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The Best Thing To Do When You Feel Afraid

1 Kings 19:3 is one of the most encouraging verses in the Bible. Before I tell you what it says, let me tell you why it encourages me. There was a prophet in the Old Testament named Elijah, and the miracles he performed were legendary. He declared a drought, and it didn’t rain for three years. He raised a man from the dead. He was fed meals by angels and birds brought him steak dinners. He called down fire from the sky. He made river water separate so he could walk across. This is the kind of power he possessed. 

So now let me tell you what 1 Kings 19:3 says: 

1 Kings 19:3
“Elijah was afraid and fled for his life.”

It may sound strange to describe this as an encouraging Bible verse, but it encourages me because if a prophet who did the miracles he did felt fear, that means fear isn’t an indictment on my spiritual life. Everyone feels afraid, even men who can call down fire from the sky.

You’ll never guess what made him so afraid, a woman. That’s it, just one woman. To be fair, she was scary, but Elijah had just witnessed God destroy 400 men and send fire from the sky. Shouldn’t his previous victory have given him the faith to stand courageously in the face of a smaller fear than the one he had just faced? Sure. I guess. But Elijah’s story is a reminder that fear is irrational. There’s no rhyme or reason to the things that scare us to death. Women who have delivered another human being out of their body are scared of spiders. The same people who fly in airplanes are terrified to climb ladders. Faith comes and goes.

So what does God say to Elijah? How does God respond to his irrational, overreacting, anxiety, and fear? Probably not like you think. First, He lets Elijah sleep. Then He cooks him a good meal. Then God speaks.

1 Kings 19:11-13
And as Elijah stood there, the Lord passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave.

The voice of fear roars in your life, but God’s voice is a soothing, calming voice. He doesn’t try to match the volume of fear. Like a good father, it’s his calming presence that brings calm. 

When one of my kids falls and scrapes their knee or slams their finger in the door, and they run to me screaming, I don’t try to talk over them. I use a gentle tone, “It’s going to be ok. Where does it hurt?” As I softly speak to them, they begin to calm down. I’m always amazed at the power of my voice in my children’s life. We can be in a large crowd or a loud place, but somehow they hear my voice and know where it’s coming from. I think that’s what Jesus meant when he said, “My sheep know my voice.” (John 10:27) When the sound of fear adds to the chaos, the still small voice of God pierces through the noise and calms the storms in me. “Shhhhhhh.”

The original Hebrew translation for the gentle whisper Elijah recognized that day means, “a silence that can be heard.” It’s describing those moments when you don’t hear God’s voice, but his presence speaks volumes. 

Are you afraid right now? Is your mind racing with thoughts of “what if?” Are you worried about your future or failure? Take encouragement from Elijah, even the mightiest men of God freak out sometimes.

When you feel afraid the best thing you can do is get still enough and quiet enough to hear God. The Bible is clear; He is near to us, especially when our spirits are crushed. (Psalm 34:18) Do what Elijah did: Take a good nap, eat a good meal, find a good friend, and have a good talk with God.

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6 Questions To Ask Every Time You Read The Bible

Tell me if this sounds familiar. You’re determined to spend more time with God praying and reading your Bible, so you wake up early in the morning, brew a cup of coffee, get your Bible, and your journal (maybe a few highlighters or a pen) and start reading, determined to hear from God. 

You are ready for a euphoric experience, the way your pastor describes hearing God’s voice, but you soon become discouraged because this experience feels eerily similar to all the other experiences you’ve had before. You’re trying, you really are, but it’s boring, or confusing, or feels irrelevant, or you are too distracted to pay attention for longer than 5 minutes. 

I’ve had countless people describe this exact scenario to me. I’ve even experienced it myself more times than I care to admit, but what’s the alternative? Is there anything you can do to guarantee that your time with God feels beneficial, rewarding, or helpful?

Yes! 

Daily Faith + Life uses a simple 3-step approach to help people learn and love the Bible: Read God’s word, Learn God’s Truth, and Listen for God’s Voice. Using this process helps you to be inspired by the Bible but not depend solely on inspiration to gauge effectiveness, because let’s be honest, some days don’t feel inspiring.

So what can you do on days when your time with God doesn’t feel inspired? How can you hear God’s voice, even when it doesn’t feel like he is speaking to you?

