Tag Archives: discipleship

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.

The key to knowing whether they are helping or hindering is what or who are we connected to as we do these activities. Are we engaging in activities that truly build our relationship with Jesus and living for His glory?

Everything in our lives as Christians should flow from the intimate place of partnership and communion with Jesus, not the other way around. He is not only our Savior but our Lord and we want to seek His heart and thoughts rather than doing our own thing. We can’t come to know Him or His will if we do not make time to know and hear His voice, being in His Word and allowing His Spirit to lead all of our lives.

Relationship with God and loving Him must be first place in our lives, even when it comes to all else that relates to our sanctification and furthering His Kingdom.

We want to make our first aim to build friendship with Jesus above all. God alone is the source from which everything else in our life as a Christian flows. Without Him, we cannot truly bear good fruit or choose to live out godliness to the full. In John 15:4-5, Jesus says:

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (NASB)

Imagine this: You’re married. You love your spouse and do lots and lots of stuff for them; however, you never stop and ask them what they actually would like or you don’t actually do life together in partnership as one. You would both be living your lives, but not in a very connected way like a branch would be connected to its vine. How would that work for years of marriage? You probably get the picture now.

Friendship with God is far more than simply checking things off our “good Christian” list. He is our Creator who is Father, Savior and the Lover of our souls. We are called children of God, the Bride of Christ, not workers but lovers. In this, we are invited to learn from Him. He invites us to walk out our lives in partnership with Him as our Head or Leader, teaching us in His ways of life and love.

“Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, ‘Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.’ But the Lord answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.’” (Luke 10:38-42 NASB, emphasis added)

As those who have taken His name–Christian–when we made Him our personal Savior and Lord, we should desire to know Him more and do life His way. We need this time to learn how to live in step with His Spirit in our day-to-day lives. This is the “good part” that Jesus speaks of to Mary.

Without attempting to cause you confusion: Mary actually was doing an activity. However, this activity was one of relationship-building and discipleship. She was investing in her relationship with Jesus, to know Him and His ways as she took time away from other activities to listen to His Word.

Like Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet, there are certain activities we can engage in to help build our relationship with Jesus. Just as a husband and wife would talk together to grow closer and know what is on each others’ hearts, we are called to know our King. We are called to be disciples of Christ, positioned just as Mary was to partake of His instructions in the context of relationship with Him. (Is this new to you? For more on what it means to be a disciple of Christ, read this excellent article by Phylicia Masonheimer.)

Several of these relationship-building activities include spiritual disciplines such as:

Solitude: We draw near to Him by drawing away from other people and activities for a time to be alone with Him and engage in one of the other spiritual disciplines outlined below.

Silence, Listening and Prayer: We quiet our hearts in a time of silence to seek what He would say. We put our own requests aside to first start by asking Him what is on His heart for us or others, whether for us to rest in His love, to pray for ourselves or others as He leads, or repent for something His Spirit convicts us of.

Worship: We speak or sing to Him our “thank You’s” for giving His life for us, for caring for us, providing for us, healing us, etc. We sing praises and sing His Word to Him, as prayers or over ourselves to help our minds be renewed to think like He thinks.

Bible Study: We read our Bibles and ask the Holy Spirit to grow our relationship with God as we read His words to us. We ask Him questions about His Word and journal the impressions we receive from Him. We ask Him to use the Scriptures to renew our minds and show us the heart and character of Jesus so we can be transformed into His image.

Fasting: We fast a meal and instead use the extra time to spend with Him. Or we take a break from entertainment, social media or our phones and dedicate that time to Him.

Obedience and Service: We respond to the things He has spoken to us through His Word and by His Spirit–not because we have to but because of His love for us and ours for Him, obeying as He leads and serving others in partnership with Him.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • How much of a priority do I give knowing Jesus in my daily life?
  • When was the last time I pulled away from all the “stuff” and simply loved on Him with no other agenda?
  • When was the last time I set aside my own requests, quieted my thoughts (even moving my phone to another room on silent) to see what He wanted to speak?
  • When was the last time I read my Bible and studied Jesus’ words with the help of His Holy Spirit?

Make it your aim to grow your relationship with Jesus as your first goal in this life, growing in intimacy with Him and learning to walk in His ways. From that place alone, let all other activity flow.

God’s Answer When We Feel Nothing

Perhaps you’ve experienced seasons where you were feeling little or nothing at all. You may even feel this way now: numb, empty, wondering why.

Maybe this is simply while spending time in God’s presence. Or it could be what you feel most of the time, in every situation. I’ve personally been in such a season recently. Emotions have not been felt as deeply—especially the positive ones such as joy, excitement and enthusiasm.

This has bothered me because—even in this trying season—there is still plenty to be joyful or excited about! New things are on the horizon for our house of prayer; promises we have long awaited are being fulfilled. And when events worth celebrating happen, we all want to share in the excitement, don’t we?

In response, God recently brought a life-altering revelation. I knew that this was something others also needed to hear because this revelation came with the potential to greatly change our perspectives, and even increase our pursuit of His heart.

God’s Answer

Be encouraged, beloved, God has an answer that might just be for you right now.

God impressed upon my heart that feeling nothing can be a good thing. Instead of causing discouragement, a lack of emotion is like a clear canvas awaiting a masterpiece. It is an opportunity that holds great possibilities!

Upon the very canvas of our souls, God can paint our souls with His own emotions and thoughts. All we need to do is ask Him what He is feeling and thinking, and to allow us to feel these emotions as well.

What a beautiful thing! His excitement, delight and other emotions about us and the events of our lives are far deeper, fuller and more alive than any human feelings we could ever have!

Perhaps this is why God allows us to experience seasons where we do not feel as deeply if at all. Now, if we are open to it, He can give us something higher instead–His own thoughts and feelings, His very heart.

My perspective has shifted completely and I pray this revelation shifts yours as you read this. Is this not yet another way He turns ashes to beauty? Our Abba is beyond amazing.

“…He will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair…” Isaiah 61:3 (NLT)

Renewing Your Mind in God’s Word

The journey of renewing our minds is a process. It doesn’t occur in a moment or two. It takes consistent, season-after-season moments with Jesus. Nonetheless, it is one of the most beautiful parts of our journey with Him.

Spending time renewing our minds in God’s Word helps us grow in faith, hope and love. As we grow closer to God through His Word, we will experience transformation. And we all need and desire that in areas of our lives which need what only Father God can provide: True identity, perfect love and freedom from fear.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
Romans 12:1-2 (NKJV)

Our Father wants to repair every wrong mindset and remove every lie. He wants to transform our perspective toward ourselves, others and the world. He even wants to help us not be led by our emotions. This comes through time spent with Him in worship, prayer, and meditating on His Word.

What is meditation on the Word? This type of meditation is not like the kind of meditating the world and other spiritualities call it. Campbell McAlpine says,

“Meditation is the devotional practice of pondering the words of a verse . . . of Scripture, with a receptive heart, allowing the Holy Spirit to take the written Word and apply it as the living Word to the inner being.” 
– Campbell McAlpine

Would you like to have a mind more renewed in God’s Word? Do you need peace in your life, freedom from fear and anxiety, an attitude adjustment, or other things? I know I do! And thankfully, Christ has all this and more waiting for us.
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