Archive | February 2011

What Drives Your Love For GOD?

We may base our relationship with God on what God can do for us. We need God to protect, heal, guide, provide, get us through, open doors, close doors, answer questions and way too often,…give us things. This kind of relationship thrives on need. The greater the need, the greater our desire is for God. But when the need subsides then our relationship with God also subsides.

So love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength.—Deuteronomy 6:5 (AAJE)

God wants our relationship with Him to be based not on what we want from Him, but rather on mutual love. The greatest command is to love the Lord with every part of ourselves. When we love God for who He is, we have the basis for a relationship that will be filled with wonder and joy. Do you love the Lord regardless of what He can do for you?

 

“The Lord, has prepared a place for us,
…and now He’s preparing us for that place.”

How to Be Your Own Best Friend

Many people spend years waiting for a soul mate to make them feel complete. Others settle for unfulfilling relationships out of fear of being alone. I believe we should fulfill our potential in life, with or without partners. Instead of expecting someone else to complete you, mastering the art of aloneness gives you mastery of your own life. 
When you strengthen your relationship to yourself, you can develop greater self-esteem, personal fulfillment, and financial security. Here are eleven steps you can take to help develop the self-awareness and life skills needed to live a full, happy, successful, and financially secure life—whether you’re living it alone or with someone else.

Master the Art of Living Solo

1) Learn About and Develop Who You Are

2) Become Self-sufficient

3) Live Life by Deliberate Intention

4) Manage Fear so it Doesn’t Manage You 

5) Become the Partner You Seek 

6) Develop Effective Communication Skills 

7) Build an Inner Support System 

8) Develop an Outer Support System 

9) Take Financial Control

10) Do Work You Love and in Which You Can Excel

11) Create and Live Your Ideal Life

This article was written by Lauren Mackler

Overcoming Passivity

When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it roams through waterless places in search [of a place] of rest (release, refreshment, ease); and finding none it says, I will go back to my house from which I came. And when it arrives, it finds [the place] swept and put in order and furnished and decorated. And it goes and brings other spirits, seven [of them], more evil than itself, and they enter in, settle down, and dwell there; and the last state of that person is worse than the first.—Luke 11:24-26
 
This word from Jesus can be frightening. His purpose for the warning is not to cause us to cringe and worry about unclean spirits coming back. It’s a warning to tell us that it’s not enough to get rid of wrong thoughts—we must keep the door locked so our enemy can’t return. Not only does evil come back, but it comes back worse than before. 

I once read an article about diets, and the author said that most people who diet actually lose weight—until they stop dieting. Then they regain the weight they lost and about 5 percent more. When they stop working at the problem, they not only stop losing, but they’re worse than before they started. The author went on to say that the only way to win the battle of being overweight is to make a lifestyle change—by becoming aware of the danger areas and guarding ourselves against making wrong choices.

It works that way spiritually, as well. One way to keep wrong thoughts out of your mind is to keep the mind active and alert and full of right things. You can cast out the devil, but then you must remain alert, always aware of his tricks.  

Read the complete devotional here: Overcoming Passivity

Raising Teenagers

“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4

It’s hard not to be exasperated by a teenager and its hard not to exasperate a teenager. For those who think they know everything, it seems impossible to tell them anything. Yet, God gives parents teenagers so they can learn laughter, wisdom, forgiveness, trust and the grace of imposing guidelines. After all, the older a teenager becomes the less a parent can control them—and therefore, the more is the parent’s felt need to give their teenager’s accountability over to the Lord.

Indeed, tension arises in the transition from immaturity to maturity. It’s during this avalanche of emotions that someone has to act like the adult. The parent is positioned by the Lord to be the voice of reason, as the transitioning teenager has yet to qualify. So, persistent prayer, patience and pardon go a long way in promoting peace in the home.
 
“Joseph, a young man of seventeen, was tending the flocks with his brothers, the sons of Bilhah and the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives, and he brought their father a bad report about them. Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate robe for him.” Genesis 37:2-3

Fathers these passionate pre-adults need your firm and loving leadership as they learn how to manage their freedoms. Mom is the gentle nurturer when they are in grade school, but as they acquire acne you protect your wife from being taken advantage of with your wise and caring leadership. Most of all, remember to be intentional in your relational investment with your young person, as rules without relationship leads to rebellion.

Do you feel taken advantage of, lied to and manipulated? If so, welcome to the world of hormones hijacking the heart of some self absorbed teens. On the other hand, thank the Lord for those young people who, because of God’s grace, have grown in character and their care for others. Make sure to give these models of faithfulness positive feedback. It’s easy to only give attention to the troublemakers and take for granted the good kids.
 
Above all else, pray together as husband and wife for your teenagers to fear God, love Him and obey Christ’s commands. Ask the Lord to fill you with the Holy Spirit, so you can model for them what it means to be a loving disciple of Jesus. Confess your faults to the Lord and your child—and ask for their forgiveness. Teenagers trust transparency. Train and instruct them in worship, Bible study, service, faith, love and grace based living.

Related Readings: Psalm 89:19; Proverbs 23:22; Lamentations 3:26-28; Matthew 18:21-22

Love, Compassion and The Golden Rule

My little cousin is full of questions and very few answers will satisfy her. It makes for interesting conversation, to say the least, but she came up with a tough one the other day.
She was recounting some kids in her class who had different opinions than her’s, and we said that she should love them any way. You know, a kind of turn-the-other-cheek thing. Then she asked:
“How do I love people I don’t know?”
Now, there’s a stumper.
It’s easy to love family or people who are kind to us, but loving the stranger on the street or the annoying neighbor is altogether different.
If life teaches us anything, it’s that exchanging hate for hate gets you nowhere. I think the key to it all is compassion. No matter who it is, I try to imagine life in their shoes and how I would want to be treated. I don’t know about you, but I need forgiveness when I’m wrong. I need patience when I’m being stubborn. And most of all, when I’m acting unlovable, that’s when I need love the most. It makes sense that I would then show those virtues to others. It’s the golden rule: Do to others what you would want done to you.
Compassion can include a host of different things: bringing people food, asking how they are and genuinely listening for an answer, or even a simple smile. There’s no shortage of ways to love a stranger.
My little cousin’s mother summed it up nicely. “Just be nice to them.”
What do you do to show compassion everyday? How do you love people you don’t know?