German Minister George Mueller, known for his prayer life, had a set of questions he asked after reading the Bible to help him begin praying. These questions are a great way to assess and apply what you read each time.

1. Is There Any Example For Me To Follow?

The stories in the Bible were written to teach us and give us an example to follow. (Romans 15:4). As you read, does anyone do something worth emulating? You probably won’t need to build an ark, but do you need to obey God in the face of peer pressure or criticism? You probably will never slay a giant, but is there an obstacle in your life you have been hiding from? You may feel the need to defend yourself from lies, but should you instead stay silent like Christ when he faced his accusers?

2. Is There A Command For Me To Obey?

It’s easy to feel like you’re supposed to read between the lines of the Bible to find hidden meanings and codes that need to be cracked. In the search for deeper meaning, we can miss the power of the words on the page. The reality is, most of the New Testament can be literally applied to your life right now. As you read, do you see any instructions or commands that you need to act on? Do you need to forgive or love someone who hurt you? Do you need to be more generous towards God with your money? Do you need to confess to a friend? 

3. Is There Any Error For Me To Avoid?

There are certain verses and stories in scripture that are loud sirens warning us to avoid danger. As you read, do you notice any cautionary tales or warnings? For example, Samson assumed he could always control his sin until it was too late. Do you assume the same thing? The Apostle Paul warned Timothy to not let anyone look down on him because of his young age? Have you been discounting yourself because of your age?

4. Is There Any Sin For Me To Forsake?

The Bible “exposes our innermost thoughts and desires” (2 Timothy 4:12), which means that while you read the Bible, the Bible is reading you, convicting you of the things in your life that pull you away from God. As you read, does any sin come to mind that you need to repent and turn from?

5. Is There Any Promise For Me To Claim?

The Bible is filled with as many as 7487 promises. While you can’t copy and paste every promise for your life, so many of the promises in the Bible are available to anyone who has placed their faith in Jesus. As you read, are there any promises that you can stop and pray about? I have a habit of circling certain promises I come across, Like “The Lord will withhold no good thing from those who do what is right.” (Psalm 84:11) Then I will stop and pray, “God, help me to do what is right, so I can experience all the good things you have for me.” 

6. Is There Any New Thought About God?

The Bible is not like other books you read. It is “living, breathing, and active” which explains why you can read something you’ve read 100 times before but notice something different this time and wonder, “How have I never seen that?” As you read, is there something you never knew before? Is it something you could stop and thank God for?

Yes, occasionally a Bible will fall off a bookshelf to a particular verse. And yes, some days your time with God will feel incredibly supernatural, and you will be certain that you heard from God. Most days, though, it’s the routine of time with God, and the practical application of the verses you read that will allow you to experience his presence and guidance.

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Do You Have A Place To Meet with God?

I’ve never met a Christian who was completely satisfied with the quality and quantity of their time with God. We all feel the need to pray more and pray more powerfully. But how?

Routine.

It’s much more exciting to have a Bible fall off a bookshelf or have an angel visit in a dream, but the best way to connect with God is to create a consistent time and place. If you create a place to meet with God, God will meet you there.

In his book The Circle Maker, Mark Batterson tells the remarkable story of a woman named Elizabeth Dabney. Mother Dabney and her husband moved to Philadelphia in 1925 to pastor a church in downtown. The neighborhood was rough, and the church wasn’t having much success, so Mother Dabney prayed and asked God to give her husband some type of spiritual victory or success to help give the church some momentum. She felt like God wanted her to go to the Schuylkill River at 7:30am the next morning, so she woke up and went the next day. When she arrived she felt like God said to her, “this is the place” Mother Dabney responded to God that day by praying this prayer,

“Lord if you will bless my husband in the place You sent him to establish your name if you will break the bonds and destroy the wall of partition, if you will give him a church and congregation I will walk with you for 3 years in prayer both day and night. I will meet you every morning at 9am sharp; you will never have to wait for me. I will stay there all day and devote my time to you. Furthermore, if you will listen to my prayers and breakthrough in the wicked neighborhood, I will fast 72 hours each week for 2 years. On the days I am fasting, I will not go home, I will sleep in the church.”

