The thoughts and writings of Jeremy Keegan. You can follow or contact me on Twitter @JeremyKeegan

1st August 2014

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How to Keep Youth From Abandoning Their Faith In College

My wife found this article and sent it to me, and it’s really insightful and on point in my opinion: ARTICLE.

Please read the article for the full info, but here’s the premise of it - of the kids that grow up in church, they fall into 2 camps when they get to college: the ones who are still Christians and the ones who completely abandon it. While teenagers, they seem to be the same - great attendance of youth events, church and Sunday school, etc.; all around good kids. So what are the REAL differences in the kids who continue on in their Christianity after high school?

  1. They are converted. (not just “good kids” but literally their life has been changed into a new creation, as it says in the Bible.
  2. They have been equipped, not [just] entertained. They didn’t just have a good time and eat lots of pizza. They know their Bible, can talk to others about their faith, and know why they believe.
  3. Their parents preached the gospel to them. Those kids didn’t just show up once or twice a week to get their dose of Christianity - they had parents living it, preaching it, showing it, encouraging it at home too.

As someone who was involved in teaching youth in a church previously, and also as a parent of two children, this is near and dear to me. I think these are great points. These can help bring better focus to youth workers and (probably more importantly) parents.

We have to make it not just our faith that they go along with, but genuinely THEIR faith.

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17th July 2014

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The Power of Your Story

I’m continually surprised, but shouldn’t be by now, at how it often takes repetition for something to sink in with me in a profound way. I’ve heard the radio commercial by The Partnership for Drug-free Kids many times, but yesterday when I heard the tagline, it struck me profoundly. They’ve started an archive called “Stories of Hope.” And in the radio advertisement for it, they say this:

Your story can change someone else’s.

Not that this never made sense to me before, but for the first time I think I realized just how true that statement is. Your story can literally change someone else’s life - if it’s shared.

Isn’t this the foundational thing God did for us? He shared His story with us in such a way that it changes our story. Without Him, we lack identity, we lack purpose, we lack eternal perspective. We would just be left wondering “Why?”

But God shared His story with us, and related it to us in a way we could understand, and in a way we could use to change our stories for the better as well. It’s a story about undying love, forgiveness, grace, sacrifice, family, and restoration. Without God’s story, we don’t know that we’ve been adopted into His family through Jesus - and when we know that, it changes our story. We’re not galactic question marks, wondering how we got here or what it’s all about - we’re created by God, and are heirs to the throne.

Without knowing about grace and forgiveness and love the we can never be separated from - we’re bullied by the evil in this world. But now that we know God’s story, we know that evil is temporary and defeated. We will exist beyond it. We see brokenness that now makes sense - because yes it’s broken, but it’s being restored too. And we know why it’s broken - sin. And we know how it is all able to be renewed - Jesus.

God shared His story with us, and it utterly changes everything about our stories. And what they said is true - YOUR story can change someone else’s also. Sharing your story really does affect other people. It gives them new perspectives, allows them to know they’re not alone, not different, not misunderstood. We’re all part of a bigger story.

I like to share stories. I like to talk to people about my life and theirs. But I don’t think I realized how deep an impact my story could have on someone else’s. And I’m not talking necessarily about my “life testimony” - it can be parts of your story that matter at the time that you share.
I struggled with alcohol for some time, and finally got control of my life. I often supposed that there was little value that came from that time of my life - until I found myself sharing that part of my story with another guy one July evening. And it changed his story.

Our stories are powerful. In the same way that we reflect God’s image, our stories reflect the power of His story. Don’t be afraid to share your story. It can change someone else’s life.

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25th June 2014

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The Miracle That Happens After Giving Thanks

How many times a day would you say the average American thinks something like “I would be happier if I had….” Because of the media assault that plagues us every day, we have become convinced that we won’t be happy until we have more stuff. There’s a very effective way of defeating this mentality, and it’s super easy.

In Matthew 15:36-37 we find Jesus’ example of what to do:

Then he took the seven loaves and the fish, and when he had given thanks, he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and they in turn to the people. They all ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.

The disciples looked around, took a quick survey, did some simple math and knew that seven loaves of bread and a couple fish wouldn’t feed 10,000 people. (It was 4,000 men, plus women and children) There was NO WAY that was going to be enough.

Jesus took what they had, which didn’t seem like it would be enough, gave thanks for what they did have, and in the end the disciples discovered that they had not only enough - but more than enough.

