Thursday, November 9, 2017

4 Critical Elements of Effective Confession

After David's sin with Bathsheba, his friend Nathan confronted him. When David realized the depth of what he had done, we are told that he confessed his sin to Nathan and to the LORD. As he often did, David then turned to his moleskine? to journal his thoughts.

We call David's moleskine the book of Psalms and this particular journal entry is most likely Psalm 51. You can see the Psalm in its entirety at the end of this post, but consider now what it can teach us about how to confess our sins to God:

Ask for Mercy

David wrote, "Have mercy on me, O God..." When we approach God, we should never carry a spirit of entitlement and we should never make demands. We should recognize that we are unworthy of his love and compassions and we are unable to cleanse ourselves.

Those who ask for mercy are those who have realized they need help. Only God can provide us with the righteousness we need, apart from Him and his purification, we are broken and lost souls. Thus we ask for mercy.

Acknowledge your sin

David wrote, "I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me." He made no excuses, he gave no reasons, he didn't try to rationalize his actions. He simply acknowledged that he had failed. Three words which are very difficult to speak are words we must all learn to say. "I was wrong."

I heard it once said that a heartfelt confession does not say, "I broke God's rules" but rather says, "I broke God's heart." Our sin has devastated God's creation and driven a wedge between our heart and God's. Only when we assume full responsibility for our sin can the healing process begin.

Accept purification

David wrote, "Cleanse me with hyssop and I will be clean. Wash me and I will be whiter than snow." Sin leaves a deep stain on our soul that we cannot get clean, but God washes us with the blood of Christ which purifies us from all unrighteousness.

Hyssop is a sponge like plant that was often used in the ancient world for bathing and cleaning. At the Passover, a hyssop plant was used to spread lamb's blood on the door posts so that the Death Angel would "pass over" the homes of God's people. Later, during tabernacle sacrifices, hyssop was used to sprinkle blood on the alter as a sign of confession and repentance. Moses' law also instructed Israelites to use a hyssop plant in some of the ceremonial cleansing ceremonies. Centuries later, a hyssop plant was used in one more ceremony. On the cross, Jesus said, "I thirst." His executioners provided him a hyssop plant which had been dipped in wine and vinegar.

When David said, "cleanse me with hyssop" he was undoubtedly looking back to Moses' law and the passover, but he was also unwittingly pointing ahead to the work of Jesus on the cross. Because of Jesus, 1 John 1:9 is true, "If we CONFESS our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to CLEANSE US from all unrighteousness."

Assume a new direction

David wrote, "Create in me a pure heart, O Lord, and renew a right spirit within me." David assumed that his life post-confession would be very different than his life pre-temptation.

Once God cleansed him, his heart would be pure. He would learn to love what God loves and to love how God loves. He would desire and pursue  God's priorities instead of his own.

Once God cleansed him, his spirit would be right. He would be content with God's provision. He would find hope and joy in the promises of God rather than the offerings of the world.

True confession doesn't happen because we get caught. True confession happens because we want to change. When we acknowledge our sin and accept God's purification, our life will take a new, and far better direction.


Read the entire Psalm below:


Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.
Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
so that sinners will turn back to you.
Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
you who are God my Savior,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.
May it please you to prosper Zion,
to build up the walls of Jerusalem.
Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
in burnt offerings offered whole;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

How a Simple Typo Deepened My Understanding and Changed My Perspective

I meant to type the word "trial", but instead I typed "trail". 

As I looked at my mistake I thought of James 1:2-4 as descriptive of a journey. The final destination is perfection and completeness (Christlikeness). Before we reach that destination, we must journey through the forest of steadfastness, learning how to be faithful and becoming more impressed by future glories than present suffering. 


Of course the TRAIL on which we walk through and to these destinations is named "TRIALS".

