How Is Your Walk With God? 

A few years ago, a friend remarked that he thought it was weird that a pastor asked him how his walk with God was going. I thought it was sad that he was weirded out by that question, for as brothers and sisters in Christ, we should all be asking and encouraging each other in this (Hebrews 10:24). As believers, we all have a walk with God, be it bumpy and bruised or close and constant. Each walk should entail our prayer life, our gospel infusion, and our Scripture interaction. As we lovingly and caringly ask our brothers and sisters about their walk with God, let us encourage or spur them on in these areas.

Prayer Life 

Do you talk with God?

Are you coming to God throughout your daily experiences?

Like the Psalms record prayers to God in both good times and bad, distress and rejoicing, we should be coming to God in all situations. For God, our Heavenly Father, knows and sees, loves and cares, hurts and rejoices. Our Heavenly Father is the first person we should turn to.  Sadly, we turn to others for gossip and slander to work our hurt and strife, or to worldly wisdom and advice to work through indecision and confusion, or addiction and entertainment to medicate our frustrations and loneliness. But there our Heavenly Father waits for us to come to Him.

Gospel Infusion 

How does your awareness of your sin and God’s grace affect how you view yourself and others?

Our understanding of the gospel is of greatest importance. If we misunderstand it, then we are buried in guilt and fear or untethered, floating in a vast and treacherous sea of sin and confusion. The gospel clearly states who we are, as condemned sinners who are forgiven and free by Jesus’ work. It clearly states who God is, as our holy, righteous, and just creator, who loves us enough to save us and restore us. This understanding invigorates us to live holy and God pleasing lives. It helps us view others as fellow beggars and strugglers. It helps us live lifes oozing and ooching mercy, love, grace, and righteousness (Romans 6-8). 

Scripture Interaction 

Do you read the Bible? 

As you do, do you sense God’s power? Conviction? Peace? Direcion? Hope?

The Bible is God’s word to us. The thoughts, desires, commands, plans, promises, and purposes of God were recorded by men in prayers, visions, stories, histories, wisdom, and poetry. God’s word is what we need to hear from God and learn of His heart and ways. If we are walking with God it is essential that we immerse ourselves in understanding and applying His word to our lives. We do this purposefully by planning times of reading, hearing, meditating, and memorizing. God’s word is living and active which means that it is what we need to keeping going and growing (Hebrews 4:12; 2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Let it not be weird to ask each other about our walk with God! Day by day, step by step, let us keep growing closer to our Heavenly Father, expanding and overflowing in our understanding of grace, being assured, inspired, convicted, and challenged in wisdom and truth. As Adam and Eve walked with God in the garden, may we delight each day in the presence of our Creator and Savior! It’s not wierd but loving to ask and care about that. 


Heavenly Father

With thoughts of Father’s Day, it is good to remember and draw near to our Heavenly Father. Many are without fathers or good fathers, so it is comforting to know that we all can come to our Creator, Sustainer, Savior, or Heavenly Father. Both as an example to us as a father and as a relationship that we must develop, God is our Heavenly Father. He is a good father and many have walked in His ways by being good fathers by:

Listening and Caring
God desires to know us and be known by us. He has opened up the lines of communication by revealing Himself in creation, His words, and His Son, Jesus. Jesus told us to pray to Him as our Heavenly Father (Matthew 6:5-9). This is a relationship of love, care, listening, and enjoying. As our Heavenly Father, God delights in us as His children and wants us to come to Him at all times and situations (Think of the Psalms, where these men came to God and expressed their hearts of fear, anger, sadness, hurt, loss, frustration, and anxiety).

Providing and Protecting
God desires that we realize that He is our rock and salvation. He is where we should run for help, safety, and hope. God is all-wise and knows what is best for us. He is all-powerful and can do anything or provide anything that we need. As our Heavenly Father, he is with us, giving to us, keeping us, and wants us to run to Him and trust in Him. We should have great peace and less anxiety knowing that our Heavenly Father is providing for us and protecting us. (Matthew 6:11, 25-34)

Disciplining and Directing
God has a plan and purpose. We are a part of that. God is working His glory and our good. He is bringing His kingdom to our hearts. As our Heavenly Father, he disciplines us to make us more like Him or what we were created to be. His discipline is sometimes confusing or painful and we chafe under His loving guidance. We must remember that He knows what is best and is working what is best in us and ultimately in this world.

Like a good father disciplines his children, God does the same. He is working holiness and love in us. He is working eternal things and helping to have the right undestanding and appreciation of worldly things. We should surrender to His loving guidance and direction. (Hebrews 12:7-11; Matthew 6:10, 19-24)

So the challenge and encouragement is that:
1. We all have a Heavenly Father to run to, talk with, and trust in… He loves us more than we will ever know.
2. As fathers, we have an example to follow in listening and caring, providing and protecting, and disciplining and directing.
3. We should encourage the fathers who are walking in the ways of our Heavenly Father and let them know they are loved and appreciated.
4. We should train our young men to walk in the ways of our Heavenly Father so that we have loving, peaceful, nurturing, and godly families.