Now, this was truly a miracle done by Jesus, and in that respect it doesn’t correlate perfectly to our every day lives. Jesus doesn’t typically multiply our food in that amount so that we can see that time of result in our lives. But the principle and the example He set forth does hold true for us today.

The key thing He did that transformed the situation was GIVING THANKS.

What can giving thanks do in our lives? One of the biggest things it does is change our perspective. It opens our eyes. So often we look at the world around us and do some fast, haphazard math and think, “I definitely don’t have enough to be happy.” And sometimes we don’t even do the math ourselves - sometimes we just hear a commercial tell us that and we believe it. Or we see a friend buying lots of things and he seems happier, so we believe it would be the same for us.

I am a numbers guy - anyone who knows me will tell you I’m highly analytical. I don’t make assumptions or do fast, haphazard math when it comes to my family’s finances, or when I’m estimating costs for building a new house. Sometimes I have to ballpark something spur of the moment - and when I go back to really go through the numbers with a fine-tooth comb, I always find I was off from what I assumed.

The same is true in our lives regarding material things, and daily blessings. When we’re not paying attention, sure, we take a quick look around, compare our life to someone else’s and rashly think “there’s not enough.” But when we practice the spiritual discipline of giving thanks daily, it’s like sitting down with the calculator and going through the financial books slowly. We begin to see way more than we initially thought was there.

Giving thanks is not easy at first. For the first few weeks, you might struggle to even come up with one thing you’re thankful for each day. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s true because we’re not skilled at seeing blessings in our lives. It takes a while to build that skill up. And once you do, you’ll be hard pressed to stop writing down all the things you’re thankful for every day. Once you train your eyes to truly see what’s around you, you’ll be amazed at how much blessing you really have in your life that you were unaware of before.

When we become more thankful, we become more content. We don’t feel like we need as much because we finally realize we have more already. It changes our perspective, and in turn changes our life.

Since I began being more thankful about 3 years ago, I have been able to deal with so many difficulties in life so much better. I’ve dealt with death, job loss, financial instability, relational crisis, illness - you name it. What I’m not saying is that these things are easy to deal with if you practice giving thanks. But it really gives you a better perspective on how life works, and you deal well with the struggles of life when you see blessings all around you - especially blessings in the midst of strife.

This is the miracle Jesus performed that day when He gave thanks and people received more sustenance than they could have imagined. And this is the miracle that occurs in us when we give thanks, and feel so much more satisfied and fulfilled than we could have imagined.

We don’t get richer by getting more stuff, but by seeing more things around us that help us realize how rich we already are.

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24th June 2014

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God’s Kindness Vs. Wrath

One of the things I’ve seen people struggle with over the years is the conflict between the idea of a wrathful God and a God who loves everyone and wants to save everyone. See 2 Peter 3:9 - he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

I was reading Romans 2 the other day when this verse jumped out at me - Romans 2:4-5:

Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.

The title of Paul’s passage in the NIV is “God’s Righteous Judgment.” He’s trying to explain how the judgment that so many people consider angry wrath can be righteous. I recently discussed how God is able to judge us in His holiness, and how when we judge others it’s self-condemning.

There are two key points I want to highlight in this passage. First is, “God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance.” I think there has at times been confusion as to  what particular aspects of God are to be used in evangelism, or the process of a person coming into relationship with God. It makes sense that some people have a hard time with that when what they’re presented with as a “convincing reason” is because you want to avoid God’s wrath. It’s the whole “it’s time to turn so you don’t burn” argument. Paul is saying here that wrath is not what God uses to lead people to repentance - it’s kindness. And that makes so much more sense, and it’s not only more appealing, but it’s more what people who are contemplating repentance need.

If you are trying to get your son or daughter to come to terms with some bad behavior they’ve exhibited and have a heart-changing moment with them - if you wanted a good result, would you approach them with wrath or kindness? Kindness is what they need - a gentle, non-angry, understanding approach. I know there have been people who have used the fire and brimstone threat in what they would call a successful manner - but I would question what they actually accomplished in the end. They may have lead people to God, but did they lead them to Him in fear - and did that ever turn into the growing, solid relationship that God desires? Here Paul says that God’s kindness is intended to lead people to repentance, so I think it’s a good thing to remember as we are interacting with people who are in that stage of seeking.