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Please Pray for My Friend

In 1984 the Detroit Tigers won the World Series, the Apple Computer replaced the Macintosh personal computer, Ronald Reagan was re-elected as president and my family moved to Muskegon, Michigan.
The first time we walked through the doors of the new church, a kind lady introduced herself to me and said, "My son is 'David' also. Let me introduce you to him." She walked me to the basement of the church where her son was already in Sunday School class and introduced me to one of my lifelong friends.
Since that moment, I have always been "David" because he has always been "Dave". It's been only been 33 years, but it feels like he's been with me through every part of my life.
He was my vice president when we ran against Matt and Jack in the mock election. We bunked together with Brian at Lake Ann. We threw marbles down the stairs and spit-wads at the chalkboard in middle school. While I patrolled the midfield throughout high school soccer, he played whichever wing was closest to the crowd side. In basketball, he padded his rebound stats by always missing the first shot (effectively clearing my assist) and making the second.
In college, we won intramural championships together, participated in the Lawlor riots, built a coal mine and a jurassic world in our suite, attended Church of the Inner Spring and when he got a deer under questionable circumstances... well, I know nothing about that.
I watched him beat cancer and then re-find the love of his life. I had the incredible privilege of performing the ceremony uniting him to Amy. I've watched him become an amazing father to his miracle little girl.
Dave is a friend after God's own heart. He is kind and caring to everyone he meets. He is the epitome of loyalty, choosing always to believe the best in me even when he didn't have to and it didn't benefit him.
Tomorrow my friend Dave will go under the doctor's knife.
Every week, I spend a great deal of time reading and praying over the requests of hundreds of my friends. My heart is always moved by what others are dealing with. If it's possible I'm going to be praying harder tomorrow. Will you pray with me for my friend?

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

6 Verses To Remind Yourself That God Is With You

When you find yourself in the wilderness of life, it is helpful to remember that God is there with you. Whether you are facing disappointment, discouragement, abandonment or uncertainty; God is with you. Not only does He know where you have been and where you are, He knows where you are going. Use these verses to remind you of this powerful truth:

Because God is with me, I need not be afraid

Joshua 1:9 - Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Because God is with me, He will be my strength

Isaiah 41:10 - Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Because God is with me, I can live with confidence

Romans 8:38 & 39 - For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Because God is with me, I will keep on walking

Psalm 23:4 - Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

Because God is with me, I can engage His mission

Matthew 28:19 & 20 - Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Because God is with me, I can be content no matter what

Hebrews 13:5 - Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Thursday, October 5, 2017

How Should Christians Process Horrific Tragedies?

Every week I send an email to our church family. Often this is just an update or reminder about coming events. This week, I chose to write about the Las Vegas shooting, and how I've been processing my thoughts. Below are my words to the church:


Dear Friends,

Monday morning, we woke up to the terrible news that a man had chosen to destroy the lives of hundreds of people and families in Las Vegas. In times like these it is difficult to know what to say. We have questions about why God would allow this and why these people's lives were ended without any apparent reason.

As I pondered these questions and this tragedy, I was reminded of Jesus' words in Luke 13.  Pontius Pilate, the cruel Roman leader, had ordered the deaths of many Jewish people. Their executions were carried out by Roman soldiers in the temple while they were offering sacrifices. This horrific act seemed senseless and horrific. For the Jews, it raised several of the same questions we are asking about Las Vegas.

In Luke 13, Jesus was asked about these events and in his response he also referenced a tower that had fallen and killed 18 people. Here are Jesus' words:

Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”

Consider the important points behind what Jesus is saying:
  • These people didn't die because of their sin. Sometimes, in a fallen world, bad things happen.
  • Let this be a reminder to you that death comes for all of us, often unexpectedly.
  • Are you ready to die?

As we grieve for this great loss of lives and as we seek ways to reach out to those who are hurting, let us also take time to reflect on our own lives. Are we ready to meet our maker? How well have we invested the time and resources He has given us? What will I do today that will matter in eternity?

Also, let's not forget, that in the midst of this pain and suffering we have great hope. We can still live with joy because we know that this present evil is only for a short time compared to the eternal inheritance our Father has prepared for us. We can be grateful to Him, we can have hope in the future and we can pour love and joy into the lives of those around us.

I'll see you on Sunday, when appropriately, we'll be talking about David in the wilderness. How do you respond when you find yourself in life's wilderness? Join my at 9:30 or 11 to talk more about it!

In Him,
David

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Las Vegas Shooting: A Window Into Hell?

