Contentment, Devotion, Personal Growth, Series, Uncategorized

Day 5: “Can You Slow Down?”

slowResting sounds good in theory; however, slowing down could make you realise some struggles you can’t seem to overcome. A cluttered mind helps you avoid that which is uncomfortable. Busy-ness allows you to sweep your pain under the proverbial ‘rug,’ denying Christ’s gift of rest. Your condition is clogged – your heart, hardened.

Consider the writer of Hebrews’ words: “let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2a NIV).

What hinders you from an encounter with The Living God? He’s nearer than ever, watching over you, loving you, yearning for you to cast off whatever holds you back so you can stay on the course he has mapped out for you.

Are you insecure and unsure of your worth?

Have you fallen into the comparison trap?

Is it fear?

What about anger or un-forgiveness?

Can you slow down long enough to inspect your heart? 

We all have tender places of struggle. That’s not bad. We get into trouble when our compulsions consume us, our transgressions taint us, our shortcomings strip God’s truth right out of our hands.

Over the next several days, let’s pause, take an audit, and then believe God for breakthrough. Ask the Holy Spirit to shed light on any darkness that has caused a blockage in your walk with God. Don’t be afraid of what you discover. The very area you might be avoiding could be the key to freedom and peace – true rest.

“So watch your step, friends. Make sure there’s no evil unbelief lying around that will trip you up and throw you off course, diverting you from the living God. For as long as it’s still God’s Today, keep each other on your toes so sin doesn’t slow down your reflexes. If we can only keep our grip on the sure thing we started out with, we’re in this with Christ for the long haul” (Hebrews 3:12-14 MSG).

 

Devotion, Fasting, Personal Growth, Uncategorized

Day 21: “Keep Going.”

come-like-rainTo paraphrase the Apostle Paul in Philippians, “[You’ve] got your eye on the goal, where God is beckoning [you] onward – to Jesus. [You’re] off and running, not turning back.” The 21 Day fast is coming to an end, but you will continue to benefit from a vibrant relationship with God.

This relationship is two ways, however. It’s often said that God is a gentleman, never pushing his way in or demanding anything from you. James promises that God will come close to you when you come close to him.

You must acknowledge him and shift your thoughts towards him daily in order to experience his refreshing. Faith brings full assurance when you draw near to God with a sincere heart (Hebrews 10:22). In other words, you can count on your faithful God; but, it’s difficult to trust someone you don’t talk to or spend time with.

“So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it”(Philippians 3:15-16 MSG).

“Let us acknowledge the Lord;
    let us press on to acknowledge him.
As surely as the sun rises,
    he will appear;
he will come to us like the winter rains,
    like the spring rains that water the earth.” Hosea 6:3

Devotion, Fasting, Uncategorized

Day 12: “Be Inventive Today.”

love-and-good-worksMuch of the New Testament was written to churches, giving instruction and encouragement.  We are no different today in our need for constant affirmation of our faith, authentic friendships, a pat on the back. Hebrews 10:24 in The Message says, “let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out.”

It’s easy to offer up a prayer for someone in your life who may need it. Today, why not go the extra step and use a little imagination in how you encourage someone in your world?

You often receive back what you’re willing to give when it comes to friendship and community. Think about who in your church might need to hear from you today. See how resourceful you can be in reaching out. Try picking up the phone instead of the easy text message. Invite someone for dinner or coffee. Write a nice card. Bring flowers.

You know the old adage, “actions speak louder than words.” Usually things are cliché because they hold truth. God created us with a need for friendship and support. You aren’t meant to do life alone.

Faith, Fasting, Inspiration, Uncategorized

Fasting Devotion, Day Five

(Post submitted by Robyn Kennaugh)

Hebrews 12:1-3 Philippians 3:12-21

The Christian life isn’t about standing by as a spectator; rather, we are all encouraged to be participators. Each of us has an individual course mapped out that only we can run. I can’t run yours and you can’t run mine. In everyday life, there are the ‘super sprinters’ and the ‘persistent plodders’; but in our spiritual life, God is looking for some “FAITHFUL FINISHERS.”