The second interesting thing here is that Paul says “you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath.” It’s a very different concept from what we’re used to thinking. I know it’s not an uncommon thought for me to picture God day-by-day just thinking something like this: “OK, that was wrong, but I’m not going to do anything about it right now, but just you wait until Judgment Day…” I have often thought that HE is storing up a bunch of wrath for US. Here Paul says WE are the ones storing up the wrath for OURSELVES. It will be God that mete’s it out, but we’re the ones doing the damage.

This makes more sense to me - not that God is just getting angrier and angrier (as if we could influence Him in any way) - but that we are making our own bed that we will one day have to lay in. This goes with another idea that I’ve talked about before - that God doesn’t just get mad and send people to Hell. This is obviously a way of thinking about God that many people have a hard time with - because it contradicts what we know about God (being loving, etc.). But tied in with free will, God has chosen to allow us to choose our own path - either to be with God now and forever, or to be apart from God now and forever. But it’s OUR choice whether or not we choose that separation in Hell - not so much Him just blowing up and putting someone in eternal, tormenting timeout. He allows us to choose - do you want to be with Him, or without Him?

We store up wrath for ourselves. Even Christians store up wrath for themselves - but by God’s grace, Jesus has already born our wrath upon Himself so that on Judgment Day we won’t have the wrath we deserve inflicted upon us.

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20th June 2014

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Be Quick to Reconcile

We’re all imperfect. We say things we later regret, we let our emotions get out of control, we speak words that hurt others. It happens, and it will continue to happen.

I remember the first time I really saw something I said hurt someone. It was in high school and it was my best friend’s sister. She was having a hard time with a breakup and I made a verbal stab at the situation, thinking she’d find it funny. She did not. In fact, she was really upset. Being 16 or however old I was at the time, I had a lot of pride and cockiness, so I initially brushed it off. I didn’t care. But I did. His sister was a friend, and I felt horrible that I’d hurt her. I didn’t see her for a day or two, but the next time I did, I think it was at a basketball game. I walked right up to her, took off my hat, and apologized.

That was a defining moment for me in two ways. I would go on to say other things that hurt people, but I would recognize it each time, and know what I had to do. It didn’t help me not blow people up verbally once in a while - but it helped me know what to do when I did. I needed to be quick to confess my wrongdoing, and apologize sincerely. It’s part of who I am now.

As you might imagine, this also became part of the culture of my marriage. When we were younger, I was still kind of young and brash, and would bring my wife to tears occasionally. Oftentimes I didn’t even realize what I said would be hurtful, but I learned eventually what I should and shouldn’t say to/about her. But every time I saw that I had hurt her feelings, I made it a priority to quickly, and sincerely apologize.

I’ve had to incorporate this professionally as well. It was more than once that I had to apologize to a coworker - but I always did.

In Matthew 5:23-24, Jesus says:

Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you,leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

In the Jewish culture, the offerings the brought to the altar were of high importance. It was how they connected in a more tangible way with God at that time. Jesus is saying that reconciliation is of the utmost importance - so much so that you should delay all other activities, no matter how important, until reconciliation it achieved. GO to them and be reconciled.

Forget your pride, or your sense of fairness regarding something they might have done - just get it all out of the way and go be reconciled.

Why?

At the core of this world’s existence and history is a wedge that was driven between two parties. In Genesis 3, Satan helped drive an eternal wedge between God and man, an irreconcilable gap forever separating the two. But this was never God’s intention. God wanted nothing but harmony and relationship with men and women. That’s why he reconciled the irreconcilable by sending Jesus to bear God’s wrath for sin in our place.

God’s business has always been about wholeness, harmony, relationship, love, redemption, creation. As His followers, these are the things we should be about too. When we drive a spike into a relationship with someone else, we’re doing damage, bringing discord, hurting the relationship. It’s counter to God’s purpose for us, and so Jesus here encourages us to be quick to reconcile. Go apologize, and reestablish harmony and wholeness.

I am happy to say that I’ve gotten better over the last 20 years at keeping my mouth shut when I’m angry, and knowing what things will be hurtful and choosing not to say them. I didn’t say I was perfect, just better. I have to seek reconciliation much less frequently - but every time I do, I am quick to do it.

Don’t let time pass when there’s a wound, because it will only cause it to grow and become more agitated. The quicker you apologize, the more willing the offended person will be to forgive you. We make mistakes - but don’t let it snowball into something big. Nip it in the bud, swallow your pride, hold your hat in your hand, look them in the eye and say “I’m sorry.”