Jimmy Kimmel recently said, "It feels like someone has opened a window into hell."
He is exactly right. Romans 1 suggests that at some points in human history, God releases His creatures to the consequences of their own desires.


Because they worship the creation instead of the Creator (read: they believe God and His Word to be irrelevant), He allows them to see what life without Him is truly like. It is almost as if God releases His sustaining hand for a moment.
"since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done." (Romans 1:28)
It feels like someone has opened a window into hell.
And having opened that window and seen into that window, how much more should we desire to turn from that window and embrace the loving and gracious authority of our Heavenly Father who has called us to a better path and a brighter future?

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

10 Thoughts on Complete Obedience to God

Sunday, I talked about the final straw for King Saul. His unwillingness to completely obey God demonstrated his devotion to himself and his own interests rather than to the sovereignty of God. As a result, he lost the kingdom. Here are 10 of my reflections from this important passage:


1. With God, there is always more to the story. He knows what we cannot know so He sometimes acts in ways we cannot understand.

2. Beware of the temptation to justify disobedience:

  • by painting an innacurate picture of incomplete disobedience
  • by blaming others
  • rationalizing your intentions
  • by promoting an external spirituality

3. Obedience is better than sacrifice. Disobedience nullifies sacrifice. You can never do enough good things to offset a heart not completely devoted to God.

4. Obedience flows from an embrace of what God says is and is not best for me. Disobedience is the result of pursuing what I believe to be best for myself.

5. God loves, but does not need our sacrifice and offering. However, God loves us and knows we need to be obedient and submissive.

6. Obedience is not a transaction. We do not obey to "get God on our side" so He will give us what we want. We obey because we recognize that He knows what is best and He has prescribed for us the best life possible.

7. Because God loves us, obedience to Him is the pathway to the blessed life.

8. Some behaviors are clearly prescribed for those who follow Christ. If you are not engaged in those behaviors, your worship and generosity is meaningless without obedience.

  • love God
  • love your neighbor
  • love one another
  • be gracious
  • be patient
  • be joyful
  • pray without ceasing
  • dwell on God's Word
  • meet together

9. Some behaviors are strictly prohibited for those who follow Christ. If you are engaged in those behaviors, your worship and generosity is meaningless without obedience.

  • sexual immorality
  • greed
  • anger
  • deceit
  • envy
  • hypocricy
  • slander

10. What does God want you to stop doing? What does God want you to start doing? Will you obey?

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Recipients Of Grace Become Persons of Peace

We will never agree on everything.

We disagree about what restaurants are best, which regions of the country are most beautiful, how much coffee is too much (hint, it’s not), who is the most trustworthy politician and who is not, where the best sports teams play and far more.

We can agree on some things, though. Everyone can agree that cookies are yummy, puppies are cute and barbecue smells great.

We can probably also agree that grace and peace are good and desirable.

In Galatians 1 (as well as most of his other books), Paul prays for the Galatian believers to experience grace and peace. I love that he chooses this wish for them rather than success and prosperity.

Receiving grace and peace in life is far more necessary than receiving success and prosperity. In fact, we need grace and peace precisely because we are never promised success, ease or prosperity.

This world will always offer one more enticement for us to chase. From every angle, we are bombarded with the message that we can be more successful and more prosperous. If we are not careful we will drown in the message that we need more. We need more of everything. We need more more. Anxiety and Hopelessness are often the result of believing a lie that we have less than we need.

The message that we don’t have enough or that we need to accumulate more is the message of what Paul refers to as “this present evil age”. This was the message of Satan in the garden of Eden (he told Eve she didn’t have enough and that she needed the “more” of the forbidden tree). It is also the message which today steals our grace and peace.

According to Paul, Jesus offers us grace and peace by rescuing us from the evil of this present life. Here’s how that works:
  • Grace and peace both find their origin in the same place. It’s the same place as Paul received his apostleship (hint: not himself).
  • The critical factors in Paul’s identity are the death and resurrection of Christ and his adoption as a son of God.
  • Salvation has its origin in God’s will, not man’s plans, actions or mechanisms
  • We experience grace and peace when we embrace our identity under the Father and in Christ.
  • When we value the forever offered by Christ as better than this present age, we will experience the grace and peace He designed us to appreciate.
  • Those who have been given grace and peace must extend grace and peace. As we offer grace and peace to others, we'll discover it multiplied in our own lives.
Watch below for more...