Mother Dabney followed through on her promise to God, and God followed through on His promise to her. God did miraculous, incredible things all because one person decided, “I want to get really close to God.”

What is your plan to hear from God? Do you have a place? Do you have time? Do you have a plan? Every day won’t feel magical, but if you create a place to meet with God, God will meet you there.

Listen to a sermon I preached recently on creating a time to meet with God.

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Why Do Christians Only Follow Some Old Testament Rules?

Have you ever wondered why Christians dismiss certain Old Testament laws but cherish others?

Maybe you’ve tried to have a conversation with someone about their lifestyle or behavior only to have a defensive accusation returned to you because you “only follow the parts of the Bible that are convenient.” Maybe you’ve had that conversation with yourself.

I understand why people are so defensive and quick to point out Christian’s hypocrisy. The truth is, over the years Christians haven’t done the best job of practicing what we preach, even worse, the loud minority has given the impression Christians experience some sick enjoyment from declaring rule-breakers hell-bound. It’s one thing to tell someone “you’re going to hell” it’s another thing to say it like you’re happy about it.

When someone is cynical about a Christian’s morality message, it’s easy to jump to the accusation that Christians “pick and choose” which rules are important and which ones we let slide. You’ve probably had someone argue Old Testament scriptures about homosexual behavior by saying, “but the Bible also says not to eat shellfish.” It’s true, there are laws against seafood, cutting hair, tattoos, murder, and sexual immorality all in the same rule book. Does that mean Christians are supposed to obey all the laws given by God in the Old Testament? No. Let me explain.

The Old Testament has 613 laws (rules) God gave to the people (Israel), and while some of them make sense, some of them are just silly. What’s important to know is God was not giving you 613 laws, he was giving them 613 laws.

“But wait a minute,” you’re thinking. “I thought the whole Bible was inspired by God. Does that mean we get to throw out every law that is culturally irrelevant?” That’s a great question, and the answer is again, no. All laws were not created equal. When God gave Israel His commands He gave them in 3 categories:

Civil Laws

These are the laws we would describe as legal in nature. Keep in mind, not only was God teaching people how to have a relationship with Him, but he was also teaching them how to be a nation/country. In the same way, our forefathers created a constitution; God gave Moses rules to govern the land. Here’s an example:

Deuteronomy 23:19
“Do not charge interest on the loans you make to a fellow Israelite, whether you loan money, or food, or anything else.

Ceremonial Laws

These are laws that mattered because it was how a person was considered clean (forgiven) before Jesus came and died on the cross for everyone. In other words, God gave Israel instructions to follow so that it was clear they belonged to Him. Laws like: when to wash your hands, cut your hair, sleep outside of town, etc. Here’s an example of a ceremonial law from the Old Testament

Leviticus 11:3-4
You may eat any animal that has a divided hoof and that chews the cud. ‘There are some that only chew the cud or only have a divided hoof, but you must not eat them.

Moral Laws

These are laws that stand the test of time because to break them is to go against the very nature of God. The 10 commandments, for example, are moral laws that are not dependent on society or context. It’s always against the law to steal because theft is a symptom of discontentment and greed, and discontentment and greed aren’t God’s plan for people who serve a limitless God. We don’t murder because God gives life. We honor our father and mother because God establishes authority. It has been and will always be morally wrong to break moral laws.

Here is where it gets a little confusing, (I’m assuming you’re not confused yet.)

Technically when you committed your life to Jesus Christ and asked him to be your savior, you were freed from the law. That’s what Paul said in Romans 7:

Romans 7:6
But now we have been released from the law, for we died to it and are no longer captive to its power. Now we can serve God, not in the old way of obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way of living in the Spirit.

What that means is no one who has committed their life to Jesus Christ is obligated to abide by any laws. You read that right. There is no obligation for a Christian to abide by a list of rules. The reason we have no rules is because following Jesus is about belief, not behavior.

If reading that last statement excited you because you received permission to do things you thought were against the rules, that’s probably confirmation you have not fully committed your life to Jesus Christ. I don’t say that to make you feel guilty; we’re all a work in progress, I just think it’s important to know that God wants you to live a Holy life because you want to not because you have to.

