Tag Archives: Church

The Life-Giving Season of Lent: Giving More of Ourselves to Christ

The season of Lent consists of the forty days (minus Sundays) before Resurrection Sunday. Lent is a time of examining our hearts toward God, and of fasting or abstaining from something in order to give more of ourselves to Christ. The days of Lent also remind us of the time in which Jesus fasted in the wilderness for forty days and was tempted by the devil.

Examining Our Hearts

Giving God more of ourselves should always be part of our relationship with Him; however, Lent is an ideal time to examine our hearts regarding our pursuit of God. One way to do this is through the Examen Prayer, which can be used as a daily guide either as you begin or end your day.

We can also begin by asking ourselves a few of the questions below, seeking the Holy Spirit’s guidance in answering them. These questions can include:

  • Am I putting God first in my life, or simply trying to fit Him in?
  • Is there anything in my life that is or has the potential to distract me from God and living for Him?
  • Is there anything in my life that has a hold on me other than or above God and His will?

As we face the truth of our hearts and repent where necessary, we experience greater life in God. In the next section, you’ll find some helpful thoughts related to the last two questions. Continue reading

How to Truly Live the Christian Life

The Christian life is often very busy, isn’t it? Activity after activity fills the calendars of churches and the agendas of our lives. It can sometimes seem to gravitate to more and more doing, serving and doing some more.

Even our times of prayer–whether together or alone–can veer off from proper focus. For example, instead of first asking the Lord what He might want us to pray, we launch straight away into prayer based on what comes to our minds or is gnawing at our hearts.

Our activities are not necessarily bad in and of themselves. They can, however, help or hinder our Christian life. Continue reading

Experiencing God’s Love and Freedom in Spiritual Community

Did you know that some of the lies we struggle with can be extinguished as we do life in community? 

There are some lies we can be set free from especially as we do life with others in community. Things that can only be proven to us when we are not alone, not isolated nor in hiding. I’ve recently learned this in a big way in the midst of my own Christ-centered spiritual family.

As someone both in spiritual community and in leadership, I was so afraid to let my guard down. By choosing to face my fears, I discovered that I can stop trying to be perfect and that I don’t have to act like I’m okay when I’m not. I’ve discovered I can be the “still-in-process” me around them.

I’ve come to know that I can share my pains and struggles, knowing God will meet me there and display His love through them. I’ve seen the love of Jesus in the people of the house of prayer where I have planted myself.

Some of the lies that can be confronted in community include the fear of being rejected, abandoned, or hurt by people. Other lies relate to feeling like you don’t measure up, or that you have to be perfect or good enough to be loved or accepted. Continue reading

Go Deep Right Where You Are: Come Matter Here (Book Review)

Come Matter Here by Hannah Brencher brings us an important message: “Be where your feet are.” Stay, go deep with others and make a difference where you are.

We often tend toward spending our lives waiting for the next big thing, that call to a certain place or event in our lives. So few stay put and make a difference right where they are.

We can’t all go to the big ministry organization or other countries, and that’s okay because the place is not the point. Some of us have to stay and reach those around us right here, to build God’s Kingdom right where we are. Whether a small town or the big city, a tiny church or just our family, these people matter just as much. Continue reading

Results and Relationship: It’s Time to Abide

Recently I have embarked on another level of spiritual growth on the issue of being versus doing. God has shown me how often I was grading my relationship with Him based on how I feel or what I accomplish. Likewise, I have realized the Body of Christ as a whole tends to struggle with this issue.

As Christians we often declare that life with God is about relationship not religion. But we have often replaced relationship with another form of activity, one of seeking for results. Religion’s traditions, rituals and rules have been replaced with a striving to produce and see results.

In our quiet times with God, we often grade ourselves. Did we feel His presence tangibly, did we accomplish a lot in prayer or studying the Word? Often we do not even recognize we are viewing our time based on what we feel or accomplish ourselves.

We may even try Christian self-help strategies hoping for more answers to prayer. Yet life with God is primarily about friendship with Him, not getting our prayers answered. Prayers come as the fruit of that loving relationship.

In our congregations, we tend to base a successful outreach on how many people were saved or healed. Sometimes we even go after marketing strategies in attempts to get more results. But human methods will eventually fade.

At times we even view small churches as less than, or having something wrong. Nonetheless,  numbers and results we see are not necessarily an indicator of God’s approval or lack thereof.

God loves us before we accomplish anything. He is a God of relationship and love, not performance. Before Jesus had done any ministry, the Father’s declaration over Him was that He was well-pleased (Mark 1:11).

Numbers and results are not necessarily an indicator of God’s approval or the lack thereof. God loves us before we accomplish anything. He is a God of relationship and love, not performance.

It’s time for a 180. In John 15, Jesus said we would bear fruit (results) if we abide in Him (relationship). Only if we abide.

The Lord wants good fruit in our lives, but it cannot come unless we cultivate an ever deepening companionship with Him. And the fruit that comes through this friendship will alone be lasting.

This is the relationship Jesus opened up to us through His sacrifice on the Cross. This is the relationship we want others to enter into through our outreach. How can we tell them of their own need for relationship with the Creator if we ourselves are not truly pursuing it?

Abide in Christ, then fruit will come. Without abiding in Christ, we cannot truly know the heart of the King whose Kingdom we represent. Without abiding, we cannot rightly display the great love which He has for others.

May we set our hearts on knowing Jesus. We do not want to be hindered by our desire for results or to prove we are doing enough. May it be that we come to the place of knowing we are loved by God and rest in this truth.

As we love and obey the Father’s leadership, we can trust Him with the results. Let us choose to take Jesus at His Word, which He still proclaims to us today:

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” John 15:4 (NKJV)