Once you do, you won’t be eaten up inside about it anymore, and you can get on with life. They may or may not forgive you, but it allows you to move on, and you know you’ve tried to be part of God’s plan.

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13th June 2014

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Why Judgment Is Self-Condemnation

I’ve been having a lot of experiences just like this lately: I read a passage that I’ve read a lot in the past - one that you almost get the first three words and you think “Oh yeah, I remember this one” and you skim the rest because you know it - but this time I do a double-take and see something I never noticed before. That’s been happening a lot to me recently. Part of why I am in favor of reading the Bible over and over. 

Well, this time it happened in Romans 2:1 

"You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things."

In chapter 1 or Romans, Paul describes to the Jews that, yes indeed, the world of the Gentiles is full of sin. But here in chapter 2, he says, ah, but so is the world of the Jews, and equally so. You do the same things they do. You’re the SAME. You have no excuse because you do the very things you point the finger at in them. “They’re such liars!” Yep, so are you. “They don’t read their Bible and pray!” Neither do you. “They said something mean!” Really…? I once heard it said that you condemn with the highest level of harshness what you see in others that is most present in yourself.  So, if you always are cracking on people who you perceive as lazy, it might just be because you have a laziness problem yourself. Not saying it’s true, just saying I heard it said once…

As humans, we are prone to be not only judges, but severe judges of our fellow man quite often. On a positive note, we are reflections of our Maker, who is the ultimate Judge, so it’s natural that we examine others and want to render judgment. But we often take it too far and we’re highly critical of lots of people, and without considering their side or the facts. Think about how you judge people who cut you off in traffic, or who bump you in line at the supermarket. We can’t HELP but judge people, and it’s quick, decisive, and almost always harsh. “He’s such a __________.” “Wow, what a ___________.” It spills forth with no hesitation, and with little thought and consideration.

But why are we condemning ourselves when we judge other people? You condemn yourself because you are judging a human and you ARE one. We’re condemning others for things we’re guilty of. We all have the human sinful nature and we all repeatedly sin against God, and we’re all in this together. Romans 3:12 reflects what the Old Testament declared:

All have turned away,
    they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
    not even one.

Only God is fit to judge humans with no risk of condemnation because only God is without sin. He is the only being around who can look at our rebellion from a perspective of holiness. When He’s pointing the finger at us, there aren’t three pointing back at Him - they’re all four pointing at us. And rightly so.

I always read this passage as basic meaning = don’t judge others cause it’s bad.

But I now see not only that it’s bad, but that I literally can never be in a position to judge anyone else because I’m guilty of the same things. (and for those who think they’re not guilty of the same things as most others, read Matthew 6). Nobody can judge, except God.

Nobody is better than anybody else. We are all woefully bad off without God’s intervening love and grace, and Jesus’ salvation. On the one hand, it’s a bummer because I can’t judge all the people I’d like to. On the other hand, it’s wonderful to know we’re all in this together and God loves us all and forgives us all equally.

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12th June 2014

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The Cell Rule of Optina

I’ve been doing some various Bible-reading plans this year and I was ready for a longer one, but not quite the entire Bible. I often use my YouVersion app to find new ones, and I recently came across The Cell Rule of Optina reading plan.

It’s an 89-day reading plan, and it comes from a group of Eastern Orthodox monks from the Optina Hermitage monastery in Russia. Now, those guys have some insanely involved daily spiritual habits (like saying 500 prayers a day), and I’m not currently interested in that level of devoutness. But they also read the New Testament in the following way:

"One chapter from the Gospel in order, beginning first with the Gospel of Matthew, to the last chapter of the Gospel of John, and two chapters from the Epistle, likewise in order, beginning with the Acts of the holy Apostles and ending with the last chapter of the Apocalypse of Saint John the Theologian. The last seven chapters of the Apocalypse are read one a day. In this way the last chapter is read on exactly the same day as the last chapter of the Gospel of John."

So, I’m reading one chapter of Matthew and two chapters of Acts each day right now. I think today was my fourth day and I’m really enjoying it. I’ve never read the Gospel and the rest of the NT in a juxtaposition like this. But I’m all for reading the Bible in different ways in an attempt to gain new insights and perspectives.

If you’d like to try this plan, you can check it out HERE.