So back to the original question, are we supposed to obey Old Testament laws? No. Not because they are irrelevant to modern culture, but because Jesus freed us from all civil and ceremonial laws when he died on the cross, and while on the earth, He raised the standard for all moral laws. He showed up making statements like

Matthew 5:2
“You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment!

Matthew 5:27-28
“You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery. But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

In other words, Jesus showed up and said, “The problem is not what you do, the problem is what you want to do.” Jesus doesn’t want you to follow the letter of the law, He wants you to fall in love with the guy who wrote the rulebook.

Where there are teachings and commands in the New Testament made by Jesus or the Apostles, we obey them because we want to be obedient to the God we love. Not because we have to but because we want to, and if you find yourself wanting to obey less and less you don’t have a rule problem you have a relationship problem. (and just to be clear we all battle that temptation.)

Instead of asking the question, “What rules do I have to keep?” or “what things am I allowed to do?” start asking this question, “Am I willing to do anything God would ask me to do?” or “Am I willing to give up anything God would ask me to give up?” Be careful what you ask for though, I think you’ll find obeying the Old Testament laws is less challenging than total surrender.

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Why the Old Testament Can Be Really Confusing

For years I struggled to read the Old Testament. I didn’t have a problem with the famous stories like Noah or Moses. It was all the other books, details, numbers, and strange laws that lost my interest, not to mention my biggest frustration: it’s out of order!

I’m not suggesting God made a mistake, it’s in perfect order.  I just mean it’s out of historical, chronological order. Maybe you’ve noticed this: The book of Numbers repeats several stories from Exodus, and 1 & 2 Kings and 1 & 2 Chronicles repeat a lot of the same stories as well. Did you know that Job is one of the oldest books of the Bible even though it’s the 18th book of the Bible?

When the Old Testament was being assembled it was organized by genre, like this:

The Pentateuch, or the Books of the Law (Torah): Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy

Historical Books: Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther

Wisdom Literature: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon

The Prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi

But that’s not the historical order of events. Everything changed for me when I began to read the Old Testament in chronological order. Once I understood the order of events, the prophets and laws made more sense. 

You may already know this, but just in case you don’t, let me give you a quick overview of the story of the Old Testament.

  • God made man.
  • Man sinned, making every person born a sinner by birth.
  • God promised to use Abraham to create a nation of people, called Israel, to establish a way of life and display his love and great power. God would be known as the “God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” (Abraham’s son and grandson.)
  • Egypt made God’s people (Israel) slaves for 400 years until Moses showed up and led Israel out of Egypt.
  • Israel was supposed to follow Moses to the Promised Land, but on their way, they sinned against God and ended up spending 40 years in the desert.
  • After Moses died, Joshua finally led Israel into the Promised Land, and they established a place to call home.
  • There were no kings because God wanted to be their king, so there were Judges established by God to make decisions and protect the people from their enemies, but God’s people were rebellious, turned their backs on God, and began to do wicked things.
  • God raised up a boy named Samuel to be a prophet and be a spiritual leader to Israel, but they wanted a king so God made Saul the first King of Israel.
  • Saul turned his back on God, so God made David king. David was the greatest king of Israel. 
  • His son Solomon became king after David died, and Solomon eventually turned his back on God.
  • After Solomon, Israel was split and both nations, their kings, and the people were rebellious and sinful, so God used Prophets to predict the coming of Jesus, and to warn the people that if they didn’t repent and turn from their sin, they were going to be captured and destroyed by their enemies, but they didn’t listen. 
  • Babylon attacked and destroyed Israel, and the people who weren’t killed were taken as captives and moved to Babylon.
  • While they lived in Baylon God spoke to and used certain Jewish people in miraculous ways (Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Esther, etc.)
  • 70 years later, God used a man named Nehemiah to return to Israel’s home and rebuild the city.
  • Some of the Jewish people returned to their homeland, but not everyone, and they lived there for around 400 years until the birth of Jesus Christ.

The Old Testament is a story about how much God loves his people, but because humans are sinners, they keep turning their backs on God. God keeps patiently and lovingly blessing and disciplining them, trying to win their hearts, but humanity desperately needed a savior who was coming (Jesus).