Defeating the Murmur Monster

Life is difficult and how we respond to that difficulty demonstrates our measure of trust and delight in God. Many times we are too self-centered or self-focused that we miss all the God is doing and working in us and in others. When we are self-focused, we complain, gripe, or murmur. The books of Exodus and Numbers show us what God thinks of murmuring and it should be a warning for us when we spot it in our thinking and attitudes. 

Murmuring is complaining about people or situations, which shows our lack of trust and gratefulness in God and spreads to infect others with this bitter spirit.

Hebrews 12:14-15 (Root of Bitterness- this is a heart condition)

Ways that we murmur:

Numbers 11-12

  • Disappointment– I’m not getting what I want! (11:4)

  • Nostalgia– The old days were better! (11:5) (Ecclesiastes 7:10)

  • Blame/Accusation– Why did God bring us here? (11:6) Why (God) are you doing this to me? (11:11)

  • Defeat– I can’t do this! (11:12-14)

  • Ultimatum– If You do this, God then I’ll be able to handle it. (11:15)

  • Doubt– This can’t work! (11:22-22)

  • Envy– Why them and not ME! (12:2)

God’s Response:

  • Anger (Numbers 11:1)

  • Help work through the situation (Numbers 11:16-17)

  • Hears the cries (Numbers 11:18)

  • Appropriate consequences (Numbers 11:19-20)

  • Anger/Plague (Numbers 11:33))

  • Puts people in their place (Numbers 12:5-9)

  • Anger/ Leaves (Numbers 12:9)

  • Sends Disease (Numbers 12:10-12)

Other passages: Exodus 16:7-8; Numbers 14:27-36; 16:11; 17:5

Fighting the Murmur Monster

Remember Hebrews 12:14-15 (Root of Bitterness)

Principles from Philippians

  1. What does this matter since Christ is proclaimed? (Philippians 1:18)

  2. Humility (Philippians 2:3-11)

  3. Pure and Blameless witness (Philippians 2:14-15)

  4. Eternal Values and Goals (Philippians 3:7-10)

  5. Philippians 4:4-9

    1. God is NEAR

    2. God will HEAR

    3. Seek His PEACE

    4. Set your mind on GODLY THINGS

    5. PRACTICE what you have received-the GOSPEL

When we sense murmuring inside our hearts then we must remind ourselves of:

Who God is (His loving-kindness)

What God is doing/working (His holiness and kingdom)

What should be most important to us (What God wants)

Run Christian Run!

Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us,

Hebrews 12:1

The Bible lets us know that life is not easy. The Christian life can be and will be even more difficult. So if you are in the middle of a trial or testing then do not be surprised. Life is rough and it is like a long, arduous race.

This phrase in Hebrews 12:1 shows us that:

1. The Christian life is like a marathon and takes endurance 

2. The Christian life has a route which God is leading us

We are running a marathon and not a quick sprint. 

Following Jesus is a long, difficult journey. Think of the good, sweet things in life… a good reputation, a good relationship, a good character….  Those things take time… lots of time to develop. They need to be tested, strengthened, and developed by difficult circumstances. Good, sweet, eternal qualities are the things that God is developing and strengthening in us. Therefore, it is a long distance or long term project. 

Those things that come easy are typically the things that we take for granted and are not of eternal value. The trials and tears or pains and problems typically produce what is most meaningful and eternal. God wants to work in you His likeness and that is not some cheap, easy, quick project. Your life’s difficult circumstances are to train you, make you, craft you, and develop you, by God, to be more like Him.

Knowing this Christian life will take time and endurance should help us to not be surprised by the difficulties that come but where does this endurance come from? Endurance comes from God. He is our strength. Life’s circumstances strip us of the notion that we can do it on our own and reveal that we need… we need God! 
God has a route planned for you. We know it will take time and endurance but where is it going? 

The goal is eternal and is about us becoming more like God so the paths, hurdles, and track are all leading that direction. What does that look like in our living it?  God uses physical, relational, and circumstantial hurdles to direct us toward Him. When bad health, trying marriages, or job loss are a part of our life that is the track God is using to develop and strengthen His character and presence in us.

We can say that we believe all the glories and blessings of the Bible or Gospel all we want but our belief only SHOWS when it is tested. Do you believe God loves you even when your health is failing or you lose a loved one? Do you believe that God is your rock and salvation when your marriage is falling apart or you get fired from your job? Do you believe that Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords when you have struggles with your child’s behavior or a friend betrays you? 

Life’s circumstances display what our faith is really made of… but they can also help us develop and grow in faith and holiness as well. Any of those horrible circumstances could knock us on our rear and disorient our devotion but it is how we respond to the failure that matters. 