(follow up with small group discussion questions if you want)

Truth Matters - A Study in Galatians 06-25-2017 from The Gathering on Vimeo.

Friday, May 19, 2017

What Am I Doing On Purpose?

I'm in the middle of moving Emma out of her dorm room today. The sun is shining and temperatures have already moved upward of 80. Our sweat levels are at a minimum though because God has graciously provided a steady wind to keep us cool. I am grateful for this small yet significant providential blessing. Sometimes we can take his provision for granted when it isn't the "big things".

As we drove down, Marianne and I discussed how hard it is to believe that our baby girl is half way through college. Life seems to move exponentially faster as we age.

I cannot help but think that every day and every moment is precious and loaded with potential IF we are willing to be intentional and proactive in our decisions and actions. I am reminded to constantly ask myself, "what am I doing on purpose today to bring glory to God?"


That's not a bad question to ask yourself a couple times each day. What are you doing on purpose today to bring glory to God?

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Love is More Than A Feeling

1 Corinthians 13 is one of the world's most popular readings for weddings. These lines are perhaps the most poetic words Paul ever wrote. Here we find a simple and beautiful description of what love is and what love is not.

Love is NOT a Feeling


Feelings come and go. In a given day, any person may experience hundreds of various and conflicting feelings. Even couples who are deeply in love experience a wide range of feelings toward one another. Paul says love is lasting and eternal. On this matter, at least, Boston got it right. Love is "More Than A Feeling."

Love is Selfless


Reading through Paul's description of love, it becomes clear that true love thinks first of others and lastly of self. Jesus said as much in John 15 when He said the greatest love of all is the one who gives his life for the good of others. Paul described this type of love in his Philippians 2 hymn honoring the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf. God's love, in John 3:16, was made known through the gift of His Son. True love is selfless, sacrificial, gracious and generous.

Love is a Choice


Paul writes that love "bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things." These four words refer to how we respond to others and what we assume about others. Our love for others cannot be dependent on how they treat us.  We cannot control the behavior of those around us, yet we can control how we respond to them and we can control what we assume about them.

We can choose  to bear all things and endure all things. This means we don't react with violence, hatred or revenge. We take the pain upon ourselves (as Jesus did for us) so they need not suffer.

We can always assume the best about others. Even when it seems they wish us ill, love chooses to believe the best and hope the best about others. (This doesn't mean we should put ourselves in positions to be abused. It does mean we choose to think the best of them, even as we protect ourselves)

Love is Action


Loving people are those who act loving. This chapter is full of applicable teaching and I've chosen three obvious actions on which we can focus to be more loving people.

Those who love others act more sacrificial, less selfish and more forgiving. If you want to implement more love into your life, choose one of these loving expressions and focus each day on how to align your life with it:
How will I be more sacrificial today?
How will I be less selfish today?
How will I be more forgiving today?

Monday, March 13, 2017

SENSIBLE WORSHIP: Leftovers from Romans 12:1-2


Last Sunday, I preached on Romans 12:1-2. During my preparation, I always create a personal paraphrase of the passage from which I'm teaching. Here was this week's paraphrase:

After everything I’ve said, now I must call you to action. Because of God’s mercy, give your whole self over to Him. Don’t hold anything back and don’t hold on to any old sins. This type of worship is the best way to respond to Him. You’ve been renewed, so let it change the way you think. You shouldn’t look like the world anymore, but your life should mirror God’s will. That’s the best way to live.


I never get to preach all the content I discover while preparing. Here are 10 Observations from Romans 12 I made while studying over the past few weeks.