If you read the Old Testament with this story in mind, it helps make sense of some of the sections that otherwise seem random or peculiar (I wrote this post to help make sense of some of the strange laws in the OT). Everything in the Old Testament is about God trying to lead a nation and point to the Savior (Jesus) who was coming.

I hope this helps.

For years I have used this Bible Reading Plan. You read some of the OT, NT, and a Psalm or Proverbs every day, but the Old Testament is in Chronological order.

Don’t get discouraged. Keep reading. Keep learning. Keep listening for God’s voice. 

BTW, the New Testament is out of order too, but we’ll talk about that later 😉

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What Do You Think About When You Think About God?

There’s an old children’s fable about a day when the North Wind and the Sun had a debate about which of them was stronger. While they were arguing, a traveler passed along the road wrapped in a coat. 

The Sun said, “Let’s make a bet. Whoever can strip the traveler of his coat is stronger.” 

“Very well,” said the North Wind, and at once sent a cold, howling blast against the traveler. The Wind caused the cloak to whip around the traveler’s body. But he immediately wrapped it close, and the harder the North Wind blew, the tighter the traveler held on to the coat. All the Wind’s efforts were in vain. 

Then the Sun began to shine. At first, his beams were gentle and pleasant after the bitter cold of the Wind, and the traveler unfastened his coat and let it hang loosely from his shoulders. At last, he became so heated that he pulled off his coat, and, to escape the blazing heat, he threw himself down in the welcome shade of a tree by the roadside. The moral of the story is that gentleness, kindness, and warmth win where force and bluster fail.

If you had to describe God in one word, what word you would choose. Powerful? Sovereign? Loving? Those would all be accurate descriptions of God, but I wonder how many words you would list before you chose “kind.”

Kindness is not an attribute we associate with God, maybe because of the Old Testament stories of war or the future predictions of world domination. We tend to think of God as distant or angry. We’re told he loves us, but we’re not sure he likes us. 

AW Tozer famously said, “What comes to our mind when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” So what comes to your mind when you think about God? Kindness?

Kindness has been God’s style since Jesus and the New Testament. He doesn’t force anyone to believe, and he doesn’t sabotage your life if you run away from him. God is love, and while his power knows no limit, it’s not strength he uses to win your heart; it’s kindness. That’s what the Apostle Paul said,

Romans 2:4
“Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?”

How often do you feel like God is mad at you or disappointed in you? He’s not. He loves you.

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What Does God Sound Like?

I heard an interview recently about how the creators of Zumba came up with their name.

The dancing workout routine was originally called “RumbaSize,” but since they couldn’t copyright the name, they were forced to think of something different. They liked the sound of “umba” (ooo-m-ba), so they went to dinner at a local Mexican restaurant and started placing letters of the alphabet in front of “umba.” Aumba, Bumba, Cumba, all the way through 26 attempts, until they came to Zumba, and instantly knew they had their new name.

So often, we glamorize creativity and inspiration when, in reality, most brilliant ideas are luck, accidental, or realized during routine activities. It would be easy to assume someone with a creative mind, and excellent marketing background innovated a new word after months of research, but the truth is Zumba got its name from three guys sitting at dinner going through the alphabet.

Most Christians describe hearing the voice of God as a mystical, magical moment. I remember growing up in church and hearing the pastor talk about conversations with God with such certainty, very matter of fact. They would say things like, “I asked God, and he said to me” or “I heard the word of the Lord whisper in my ear.” As a kid, I assumed there was a different line of communication for preachers and everyone else. Now that I’m older and a pastor myself, I think more times than not, we glamorize our experiences in the retelling. Most of my exchanges with God feel more like aumba, bumba, cumba

Mark Batterson says your favorite scripture will eventually become the script of your life, and I hope that’s true because my favorite scripture is Exodus 33:11.

Exodus 33:11
“Inside the Tent of Meeting, the Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.”

I want to know God like Moses, minus the 80 years in the desert, of course. But it does raise a good question, what does God’s voice sound like? How can we hear him, or know that the voice we’re hearing is God? 

It’s important to know that God’s words don’t have to come from a voice from the sky. As a matter of fact, God’s voice is more normal than mystical. In my life, God speaks much more in the car on the way to work than during meditation. I can’t explain why, but my interactions with the almighty are much more normal than mystical. Like a text message or phone conversation of banter between friends, God speaks using ordinary language in ordinary moments, how I’m prone to recognize it. You don’t have to light candles, play music, or go in the woods, you can if you want to, but don’t feel like you have to in order to hear God’s voice. Sometimes turning off the radio or phone is just as powerful. 