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11th June 2014

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Reading The Bible - Chemo For Your Spiritual Cancer

I came across this in my devotions recently and it really struck me as a good reminder for why I need to read the Bible every day. I had to share:

You are reading out of desperation for the effects of this heavenly medicine. Bible-reading is not a cure for a bad conscience; it’s chemo for your cancer. Legalists feel better because the box is checked. Saints feel better when their blindness lifts, and they see Jesus in the word. Let’s get real. We are desperately sick with worldliness, and only the Holy Spirit, by the word of God, can cure this terminal disease.

Do not think you are getting no good from the Bible, merely because you do not see that good day by day. The greatest effects are by no means those which make the most noise, and are most easily observed. The greatest effects are often silent, quiet, and hard to detect at the time they are being produced.

Think of the influence of the moon upon the earth, and of the air upon the human lungs. Remember how silently the dew falls, and how imperceptibly the grass grows. There may be far more doing than you think in your soul by your Bible-reading.”

- J.C. Ryle, Practical Religion

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6th June 2014

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Lean Not On Your Own Understanding

Earlier this week I acknowledged I was in the middle of a difficult situation. The situation was trying to decide whether or not to accept a job offer doing one thing, versus a different job offer. There were pros and cons to each, but it felt impossible to choose.

One of the scriptures I mentioned I had been relying on and praying each day is Proverbs 3:5-6. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

I had been going back and forth trying to negotiate this deal, and I got the final response back last night. It wasn’t what I had hoped for, and I had already convinced myself that if it wasn’t, I’d do the other option. So, when I saw the final response/offer, I immediately started feeling like, “well, that’s that then.” 

But once I had a few minutes to begin letting it all sink in and reflect on it, almost the first clear thought that passed through my head was "lean not on your own understanding - trust in the Lord.

My OWN understanding, which would be a simple, human point of view would have told me to walk away from this opportunity. But all along I’ve felt there is more to this than I could really see or spell out. And when it was finally brought to a head, what came flying back to me? - don’t go with your way of thinking on this, trust God.

Honestly, there’s a TON more detail in this as far as what the options were and why one was better than the other that I just can’t get into. Nor is it worth it. But I can say that although I have had a history of trusting God to direct my path for years now, this is the first time I think I’ve really been asked to trust Him, even when my own understanding doesn’t necessarily go along with it.

It’s kind of a scary position to be in. You begin to think - what if that was MY thought, not God speaking to me, and what if I’m wrong? And please don’t confuse me here - just because a thought goes through your head at the right moment, doesn’t mean it’s God speaking. But I think if we’ve cultivated a relationship with Him in which we are actively listening for Him to speak, I think that He can and will and does.

How can we keep from “getting burnt” though? We confirm it with those around us. I never make a big life decision that my wife also doesn’t agree with. We established that in our marriage early on that we would have kind of a dual method of knowing what’s the right thing to do - if we feel God’s leading (either through things lining up, or a word from a friend, etc.), AND if both of us also feel it’s the right thing to do.

It’s not always easy - there have been things I was chomping at the bit to do that my wife wasn’t digging, and I refrained - because when it comes to the most important life decisions (buying a house/car, choosing a church, accepting a job, having kids, etc.) - if we’re both not on board, we take that as a type of confirmation that we shouldn’t do it.

In this case, we felt all signs were pointing this way, and we finally both felt good about it as well. (we also still have a decent back up plan just in case it doesn’t work out long term - nothing wrong with that!)

I’ve read that verse so many times - lean not on your own understanding… But most of the time I understand what to do, even if I feel God leading. But this was one of the first times I really felt a little challenged by God to truly trust in Him, lean on Him and not myself. Hard to do, but I think it’s going to be worth it.

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6th June 2014

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"What matters is unwrapping the hushed answer, the Word to all the questions." - Ann Voskamp
— Find more HERE.

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5th June 2014

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Nourishment To Your Bones

I’m deep in the throes of a major life decision. For days now I’ve been clinging to several passages of Scripture (Proverbs 3:5-6; Philippians 4:6-7; Psalm 143:7-8; 2 Thessalonians 2:15-17) as we’ve struggled through much emotion and uncertainty. I feel like it’s all coming to a climax soon, possibly even today, and so I came again to Proverbs 3:5-6 this morning.

As my mind searched for meaning on the page, my eyes drifted on in search of something as well. I came to the next two verses, Proverbs 3:7-8.

Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. This will bring health to your body and nourishment to your bones.

This touched a different area of focus in my life recently, namely that I had been slacking off in my spiritual disciplines for some time now. Within the last month I’ve been coming back around, and I find this to be wholly true.

Keep yourself in check, fear the Lord, and shun evil. Do these three things and you will receive health and nourishment in your body, down to the bones. When I’m far away from God - regularly neglecting my connections to Him through reading the Bible, prayer, and giving thanks - I feel ill inside. Things seem more frustrating, more cloudy, harder to figure out.

Shunning evil - getting my flesh back under control, coming back to the Source of living water - it brings health to us, body and soul. The spiritual disciplines of daily (or more often!) reading the Bible, praying, and giving thanks bring much needed nourishment to us, and we feel it deep down in our bones. It’s life-giving nourishment, bringing us back from the state of spiritual malady we’ve been in.

Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

Everything we do is connected to the heart, and whatever state the heart is in will affect all that we do. So if we want to be at the top of our game for decision making, life living, wisdom, grace, and enjoying life to the fullest - we much seek out what will bring health to our bodies and nourishment to our bones.

John 6:35, “Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

We all find ourselves in a state of spiritual malady at times. We haven’t been as disciplined, as connected, as nourished as we want to be. To be revived, shun the evil that’s crept up in your life, return God to the proper place in your life, and you will receive it. Down to your bones. 

The one thing I’m so thankful for right now is that if I had not recently returned to my spiritual disciplines, and had not received spiritual nourishment, I would be doing much worse currently. Even though there is stress and uncertainty abounding, I have peace in my heart, and I have never gotten frantic or really worried. I have received helpful insight and am fully confident in God for the results.

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27th May 2014

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The Most Profound Difference God Makes

It feels like I’ve been struggling with big life decisions for years now. Actually it hasn’t even been an entire year yet - but we’re coming up on the anniversary of when I got let go from my job of seven years. Ever since then it’s felt like being lost at sea in a little dingy. If job security is land, I haven’t seen land in a long, long time.

 I think I’ve done relatively well handling the stress and uncertainty, but I haven’t reached land yet. I think at this point, I might be able to see land though…

Recently my soul was craving nourishment. I hadn’t been doing a good job of giving sustenance to myself through the Bible, thanksgiving and prayer, so I’m working to rebuild those habits in my life. Doesn’t really matter that it’s a stressful time - we need those three things even in good times, but I was feeling a little soul-starved, so I sat down at the table to take sustenance.

I first heard James MacDonald do an entire teaching series many years ago, and I really got a lot out of it. I’ve been reading a few smaller devotions by him recently and came across this:

"In the end, God’s greatest provision for Moses’ or my or your sense of inadequacy is simply and profoundly His presence with us.”

What I’ve been struggling with is an opportunity in front of me that I’m afraid of. It’s a good opportunity, and may end up being the very land that I’ve been seeking for so long. But I feel wholly unprepared and ill-equipped for it, and I have a lot of anxiety about it. Kinda like Moses had when God asked him to go speak to Pharaoh for the nation of Israel.

Moses’ response was to say, “I can’t. I’m no good at that.” I’m struggling with that same argument inside. In Exodus 3:11 he says, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh?” That’s a universal question we all ask in our times of weakness - “Who am I that I should be doing this? What if I’m not the right person for the job? What if I royally screw things up?”

God’s response to Moses was: "I WILL BE WITH YOU.

He doesn’t say, “Actually you ARE perfectly suited for this job and you’ll do great!” He just promises to be with Moses through it all. Moses feels inadequate, God promises to be there the whole time. How does this help? What difference does God’s presence in our lives make when we’re nervous and scared and doubtful?

God’s presence reminds us that we’re not alone. It’s not us versus the world. It’s us and God taking part in His plan. He knows far more about what He’s calling us to than we do. We can trust Him when we doubt ourselves. I have enough life experience at this point to have seen God truly get me through things I thought were impossible. His presence with me is a reminder of that power and I can be encouraged in this similar situation.

His presence also helps me remember to rely on Him and that I can’t do this myself. It takes a lot of the pressure off of me too when I don’t think it’s all me, all by myself. James MacDonald made another great point - God has never failed to provide wisdom or strength to get through something when he prayed and asked for it. But he has failed to pray for things and struggled as a result. God’s presence is a reminder of His faith in US, and where we can draw strength and wisdom from to do what He’s calling us to do, even when we doubt ourselves.

