly sentenced to die; save them as they stagger to their death.  Don’t excuse yourself by saying, ‘Look, we didn’t know.’ For God understands all hearts, and he sees you. He who guards your soul knows you knew. He will repay all people as their actions deserve.” Proverbs 24:11-12

(Adapted. Original article published in the Nevada Appeal, Faith and Insight Article – January 26, 2019)

Fulfillment Requires Obedience

True and lasting fulfillment requires obedience. True obedience to the Lord is fulfilling. God’s perfect love has provided the pathway to real obedience.

For many, however, the conviction to obey is saturated with a concept of negativity. Why do I say this? Well, far too often when one thinks about obedience, it normally brings about a feeling of completing a task, apart from the actual desire or longing to do it. Meaning, we associate obedience with obligation, rather than what it was intended for: fulfillment. When Jesus walked among us, He demonstrated fulfilling obedience. He carried out what many would see as a very different lifestyle of obedience. The life Jesus lived demonstrated what obedience to our Heavenly Father should look like in each of our lives today.

Obedience to the Lord is about making the choice, it is about purposing to live each day, (a lifestyle) to live a lifestyle of Biblical love and devotion to God, the same God who has fully and completely loved us with an enduring and extravagant, perfect love.

In the Gospel of John, chapter 15, Jesus said: “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” (vss. 9 & 10) So why then is it so easy for us to miss the heart, the intent of God, when He calls us to pursue true fulfillment through obedience? Jesus demonstrates in John 15 that He purposed to live in such a way that it reflected, and it reciprocated the love He was shown by the Father. He lived His life in obedience to the Lord out of the depth and wealth of relationship He had – never out of simple duty or obligation. Jesus asks: will those who follow me now, do the same?

Another Biblical example we have regarding fulfilling obedience is in the Gospel of Luke, where Jesus states the greatest commandment in Luke 10:27“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” The heart of God for us incredible, as He does not call us to a lifestyle of obligation, or even undesired sacrifice – rather, He calls us to a way of living each day that enables us to fully reflect and reciprocate the abundance of love that has be demonstrated in Christ and poured out for all the the world. The Lord does not merely set rules before us, rather He has made a relationship with Him the goal. He is after your heart – which comes in total and complete surrender to Him.

Our culture is often marked by its self-seeking, self-satisfying agenda – but, the Lord in His strength and power and wisdom, has set us free from this, enabling us to step outside of the burden of living for ourselves. We have been freed to live for others, by reflecting and reciprocating the perfect love of God when we live out a life of fulfilled obedience to the Lord. Our current way of living is often marked with the weight of pride, but God provides a way of freedom. The Father pours our His unceasing, selfless love which has the power to transform us into His beloved who can abide in the Lord and reflect His heart of truth, love and obedience.

If we purpose to truly obey the Lord, to abide in God’s commandments and to love wholeheartedly, we will experience true satisfaction that is unknown to those around us that are filled with the pursuits of our culture regarding selfishness and pride. We can and we will experience the abundant life promised to us by God if we abide in Him alone, if our identity rests in Him, in what He has revealed in His Holy Word, and when the Lord is our source of approval, and the source of a fulfilled life. 

May we abide in the commands of the Lord, choosing to live a lifestyle of wholehearted love for Him and of others. May we choose to live in obedience to Him, in response to His profound love for us. And as we do, may we discover the power, the purpose, and the radical freedom that comes from serving others with the very love that has been demonstrated through Jesus Christ for us, and them. May we experience fulfillment when we truly obey that which God has commanded His beloved to do.

tragedy

Americans started off this past week with horrific news. Dozens upon dozens of people are dead and hundreds more are injured after a gunman opened fired at a Las Vegas music festival. This is being called the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history. It is senseless. This attack hit close to home for Carson City residents remembering our own local tragedy that hit our city on September 6, 2011 when a gunman opened fired at IHOP killing four people. This is not the first time (or last time) our community has felt the sting of death and the pain of searing loss.

Our hearts break far too often because of the senseless rage of a lone gunman or because of the seemingly endless assault of terror, death and tragedy that plays out in lives, our community and in the world. Perhaps you have thought or prayed about living in a world in which friends could go to the movie theater, where athletes could run marathons, where our kids could go to the park or school, where people could attend concerts and where one could go to places like nightclubs and or even churches without the fear of violence.