Is there a recurring conversation you’re having with friends? Can you not shake a thought every night when you go to bed? Pay attention. Those ordinary moments could be God’s most popular places to speak to you.

God’s voice is felt much more than heard. Even though people often say things like, “God spoke to me,” or “I heard God say,” more times than not, they “felt” God more than heard him. In 36 years, I have never heard the audible voice of God. Some have, but not me. We all feel pressure to hear a voice, but the chances are, God is prompting, prodding, and poking you, trying to get your attention to receive a message from him. Over the years, I’m learning to “feel” my way towards God’s ultimate destinations through gut, intuition, instinct, and discernment.

Conversations about hearing God’s voice can add pressure because you fear missing an urgent message from heaven. What if I missed it? What if I misunderstood? I’m so glad God is patient with me because it usually takes me a while to see what He’s put right in front of my face. If you believe God speaks only through lightning bolts, visions, and the residue of an angel, there is immense pressure not to miss the moment, but I’m learning God’s voice lingers; it follows me like a shadow waiting on me to put the pieces together. Don’t be afraid, wondering, “What if God was trying to speak to me, and I missed it?” He’s still trying to speak to you. You haven’t missed it. As you pray, read the Bible, talk with friends who love God, and trust your gut, I think you’ll find God can be a bit of a chatterbox.

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The Myth of “Quiet Time With God”

Like any other discipline, reading the Bible requires effort, strategy, and consistency. 

It’s important you know that, because, in an attempt to convince more Christians to read it, pastors and preachers like me have oversold the magical experience of “quiet time with God.”

Unintentionally, we have painted the picture that if you will wake up a little bit earlier, find a quiet place to sit and open the Bible, a light from above will lift you into a heavenly realm. God will speak, your heart will be moved, and your life will be changed before you shower.

To be clear, I have personally experienced times reading the Bible, I would describe as “heavenly”. But most days, my time in the scriptures is just that: time.

Those “ordinary” days are not any less spiritual, they are the bridge that connects the significant spiritual moments in my life. 

I learned an important lesson a long time ago that has helped shape my devotional life: The more I read God’s word, the more I will learn God’s truth, and the more I will hear God’s voice.

A shorter way to say it is: information leads to inspiration.

I don’t get emotional when I think about my wife’s social security number, but I do know it. I also know her birthdate, the kind of hairspray she uses, her favorite restaurant, and all sorts of other random things because we’ve spent the last 18 years together. 

If your only measurement for the effectiveness of your time with God is how inspired you feel, most days will feel like a waste of time, but there’s no such thing as wasted time with God.

In Psalm 119, David described how he approached God’s word,

Psalm 119:10-16
10 I have tried hard to find you—don’t let me wander from your commands.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
12 I praise you, O Lord; teach me your decrees.
13 I have recited aloud all the regulations you have given us.
14 I have rejoiced in your laws as much as in riches.
15 I will study your commandments and reflect on your ways.
16 I will delight in your decrees and not forget your word.

This is just one description of David’s time with God. Other times were more emotional, or worshipful, but in this instance, he described how he “tries hard to find God.”

  • He recites the Bible aloud (v. 13)
  • He studies the commands of the Bible (v. 15)
  • He reflects on the truths of the Bible (v. 15)

This is a great reminder that your devotional time doesn’t have to be exciting to be spiritual. Of course, I don’t mean that a relationship with God should be lifeless or emotionless, I simply mean that inspiration is not a random occurrence. Information leads to Inspiration. After David recited, studied, and reflected on the Bible, two things happened:

  • He felt delight (v. 16)
  • He remembered what he read (v. 16)

This is what always happens. The more you learn the Bible, the more you will love it. So, what should you do if you don’t feel inspired to read the Bible or spend time with God today? Do it anyway. Learn a fact, or memorize scripture, or reflect on a truth. If you create a place to meet with God, God will meet you there.

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3 Reminders During the COVID-19

I’m sure like me, what seems like every hour, you’re reading something or hearing something that is shocking. I can confidently say, I’m not afraid, I’m just in shock. This is certainly an unprecedented and historic time in our country.