In order to keep running and develop that endurance…

Keep coming to God! Psalm 13 and 88 show very distraught individuals but they keep coming even though they are sad, confused, mad, rejected, and hurting. This demonstrates your faith, in that, even though you don’t see it or feel it, you still believe God may show up.

Keep reminding yourself of that large cloud of witnesses!  You are not the only one who has gone through this. We have example after example of those who have gone before us and wrestled through. We see their good and bad but always God’s faithfulness. 

Train and prepare! Every good athlete practices and conditions their body for the sport they are in. How does a Christian do this? 

  • Read, meditate, study, and memorize the Word of God- this is how you know God’s promises and presence.
  • Walk with Godly people- much like trainers, godly believers can help point out weaknesses, help us develop godly practices, and always cheer us on.
  • Eliminate the distractions- evaluate your entertainment and hobbies… do they cause you to put on the worldly weight or do they help you run faster and longer?

I Don’t Have To Be Jesus

A coworker mentioned in the midst of frustration and busyness that she was “trying to be Jesus” to those around her. As I thought about it, I thought that “being Jesus” was quite a tall order. No wonder we could get so busy, frustrated, and overwhelmed if we are trying to be Jesus. So I messaged her this:

“You got me thinking about that phrase ‘being Jesus to people’ and like you I’ve heard and used it a lot. But I got thinking that maybe a better way to think of it is being ourselves and pointing people to Jesus. Only Jesus can be Jesus, and we have a long way to go and a heavy burden trying to fill that order (at least I do). I think we can demonstrate the amazing work that Jesus had done in our lives and point them to Jesus. Jesus can be Jeus to them and not let them down like we might… or at least I will. Maybe it’s better to take the pressure of being a perfect and holy God off ourselves and give that back to Jesus. Perhaps we are better at displaying His amazing work in our transformed lives. Maybe I’m just weird but it’s just a thought… ”

I’ve heard the phrase several times since and still think that we overburden ourselves with trying to be Jesus to others. Although the sentiment is to share Jesus’ love, kindness, and goodness to others, it is still a daunting task. All Jesus asks us to be are His followers. We submit to Him and He makes us, sends us, speaks through us, heals us, saves us, changes us… the list could go on and on but the point is that HE DOES IT. We just need to come and allow God to do what He do in and through us. Many times it is in our frailty, weakness, inability, hardship, struggle, and imperfections that God shows Himself. 

So perhaps a better way to say it and approach it is; I’m going to be me and hopefully showcase how wonderful and awesome Jesus is in me. It really comes down to surrender rather than performance. Jesus is the show and we are His stage. So it’s not so much “trying” but “surrendering” to God and watching Him do what He do in us and through us.

For since, in God’s wisdom, the world did not know God through wisdom, God was pleased to save those who believe through the foolishness of the message preached. Yet to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is God’s power and God’s wisdom, because God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength. Brothers, consider your calling: Not many are wise from a human perspective, not many powerful, not many of noble birth. Instead, God has chosen what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen what is weak in the world to shame the strong. God has chosen what is insignificant and despised in the world — what is viewed as nothing — to bring to nothing what is viewed as something, so that no one can boast in His presence.
1 Corinthians 1:21‭, ‬24‭-‬29

From Hear To There

We all face varied ways to think and live. How often do we evaluate whether we are on the right path? Typically only life jarring events wake us up to where we are in life, like death, bankruptcy, unemployment, divorce, and illness. We live, breathe, think, and act in a daze of monitony as we work out the routine of each day’s scheduled activity and urgent requests. But dare we stop in silence and scrutiny?

What dictates how we think, act, and speak? 

For the Christian it is to be the word of God and the presence of the Holy Spirit. But if we are honest, it is routine, worldly advice, and feelings that guides us each day. God seeks that we listen. In order to do this we must:

1. Slow down and make time to listen- Think of ways you can stop the busyness for time to listen to God. If we are always go go go then it is all the easier to just act and react out of routine and selfishness. Think of your week… each day… when can you MAKE time to listen to God? Understanding that God is always with us and always speaking should open our thoughts to the possibility of pausing frequently to ask, what is God speaking through this…whatever it may be?

2.  Open God’s word to listen- How diligent are you to reading the Bible? Studying the Bible?  Memorizing the Bible? Meditating on Scriptures?  God mainly speaks to us through His word in the Bible so it is very important that we get a handle on it. Commit to a reading program… commit to making time for study, memorization, and meditation of the Bible.

3.Mine the moment- God is with you and speaking to you through the events and experiences of your life. Nothing just happens but what happens it to reveal God’s character or our need for God or an example of Biblical truth.  Good or bad fun or  frustrating, life opens up understanding of God and His truth if we listen.

Listening to God will take us from this momentary situation to eternal glory. Each day, each moment, each experience will be filled with God’s presence and glory because we will see His hand at work providing, protecting, and preparing us for that which we were created.

Then He said, “Anyone who has ears to hear should listen! ”
Mark 4:9 HCSB