The reality is that have to deal with events like natural disasters, such as earthquakes and hurricanes, and although those are devastating in their own right, it is the unexplainable and senseless acts of evil that is poured out on others that bring about a deep level of grief and pain. And often in those experiences, we are left asking: “Why?”

How do we as Christ followers respond to the senseless tragedy within our own lives? How do we answer the “why” question, or even more difficult yet, what do we say when the world asks us, “Why did God allow this to happen…?” Perhaps, there is no single response that can adequately address the complexity or these questions. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, nor is there any election result that can fix this once and for all. But, in the midst of the pain and confusion our God is big enough, great enough, powerful enough, and merciful enough to handle every single “Why?” In His divine nature and His role as Creator and Sustainer, He can and will reveal to those searching how He was and is present with us during the most painful, tragic, and senseless seasons in our lives.

God’s Word is very clear on how His people should respond when tragedy hits. Romans 12:15 says: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” Jesus taught that: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). Psalm 42 is a beautiful prayer that encourages us as we read it, to rest in the Lord for His hope and wisdom during the toughest experiences in life. Psalm 34:18 declares that “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” If you have ever been through a tragic event or experienced the death of a loved one, then you know that often that time of difficulty can be but a blur. Days may seem endless, sleep is fleeting, and the tears rise like flood waters. Yet, if you are blessed enough to be surrounded by a strong support system, this network is somehow getting you from place to place, it is present, and it is sustaining in the midst of the blur. The Lord is like that for us spiritually, but in a much deeper and much more profound way. In our time of need He will take care of us in ways we cannot fully explain or always comprehend. He is there and He is at work – just like the wind we may not be able to see it, but we can sure see its affects!

So how do we as Christ followers respond to the senseless tragedy? The church, our leaders and pastors, the neighbor, parent or student – we must respond, but how? We simply do. We do not stay silent and we do not stay at a distance. We go and be the church, the kind of church that Jesus had in mind all along. We should not stay silent and we should not sit back doing nothing. We pray. We stay humble. We serve. We laugh with and cry with those around us. We confess and repent of any wrong. We cling to Jesus and the Holy Word of God, and nothing else. We forgive, and love, and hope, and trust. We turn to the Lord for the strength we fear we might not have, for He has it. And, we point people back to the hope of knowing Jesus personally and the joy that is found in eternal security in Him.

We actually do have the things that can change this world: the hope of Jesus Christ and His ever present comfort to those in need. What you do in response to senseless tragedy matters more than ever. We are meant to be the conduit of God’s mercy and grace to a hurting and broken world. So, let us go and be the church, the church that boldly declares: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, Because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners.” (Isaiah 61:1)

Lord, as we have learned to do in all our experiences, we come to You now. We know that You love us, and that You can turn even the shadow of death into the light of morning. Help us now to wait before You for healing and hope as we grieve and mourn. Make this a time of opening our eyes and our understanding of Your comfort and of your love. I pray that you would bless those who feel this sorrow most deeply, and unify Your Bride, Your church, so that we may share with our friends and family our spiritual strength and faith in You which is ours through the love of Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.

(Adapted: Originally written for the “Nevada Appeal” which appeared on Oct. 7, 2017)

More

“Can I have more? Please daddy?!” These words came from my middle child, and they surprised me. She had already had two serving at dinner and she wanted more. The kid doesn’t even weigh 30 pounds herself and she had almost eaten her weight in food!

Okay, she didn’t eat that much but she consistently wanted more food! She knew who to ask and she kept asking! Her plea for “more” made me think about my own relationship with the Lord.

Psalm 42:2 says: “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; When shall I come and appear before God?”

Seeking more of God can mean many different things – the statement itself may even seem too vague. For me, seeking more of the Lord means to purposefully and daily connect with God in my prayer time, my time in the Word, practicing other spiritual disciples like meditation or solitude, staying focused during times of musical worship and participating in quality small groups or Bible studies.

What does seeking more of the Lord look like in your life?

And, what are you going to do in order to seek more from God?