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15th May 2014

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When Making Big Decisions in Life…

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
Bible.com/app

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8th May 2014

Quote with 1 note

Would you have a great empire? Rule over yourself.
— PUBLILIUS SYRUS

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21st February 2014

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NOAH: Dark, Complicated Character.

I have said for a long time that there are so many great movies just waiting to be made from the Bible, finally they’re starting to catch on! There’s a new movie coming out next month, entitled “Noah.” This looks like perhaps the first really big ticket movie based on the Bible. Directed by Darren Aronofsky(Black Swan, The Wrestler), and starring Emma Watson, Anthony Hopkins, and the very amazing Russell Crowe playing Noah. It even has… wait for it… Nick Nolte! 

Now, this isn’t being remotely touted as a “Christian” movie. So, those of you who were hoping for an OT movie similar to Fireproof - you probably want to skip this one. Those of you who think Gladiator is one of the best movies ever, please proceed to the ticket counter now. 

That being said, I had a very interesting insight into the actual Bible tonight, via this movie. And here’s how. I saw the trailer on TV and wanted to know more, so I went to the IMDb app on my phone. In the trivia section, I found this:

Darren Aronofsky had been fascinated with the character of Noah since childhood, seeing him as a “a dark, complicated character who experiences real survivor’s guilt”.

Please open your Bibles to Genesis chapter 9, verses 20-23. To set the stage for this passage, the flood is over, the water’s gone, the rainbow is in the sky, and life is all happy once again. And we pick up the story of Noah with… 

Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded[a] to plant a vineyard. When he drank some of its wine, he became drunk and lay uncovered inside his tent. Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father naked and told his two brothers outside. But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders; then they walked in backward and covered their father’s naked body. Their faces were turned the other way so that they would not see their father naked.

Do what?

Noah is drunk and passed out naked in his tent? I don’t get it. In fact, this is a part of the Bible I’ve been intrigued with for a long time because I’ve never understood it. First, why was he like this? Second, why would God put this in the Bible? 

Tonight, while perusing the trivia section of IMDb regarding the Noah movie, it hit me when I read these words: “…experiences real survivor’s guilt.” Mind = blown.

Think about what Noah likely saw from the boat as the waters rose. (this might be depicted in the movie, I’m not sure…) People were dying, and not in the very passive and silent way that some Biblical pictures in children’s Bibles might suggest. They were likely shrieking, and gasping for air, and animals were likely making horrible noises too. There were probably some people visible that he’d been friends with at one point. There were women and children. It was a deeply, disturbingly traumatic experience for someone to go through.

I believe God called Noah for the purpose he served, and granted him strength to get through those 40 days - for the overall good of the earth, mankind, etc. Noah had an enormous task to accomplish, and thankfully he did just that. 

But just like what happens to modern man when he goes through a traumatic experience - once the adrenalin wears off, and the moment’s over, you throw up and start shaking. The emotions are allowed to finally take root, and you relive it over and over, and it overwhelms you for a while. People need therapy and lots of support from friends and family. And yes, sometimes people cope by getting drunk. 

Noah got drunk, and passed out. That’s IN the Bible. It happened. And now, perhaps, I know why. Or at least there’s a potential good reason for it to have happened. 

And I think God put it in the Bible to show several things. First, for anyone who’s ever read that story and thought, how could Noah and his family simply just move on? Maybe they didn’t - maybe it WAS hard, and they did have survivor’s remorse, and guilt, and anger over the whole thing. They were real people with real emotions, and I think it’s pointed to in Genesis 9. 

Also, as man was made in God’s image, I think it could be a reflection of the pain God felt after it happened to. Not that He regretted it, or made a bad decision - this leads into a MUCH larger and tangent discussion that I won’t get into now; suffice it to say that I believe that somehow it was for ultimate good, since God did it. But that He wasn’t just immune to it or callous to it. He cared too, and He put Noah’s struggle in there - just those few verses - to maybe hint that what man felt in those days, God also felt in His own way. 

Now, I’m making a lot of assumptions, based off of a snippet of trivia on IMDb. I realize it’s not exactly perfect hermeneutics. But more about that part of the Bible seems to make sense to me now, and I’m glad.

I’ll be watching the Noah movie for sure - but not with my wife, because she hates sad movies. Spoiler alert: most of the people in that movie WILL die in the end.  

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