  1. Paul’s appeal was based on the truths he had already shared. Primarily, Paul’s appeal is rooted in God’s mercy toward us. We must understand Romans 1-11 as an exposition of God’s mercy.
  2. Even Romans 1, which speaks of God’s wrath, is an explanation of God’s mercy. The better we understand our own depravity, the more clearly we see the depth of God’s mercy.
  3. Humility leads to gratitude, because in seeing ourselves with clear eyes we recognize the vast amount of God’s mercy toward us.
  4. A living sacrifice means we are giving away something that is costly. If it is not costly, it is not a sacrifice.
  5. A living sacrifice means we do it now. It is not okay to think, “I’ll give God my full attention in eternity, but for now I’m going to enjoy this world.” Waiting until you die means you’re offering a dead sacrifice.
  6. A holy sacrifice means we cannot offer God a sacrifice which we know is full of sin. As long as we are holding on to sin, we cannot offer our life to God. That is unacceptable.
  7. A top priority for every follower of Christ should be seeking to discover the thing for which they’ve been set aside. We’ve been set aside to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth. We’ve been set aside to be aliens and strangers We’ve been set aside to be ambassadors of reconciliation.
  8. An acceptable sacrifice is the sacrifice of Abel which means our first and best. Offering God our live’s leftovers is not acceptable.
  9. If we offer ourselves as a living, holy and acceptable sacrifice; we will no longer look like the world. A Christian who “conforms” to the world is a hypocrite. He is behaving in conflict with his identity.
  10. In testing everything against God’s will, one can discern what should and should not be done. Discernment means when I face a tough decision, my first question should be “is this good, acceptable and perfect?”



One final thought... Our service is reasonable because:

  • Of what God has already done for us
  • Of what God is continuing to do
  • Such service is God’s will and His will is good, pleasing, and perfect
  • God is worthy of our best efforts
  • Only spiritual things will last

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

From Hope to Despair to Hope Again: Riding the Psalm 31 Roller-Coaster


I read the first verse of Psalm 31 and sighed deeply. I could tell this wasn’t going to meet me where I was today.
“In you O Lord, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame.”
That’s just not my experience in the past several years I thought. I tried to take refuge in God. I tried to do what was right. I tried to rely on Him to come through when the hour got darkest.
And He didn’t. I was, in my opinion, put to shame.


Verse 2 wasn’t much better.
“Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily!”
I remember praying those words. I remember begging for a speedy rescue, and then comforting myself that God doesn’t always work on our timeline. He doesn’t always provide a rescue the way we think He should.
I didn’t want to read any further. I was content to roll around in the mud of my disappointing past. As often happens, the stream of memories flooded over me… the lies, the betrayals, the agonizing choices all felt as if they were my life today, not the fading past they truly are.
But I read on, because that’s what I do. And verse 5 bowled me over.
“Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.”
Recognize those words? Of course you do. They are Jesus’ words on the cross. He spoke them right before He died. But long before Jesus spoke them, David wrote them. David didn’t write them before he died, David wrote them as a living commitment. He was literally putting his life into God’s hands.
God could do whatever He wanted with David’s life… He could take away his kingdom, he could allow David’s son to rebel, he could take David’s life.
…and David was okay with that.
I read further.
“Because of all my adversaries I have become a reproach, especially to my neighbors, and an object of dread to my acquaintances…”
I’ve been there. I’ve had to answer uncomfortable questions about newspaper articles which weren’t really even about me. I’ve had employers refuse to hire me because of my name. I’ve had my neighbors and acquaintances look suspiciously at me because of things they had heard.
“those who see me in the street flee from me.”
I thought of all those times in Meijer when people (who once served alongside me) hid from me.
“For I hear the whispering of many – terror on every side! – as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life.”
I remembered THAT email. The one which was sent to many of my friends. The one which revealed my true friends (a blessing in disguise). The pompous politician and his side-kick who schemed and slandered me then tried to bribe me…
Man, this Psalm 31 is depressing… but…
If I commit my spirit to God (give him full authority over my life), then I can’t really complain if He deems it appropriate to allow my adversaries to “win” and He allows my name to suffer and He allows me to be uncomfortable.
Everyone is happy to give up control of their life to God if that means He is going to “bless” them and make their life wonderful. It’s not as easy to give up control if He is going to sharpen us and form us through fire and tribulation.
Verse 14, after David’s airing of grievances, says:
“But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hand;”
Maybe God hasn’t provided the rescue I thought I needed or deserved. Maybe He still has something coming. Either way, I’m okay to trust Him. Either way, I can commit my life to Him.
If Jesus could commit His spirit to God, knowing it meant death…
If David could commit His spirit to God, knowing he might lose everything…
So can I, right?
Verse 24:
“Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD.”




