Have you ever been afraid to try something because you might fail?
I’m sure I’m not the only one who has fought this battle. As far back as I can remember, I’ve hesitated to attempt something that I’m not confident about. Let me give you an example.
I was a senior in high school. My grades were excellent and I had applied to a “selective” university that I really wanted to attend. I’d completed all the college track classes I needed—English, math, science, etc., but I still lacked a “fine or practical art.” I really wanted to take photography. I had been given my first SLR camera for Christmas and I wanted to take magnificent photos. However, academically, this was new territory. I knew I could do classwork, and I have a knack for taking exams, but photography was creative. Could I do that too? What if I couldn’t?
We’re all familiar with the Ten Commandments—honor your father and mother, don’t worship idols, don’t steal, keep the Sabbath, etc. God gave us the ten commandments, and we would be smart to obey them. But what about the commandments Jesus gave us? We’re familiar with His teachings, but were there things He commanded us to do, or not do?
I believe that God always answers our prayers—the Bible is full of examples, plus we have verses such as Matthew 21:22: “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
Yet, for many of us, our life experience tells us otherwise. Does that mean God lied? Is the Bible untrustworthy? Or, perhaps, is it our lack of understanding that’s causing the problem?
Many years ago, Pete and I dreamed of moving to someplace less urban than the middle of Silicon Valley. We were tired of the traffic, fed up with the smog, and yearning for a simpler lifestyle. We prayed, and it seemed as if God was saying yes, get ready, you’re going to move. Great! We’ve always enjoyed the northwest, so Pete spent several months investigating jobs in the Seattle area. Things looked positive, but then the doors started slamming shut. We were so confused. Hadn’t God given us the go-ahead? Had He changed His mind?
[Thanks to my husband for setting my mind on this track!]
There are certain “spiritual” practices that most Christians would agree are a Good Idea—practices such as reading the Bible, praying, and fellowshipping with other believers. If you stop and consider, you might add additional items to this list—meditating on God and His word, practicing hospitality, generosity (aka giving), and fasting. We often aren’t aware that those among us are fasting, but I’m sure they are. Jesus assumed his followers would fast; it just isn’t something that we’re supposed to notice. Continue reading
Two weeks ago I asked, “With all the promises of suffering God gives us, why would anyone in their right mind become a Christian?” We don’t follow Jesus to receive lots of money, or lots of “stuff”—houses, cars, clothes, etc. We don’t follow Jesus to make life go smoothly. So why do we make Him our Lord? Today I hope to answer that question, at least in part.
In truth, the benefits are tremendous—they’re just not always tangible. Instead of receiving material goods, we receive a Person. And not any person, but the God of the universe, the God who created us, the God who is perfect in every way.
Does becoming a Christian make life better? Will converting to Christianity solve all your problems? Will you be happier or more prosperous? Will your circumstances will improve as you live by “Biblical principles”?
This is a common assumption in the church. You may have heard of a little booklet published by Campus Crusade (now called Cru) way back in 1952. Written by Bill Bright, it’s called “The Four Spiritual Laws,” and was intended to be used as an evangelistic tool to quickly and concisely share the gospel. According to this booklet, the first law is, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” That sounds so positive. Who wouldn’t want their life to follow a wonderful plan?
Are you wearing green? Eating green food, drinking green beer? Stores are selling shamrocks, leprechauns adorn decorations, and we’re all hoping for a pot of gold. What is St. Patrick’s Day about, really? Just as Frosty and mistletoe have little to do with the true purpose of Christmas, and Easter holds far more significance than a bunny bringing baskets of jelly beans, St. Patrick’s Day has a rich heritage far beyond our cultural celebration.
Patrick was born in Scotland 385 AD. He was abducted at age 16 and taken to Ireland, where he lived in bondage as a shepherd. During that time, his Christian faith became real to him, sustaining him for six long year. God then rescued him and he returned home, where he became a priest—only to be called as a missionary back to the very country where he had been enslaved.