He never mentions that we should finish in record time. He just encourages us through these verses in Hebrews to strip down to the basics, to lay aside anything that would hold us back and to concentrate on crossing the finish line.

Fasting means laying aside things that take up our attention and energy under normal circumstances and focusing on things that God thinks are most important for our spiritual and physical health.

This periodic commitment helps us stay on course to finish our race strong. Remember that doing without something for a short while can help us see something far more important that will last for a long time, for all eternity.

Paul says in Philippians that he didn’t have it all together but he had his eye on the prize; his heart was set on hearing not the adulation of the crowd around him but the applause of heaven and the words of Jesus, “well done, good and faithful servant.”

So if we get despondent while running our race, we should remember Jesus – he didn’t let any hostility or opposition cause him to give up on his mission here… to save you and me.

God, you are so awesome to have a race marked out especially for me. I am thankful for this journey no matter how difficult it seems at times to stay on course. Give me strength to run my race well. Give me vision for my future so that I can run with purpose and passion. Help me to remain faithful at all times. In Jesus’ mighty name, Amen.

church, Uncategorized

Growing Up

Having two toddlers in our home makes for busy days full of laughter, imaginary friends and pets, picky eating, and TANTRUMS!  Our almost-two-year old, Samuel, has two favourite words: “mine,” and “no.”  He is exerting his independence and the battle for control is raging.  Many times, he sits down and looks the other way when given a direction he doesn’t want to take.  I can beg, coax, bribe, demand all I want, but he is not cooperating.  He may kick and scream as I practically drag him where I want him to go.  Although this behaviour is quite annoying and tests my patience and every other fruit of the spirit when it happens, it’s all a part of growing up.  Sam is still young.  He drinks milk with every meal.  He takes a dummy (pacifier for my American readers) to soothe himself to sleep.

Sam doesn’t have enough experience yet to understand consequences for his behavior, although he is learning.  He doesn’t have enough maturity to know everything isn’t all about him and that he doesn’t get whatever he wants on demand.  In time, my expectation as a mother is that he WILL get control of his emotions; he WILL obey me when I ask him to do something; he WILL share and cooperate with his siblings even when he doesn’t like it.

As a Christian, it’s important that we grow up in our faith.  In the church, childish behaviour can be quite prevalent if we allow it.  We fall into the trap of “consumerism Christianity” where we go to church to be entertained; we judge everything according to our likes and dislikes: how loud is the music? How much fun did our kids have in service?  We join a small group so we can socialize with other “believers” and we only like sermons that make us feel good.  We take what we feel we deserve to get from it, never realizing our part to play.  Then, if we aren’t satisfied with something… if the pastor offends us… if we are being challenged to grow up, we quit.  We quit on church, or even worse, we quit on God.

That’s like a tantrum.

Like Saul just before his radical conversion, Jesus is telling us not to “kick against the goads.”  If we realize we have a greater purpose than ourselves, we might understand he has a job for us. Jesus has handpicked us to be servants and witnesses to what’s happened in our lives (Acts 26:16).  In other words, “IT’S NOT ABOUT ME!”

How many times does God have to say it to get our attention?  Let us not be like Samuel, needing Mum to go over the basics again and again.  The writer of Hebrews says that we keep needing baby’s milk when we should have been on solid food long ago.  “Milk is for beginners, inexperienced in God’s ways; solid food is for the mature, who have some practice in telling right from wrong.”  This was written to Hebrew Christians who were struggling embracing their faith in Christ, leaning back to their Jewish roots. They needed encouragement on the implications of following him and growing up in their faith.

A milk based Christian diet is BORING and BLAND!  God wants each of us to go deeper than where we are currently with him. He wants our witness to bear some fruit that has eternal impact and our life to be devoted to him.  Unlike me in my parenting, however, God doesn’t drag us where he wants us to go.  He allows us the choice to either stay where we are or to mature into all that he has planned for us.