*Update: This was written in 2013, many years ago and many miles ago. Today I can look back and say, "Yes. He was faithful."

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

You Need Not Pay Rent To Live On Anxiety Island

Everyone experiences stress and anxiety in their lives, but no one needs to live there. Anxiety Island is a lonely place where we believe the lie that no one else could possibly understand what we are going through. Jesus understands because He has been there. Because He suffered in every way like we do, we know we can look to Him to find the way out of anxiety and into God's peace which is the alternative to anxiety.
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On the night Jesus had every reason to break down from anxiety, he prayed.

Prayer is the alternative to anxiety.

Philippians 4:6-7 says:
"do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Turning our stress over to God allows us to rest in His peace instead of rolling around in our own panic. In the previous verses, Paul recommended constant rejoicing as a hallmark of the Christian life. The absence of rejoicing creates a void into which anxiety loves to move. For that reason, Paul continues in these verses by pointing out that thanksgiving should be the sauce on top of our prayers.

Thanksgiving is the antidote to anxiety.

When my life is full of gratitude to God, I leave no room in my heart or mind for anxiety.
This passage is about the power of prayer, not my problems and panic. We approach God with our needs because we are confident in His provision. That confidence is the result of regular thanksgiving and gratitude.
Notice, these verses do not promise we'll get what we ask for. They do promise peace, which is the result of letting go. For prayer to be effective against anxiety, we must be willing to give our requests to God and not take them back.

Trust is the antidote to anxiety

In the garden, Jesus asked God if there was another way. There was not. Even though Jesus didn't receive his request, He was so full of peace that He was able to endure His great trial with great patience, faith and even forgiveness. He trusted His Father to do the right thing!
Don't stay stuck on Anxiety Island. Fill your life with gratitude for all God has done, is doing and will do. Find reasons to rejoice in every situation. Present your requests to your Father, and let them go. Be confident that He will meet your needs, He will work things out and He will do what is right!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

5 Ways To Exercise Your Spiritual Muscles

A while back, I downloaded a free app named "human". The app runs silently on your iPhone and tracks your daily activity. The goal of each day is to be in motion (walking, running, etc.) for at least 30 minutes every day.

Many "fitness" fanatics suggest that everyone should exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. I'm not sure if the point of the app is to help you reach that goal through your normal daily activities (not terribly effective) or to help people realize that their daily activity is not enough to keep them healthy.

The first day I used the app. I woke up knowing I had a pretty busy day so I was confident I would knock out my 30 minutes easily... Probably by lunch.

That night at 10:30 when I checked the app, I was devastated to discover I had only accumulated 28 minutes of physical activity. Ugh. Slowly the reality set in... My daily routine is simply not enough to keep me healthy. I need to block off time every day to pay attention to my physical health.

And then I realized I had a sermon.




Many Christians live as if an hour in church is all that is required for spiritual health. They live their daily routines (perhaps pausing to pray for a meal) believing that their life's routine is sufficient to sustain their faith. Truth is... Your daily routine is simply not enough to keep you healthy. You must figure out how to block off time every day to pay attention to your spiritual health.

Exercising your spiritual muscles doesn't have to be intense. Here are five simple things you can do to exercise your spiritual muscles.

  1. Listen to a sermon. Download it, get a DVD, subscribe to a podcast.
  2. Sit in creation. Find a quiet place, sit down, look around, and think of all the things in your life for which you can be thankful to God.
  3. Take a prayer walk/drive. Choose a neighborhood and walk or drive through it praying that God would bless the residents and reveal himself to them. (If you drive, pray with your eyes open)
  4. Read a Proverb. Reading any part of the Bible will contribute to your spiritual health. Proverbs are powerfully insightful and practical. If you can read and apply them regularly, they will significantly increase your spiritual health.
  5. Give something away. When we sacrifice ourselves, we are like Jesus. Giving things away reinforces our belief that God is in control and that He has an amazing future which He keeps for us,