It has to begin with child-like faith. The kind of faith that truly believes and fully trusts. Then, you are in a fully surrendered position to seek more. God wants to develop our faith in Him and He desires that we become His disciples – fully surrendered and fully devoted to Him.

Seeking more of the Lord, it happens when we have child-like faith that positions us in a place of trust and growth, but it also happens when we follow that up with with a longing, a hunger, a thirst for more of God that leaves us crying out for more!

Psalm 42:2 spoke of position and longing. It’s a great reminder of two basic elements we must have in our daily pursuit of God. Daily we must strive to grow closer to God. This means growing in His grace and in His Word, in His truth for our lives. We have to place ourselves in a constant place before the Father where we can ask and seek out a deeper relationship with the Lord! Some of us are starving and cheating ourselves out of a full meal on God. We’ve bought into the spiritual diet plans offered by others, things that will never truly satisfy.

Because of this choice that we’ve made for ourselves, we feel like we won’t be able to do anything to seek more of God. That is a lie. There is room at the table for you. God has provided a way for you to encounter Him and to daily grow in His grace and truth for your life. You have to make a choice. Will you choose to thirst for the living God, the creator of life and the savior of your soul? He longs for you to make this choice and to live in daily surrender to Him, seeking His presence, His healing, His love, and His truth!

Position yourself to encounter God. Choose this above all else. Pray. Serve. Get into the Word. Look for ways to display more of Gods power and grace in your life. Connect with others who are committed to growing spiritually. Do let yourself be distracted from making this the greatest pursuit of your life. Your future and legacy depend on the choice you make today.

faith & easter

How would you define faith? Now, how would you define Easter?

For me, both words are connected to my relationship with the Lord. Yet I recognize that people can have faith in many things, even in people and still not define the word “faith” from a spiritual standpoint like I would. The same is true for Easter. Even though most churches see more people on Easter Sunday than any other time of year – there is large cluster of people who would define Easter in terms like: Easter Bunny, Easter Egg, Easter Egg Hunt, Easter Basket, Easter Dinner, etc. – things that don’t even imply the Christian celebration of Easter, the remembrance of Christ resurrection and victory over sin and death.

Now for some that may not seem like a big distinction. And perhaps for others their definition of Easter would contain elements for both. People may debate the correctness of that – I won’t, probably ever. My kids will probably know both perspectives of Easter – the Easter bunny and the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Yet just like my definition of “faith” and “easter” tend to center on my relationship with Christ, so should the way I live out my faith and the hope I have because of that first Easter.

I have encounter many people who struggle with believing God, with having a saving faith in Him. They have their lists. And those list are long. And the validity of their lists are scary. And I have encountered people who struggle with Easter. They struggle with all the ways the Easter story of Jesus Christ blows holes in their common logic or personal experiences. Both the lists of “why I am not a Christian” and the statements regarding the resurrection of Jesus being illogical, etc. are for many, very valid.

Yet tolerance can be a scary thing, can’t it? Tolerance keeps us from action. And with issues regarding our faith in God and with the true meaning of Easter, tolerance, in my opinion, cannot be afforded. Yet we often allow tolerance to creep into our relationship with God. And tolerance begins to destroy our faith. Some of you reading right now, may be shaking your heads in disagreement with this idea. Yet if you’re pro-tolerance, then why can you shake your head at what I am saying now? Doesn’t that speak against the very spirit of tolerance?

Faith has to be defined in a very specific way, not just tolerated or even put into our schedule or calendar. We have come to tolerate too many definitions of a saving faith in God. We have allowed to many others things to define faith and use the word faith as their describer – and the same is very true with Easter.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ changes everything. All of history pointed to a Messiah that would come and save us all from sin. And all of history has pointed back to that moment when Jesus conquered sin and death. Faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ changes everything for us as followers of the Lord. Every aspect of our lives, every day, should reflect the promise and power of the resurrection.

This Easter I have been reminded how to define faith and how to live in the promise and the power of the resurrection. We make believing in God and in the story of the resurrection so very complicated. Many have been hurt by the church or appalled by hypocritical Christians. And although I feel like I understand why this happens, but they let those things keep them living a life of faith, fueled by the promise of the resurrection.