God doesn’t want us to re-live one year’s lessons over and over so that we find ourselves the same person in a decade, just 10 years older.  

Let us not spend our lives missing the point of our salvation.  Simply ticking the box to get into heaven isn’t enough for mature Christian living.  Let’s look beyond ourselves and serve others.  Learn to give and take in our marriages.  Gain a deeper understanding of His word; experience closer intimacy with him.

When we walk with God keeping eternity in mind, we actually lead the way for others to know Him.  No one would model their lives after a two year old nor would they let Sam lead the way or give advice on any topic.  Let us not have the same reputation and

Grow Up Together.

Australia, Inspiration, Uncategorized

Patient Endurance

I can quote all kinds of phrases about success being a journey and not a destination.  How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.  Life’s a marathon, not a sprint.  Yet, when it comes to a big goal in life, I’m tempted to let the overwhelming process cause me to give up on my dreams.  How do we bridge the gap between where we are and where we want to be?

One

day

at

a

time.

When I think about living in Australia, my brain gets bombarded with questions:

  • How are we going to get people to come to our house for church?
  • Will we ever have enough people to launch a real service?
  • Who will lead worship for us so its not cheesy?
  • Where is the money going to come from?
  • Will I need to get a job and if so, what will I even do?
  • Not to mention, “Where are we going to live?” and “what school is my kid going to go to?”

God clearly spoke and reminded me to take it

one

day

at

a

time.

He encouraged me that how we got where we are today wasn’t through some out of body experience that promoted us to “leader status.”  We got here one choice at a time.  Handling the small stuff each and every day brings progress.  After each of my three pregnancies, I gained 50 pounds; I wanted to lose weight immediately after I gave birth and ran a couple of miles.  Instead, it took nine months!  Early in our marriage, Greg and I were in heaps of credit card debt.  I wanted to get on a budget for a few months and see it all magically disappear.  Instead, a couple of years of strict financial discipline and working hard to earn extra money finally allowed us to pay it all off.

Think of this: the same logic we use to justify a bad decision can be used to gain positive momentum in life.  For example, I can look at a bowl of ice cream and say, “it’s just one bowl.  Eating it will not make me gain five pounds” (bad decision).  Or, I can look at it and say, “it’s just one bowl.  But, I’m not gonna eat it.”  If I do that consistently for a few weeks, I’ll lose five pounds.  The problem is, instant gratification often overrides this logic.  Instead of convincing ourselves that “a little bit won’t hurt” why not say “a little bit WILL help?”

The phrase “good things come to those who wait” is partially misleading. I guess it applies if you’re talking about standing in line to ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.  Following the crowd mindlessly will eventually lead you to the ride.

For everything else in life, there’s work in the waiting.  While we are waiting to launch Lift Church, we are working hard.  There’s not much I can do today grow Lift Church, but I CAN grow myself.

Who we area today, is a direct result of the choices we have made over time.  The great news is: the person I want to become doesn’t depend on finding a genie in a bottle or winning the lottery.  I just have to work on today. Planting a church in Australia isn’t happening overnight.  The way we are going to get there is

one

day

at

a

time.

We will work while we are waiting.  Everyday, I spend time with God.  Everyday I pray.  Everyday I read my Bible.  Everyday I take care of my physical body through exercise and healthy eating.  Every paycheck, I tithe.   Discipline, praying for God’s favor, serving people, making the phone calls to raise money, keeping our family life a priority, networking.   Even when we don’t feel like it.  Day by day.  Little by little.  One bite at a time.  I’ve spent the last 35 years doing that.  So, today, I’ll just do it again. And tomorrow more of the same. And when worry or fear creeps up, I’ll just do it anyway.  And then, one day, I’m gonna wake up and realize, we have a church!

Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. Hebrews 10:36