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Becoming All God Created You to Be

“This is your life. Are you who you want to be?”  Switchfoot

The only way to live an authentic life is first to take time and focus on yourself. If you’re not healthy spiritually, physically, emotionally, and relationally, how can you move beyond yourself and invest in others? At first glance, this may hit you as a bit self-centered, another excuse for self-absorption in a me-first culture. Like anything taken to an extreme, self-care can become a license to never grow beyond ourselves and our needs. Yet, loving ourselves is a biblical command. Jesus Himself said this in identifying the greatest commandment. “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. The second most important is similar: ‘Love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.’” (Matthew. 22:37-39, TLB) Most of us understand that we are to love God first and that we are to love our neighbor, but we miss the last part of this message: we are to love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves. Jesus indicated that, before we can really love others and make a difference in their lives, we have to first love ourselves. Continue reading “Becoming All God Created You to Be” »

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The Power to Change

“You formed us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in You.”  Saint Augustine

People who know their lives will soon be over tend to feel a desperate urge to change. But desperation to change is not enough. In order to sustain the changes, we have to be connected to a power source beyond ourselves. We have to move from willpower to the real power that comes from a connection to our Creator. If you have come to the end of yourself and are exhausted from trying to control your life, Jesus offers you the invitation of a lifetime:

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burnt out on religion? Come to Me.
Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to
take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me – watch how I do it.
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.”  Matthew 11:28-29, MSG

The Bible consistently reveals that humans are created in God’s image and that we have an eternal part of us – our spirits. It’s the most important part of our lives because everything else hinges on it. We were created as spiritual beings and, to develop spiritual energy, we have to cultivate a healthy connection to our Creator. If you are connected to your Creator, you will grow like you’ve never grown before, and you’ll experience real power to make lasting changes.

Just as a branch bears fruit out of its connection to the vine, Jesus says our lives will be fruitful if we remain connected to Him. We are the branch and He is the vine. As His power and life flows through us, we are able to bear much fruit. The branch by itself cannot produce life; it can only draw life from the vine. As strange as it may sound, it’s not up to you to produce the results. You’re not responsible for producing fruit; Jesus is. You don’t have to sweat and strive, work harder, or discipline yourself to be more spiritual through sheer willpower. When you realize this truth, it’s incredibly liberating!

All we have to do – our only role – is to be the branch and connect to the vine. If we are connected to the vine, we’ll be spiritually healthy and be filled with His energy. Relying on Him will reduce our stress and allow us the freedom to be fully engaged in life.

So, how do you stay connected to the vine?

1. Constant communication. We maintain this connection through conversational prayer. When you wake up in the morning, it’s vital to start your day off right by just talking to God. Then, keep the conversation going throughout the rest of your day. This is called practicing the presence of God and will keep you connected to Him.

2. Constant confession. This doesn’t mean you have to seek out your pastor, priest, or minister and tell him your latest dirt. It also doesn’t involve beating yourself up and feeling bad for a set period of time. No, it’s really just another dimension of your ongoing conversation with God throughout the day. When you become aware of something you shouldn’t have said or done, just confess it and move on. Confession is agreeing with God that our way was wrong, and repentance is deciding to go God’s way and trust His power.

Communication and confession will keep us connected to the ultimate power source – the vine. This is the key for moving from willpower to real power. Resolutions and commitments are useless when we rely on our willpower. You may be able to keep them for a while but, eventually, your own power won’t be enough. You move from willpower to His power by staying connected.

Personal Challenge:

1. Have you ever truly connected to your Creator? Respond now to Jesus’ invitation to come to Him. ( Matthew 11:28-29) Offer Him your life in exchange for the life He intended for you. Then, you will experience His real power in your life.

2. Begin to practice a life of constant communication and confession. It will make a difference in your daily life.

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Restoring Passion

For some of you, the last six months have seemed like the longest six months of your life because you have no energy and no passion for life.  Maybe you feel as if you’re simply going through the motions, listless and discontent, wondering if this is all life has to offer. Jeremiah once expressed this feeling when he said, We have no more joy in our hearts; our dancing has turned to sadness.” Lam. 5:15 (NCV)

We’ve all experienced seasons in our lives when time seemed to grind by as we watched the clock, willing the seconds to pass forever. On the other hand, you can probably recall times when the hours flew by. Think about those occasions when you lost all sense of time and felt entirely caught up in the present moment, immersed in the activity at hand or enjoying the people around you. What makes the difference? Why do some days feel so much more meaningful than others? How can we be fully engaged with the present and not get trapped by the past or paralyzed by the future? Continue reading “Restoring Passion” »

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Someday is Now

The Psalmist prayed, So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” Psalm 90:12 (KJV) Is it just me or does time seem to speed up when you hit middle age? Years begin to pass like days.  When I was much younger, I remember how time sort of dragged on; I would often wonder when school would let out so I could play and do the things I wanted to do. Now, it seems to fly by me like a comet, leaving me wondering what I did with my time.  Sounds depressing, doesn’t it? But, instead of limiting us, our mortality can consistently remind us to be all we were made to be.

Often, we’re tempted to play it safe and settle for far less than we were made for. I know so many people whose favorite day of the week is Someday. Countless people in every stage of life say, “Someday I’m going to go for all that life has to offer.”  “When I retire, then I’m going to enjoy life.” “Someday I’m really going to live for God and get my act together.  I’ll start loving my family better.” “When I make enough money, then I’m really going to spend more time with my kids.” “Someday when my schedule slows down, then I’m going to get involved at church.”  “When I have more time, then I’ll focus on being more spiritual.”

Someday. One day. When. If…then. When are we going to wake up and realize this is life? Continue reading “Someday is Now” »

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A Journey of Lent

If you’ve ever participated in an Ash Wednesday service, you understand that the ashes are a symbol of our mortality. From dust we came and unto dust we shall return.  That’s a sobering reminder, isn’t it? The fact is that your time on earth is limited. Job 14:5 says, “Man’s days are determined; You have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed.”

No matter how much this idea makes you squirm, it’s a fact. No matter who you are, how young or old, what measure of success you’ve attained, or where you live, mortality remains the great equalizer.  With each tick of the clock, a moment of your life is behind you. Even as you read this paragraph, seconds passed that you can never regain.  Your days are numbered, and each one that passes is gone forever.  Continue reading “A Journey of Lent” »