As a church, this is also uncharted territory. We’ve had to cancel services for weather before, but we’ve never had so much uncertainty about being able to worship together.

We really appreciate your patience and understanding, as we prayerfully wrestle with what we should do. Pray for your government, medical, and spiritual leaders, and of course, everyone who has come in contact with COVID19.

Even if you disagree with the opinions and decisions of the government and medical professionals, and you’re angry about all the cancellations and inconveniences, please recognize that everyone is trying to do what could potentially help.

The truth is we will never know if our decision helped or not. If these cancellations help prevent the spread of the virus, we won’t know how bad it could’ve been. If they don’t help, we won’t know how bad it would’ve been. So we’re left doing the best we can do, making the best decisions we can make, and hoping they are the right ones.

Like you, I’ve spent the last several days chasing my thoughts down a myriad of rabbit trails. I don’t have time to type out all of them, but I do want to share a few of them.

1. You’re not less of a Christian because you’re concerned

It breaks my heart that some Christians are taking a “you shouldn’t be afraid/shouldn’t miss church/we’re not gonna let the devil win” mentality. That’s ridiculous. First of all, you are the church, so wherever you are is where the church is. More importantly, God is not bothered by your fear. Yes, the Bible says “do not fear” several hundred times, but not because God is chastising you. No, he is reminding you that you don’t have to be afraid. So if you’re feeling concerned or afraid or scared, you’re not any less faith-filled or any less of a Christian. You’re a human being. Abraham was afraid, Moses too. Joshua, David, Elijah, John the Baptist, the disciples, and on and on–they had fears too!. 

2. Limit the noise in your life

I love to consume information, I mean I REALLY love it, but last night, I turned my phone off, because I just kept scrolling and scrolling and scrolling. Do you know what I didn’t feel? More confidence. No, instead I felt more fear and frustration. Social media has provided rocket fuel to sarcasm and snark, so it doesn’t take long for you to lose your joy or any amount of peace you’ve found. Whether it’s social media, the news, certain friends or relatives, work hard to limit the things that steal your peace. Maybe consider turning off the phone this weekend and putting in a kitchen drawer.

3. Find the blessing in the bad news

I have to admit I was really bummed about March Madness being canceled, not to mention all the other sports, my kid’s sports seasons and school plays. I’m sure you’ve felt some disappointment too. It’s not just cancellations, it’s lower paychecks and real concerns about the sustainability of our businesses. But in the middle of all of this chaos and disappointment is an opportunity to do something our generation is not great at…. Nothing. When was the last time you had a few weeks with no ball games, appointments, or extracurricular activities? When’s the last time you could eat a meal around the table as a family 3 nights in a row? When’s the last time you got the board games out of the closet? I know parents still have to work. Life is not completely shut down, but it is slowed down enough, that if you will fight for it, this time can be a blessing and strengthen your family. Let me encourage you to not just binge NetFlix or stare at your phone. Play in the backyard, bake a cake, build a craft, assemble a puzzle. Do something that you probably haven’t been able to do in a long time: be together. 

I honestly have no idea when we will be able to have corporate church services again. I hope it’s as soon as next week, but if not, our church we’ll be okay. The church is not a building; it’s people. Our staff is working really hard to figure out some short term solutions in the event our break is extended. We would love to be able to have a full worship service and get everyone together, but every government official is telling us that it’s the large gatherings that are potentially most dangerous for spreading the virus.

One last thing, if you’re reading this and you go to another church, let me share something with you about your pastor: they’ve got a thousand thoughts too. They’re thinking about people’s spiritual life, they’re contemplating people not coming back to church after this is all over. They’re worried about people with financial and medical needs, and they’re probably stressing a little bit about not having offerings, paying church bills, and a bunch of other stuff. Let me encourage you to do 3 things: (1) Pray for them. (2) Text them something encouraging. (3) Give online. They probably will be a little afraid to ask for that last one so I’ll do it for them. They love you.

At the end of the day, there’s nothing we can really do about any of this but try to stay prayerful and positive. We will keep communicating with you. I love you and I am praying for you. Keep your head up and on straight, everything is going to be okay.

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