Yet this Easter I was reminded of what simple, yet powerful faith is all about. I preached today about the promise we have from God through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. I wanted to give those in church who had never accepted Christ as their Savior, a chance to confess their faith in the Lord and in their desire to live out the power of the resurrection. Two of those who raised their hands were mentally handicapped adults. I don’t even normally ask people to raise their hands, but I did today. I told them I wanted to see their faces and to pray for them specifically.

A simple, yet powerful faith is one that is trusting. It looks past those who might be watching and goes straight to the core of the issue. Without hesitation, those adults raised their hands. Their hearts and minds, I am convinced, have the freedom of a child. Nothing holds them back. They want to claim a saving faith in God. They don’t question it. They don’t limit it because of the other things they’ve faced in life. The just do it. The raise their hands and they are all in. And they want others to know.

From the very start, they stop and proclaim what God has done for them. Perhaps that is what has happened to us as tolerance has crept into our lives? We stopped proclaiming the promises of Easter daily, and we settle for a once a year remembrance on Easter alone and regardless of how you define it, faith should change us.

The promise of the resurrection begs us to understand this and to live it out everyday. Throw that tolerance to the wind – let that go – and embrace this year as a chance to live each day in power of the resurrection. Let yourself redefine faith like a child would. Don’t hold back. If you belong to God, then display that to your world. Don’t be ashamed. Don’t be fearful. Don’t let the value this world places on faith, be your guide for living a life of true faith in God.

Everyday is an opportunity to live out the promise of the resurrection. We just have to choose to live a life of faith like this. Allow the first Easter to define for you how to live a life of dynamic faith and true hope. We serve a living God who didn’t sacrifice His life for lie. Everyday we live should be a celebration of our faith in the Lord and in the promise of the resurrection of Jesus.

easterverse copy

guarding our time with the Lord

“I rise before dawn and cry for help; I wait for Your words. My eyes anticipate the night watches, that I may meditate on Your word.” (Pslam 119:147-148)

During this next month may you be encouraged to carefully consider your prayer life. Reflect on how and when you pray. This is not done to form legalistic patterns or to measure time or volume of prayer to dictate it being enough or even good.

We should seek to monitor and guard our prayer time with the Lord. Our truth today reminds us of how very important this truly is.

Is prayer a priority in your life? Is seeking God’s heart for your life and for the elements of your day the first thing you do? Many people hear stories of great saints who get up early to pray. They pray for a long time and people attribute success of their leadership because of their devotion to God through a vibrant prayer life.

Most of us won’t have that luxury. Maybe on a retreat and all alone we might have that experience every now and again. But most of us daily won’t be able to spend hours in prayer each day. And sadly, many of us feel shame over that fact. But we shouldn’t – could you grow in this area? Probably! Should prayer and spending quality time with God, consistently, be more of your focus? More than likely yes – but feeling shame over “not doing enough” only keeps you more at distance from doing “quality stuff” with God.

We have to stop comparing ourselves to others for there are many things that distract us from spending time with God in prayer.  We have to fight against those things. Life can get messy, a job can get busy, and a family member be be in terrible need. But we must not neglect the former (consistent time in prayer with the Lord) if we are going to make an eternal impact on the future.

Make an appointment with God. Ask your spouse to help you guard this time each day. Write verses of scripture on paper and tape them to your shampoo bottle. Redeem those moments in the shower or in front of the mirror as a time of prayer – by putting on the armor of God for you and family each day. Find the best time of the day for you to connect with God and make it a priority to do it then. Not when your tired and not when you are consumed.

Find someone you know who loves God and who will pray with you. Call them. Text them. Ask them to help you build up this area of your life. Start there. Start somewhere – and grow from that point.

Through prayer, God forms our hearts and transforms our lives. Through prayer we have direct access to the Lord. And through prayer we can develop our intimacy with God and our thirst for Him and His holy, righteous ways.

Is prayer a priority in your life? May you be encouraged throughout this month to reflect on your prayer life and seek ways to grow in this spiritual discipline.

(NOTE: the post today was taken from the “Daily Devos” that I write. To sign-up to receive them go to: http://nickolasemery.us6.list-manage2.com/subscribe?u=026a704b43a1b6cd8af81e245&id=c95886fdad