Thank You

thank you_tOne of the most touching, profound prayers I’ve ever heard uttered in my life went like this;

Thank you.

Yep, a simple “Thank You” to God, uttered by one of our pastors years ago.  Those two words, with so much meaning behind them.  I remember standing there with people filing out of the church around me, thinking why do we complicate our relationship with God so much?  In the Old Testament, Jewish people had an extremely complicated system of rules to relate with God, and even then it was a distant relationship.  Jesus changed all that.  We can come near to God and have a personal, meaningful relationship with Him.

Today is Thanksgiving day in the United States, a day that we gather together with family and friends, eat lots of good food and watch a little football.   It’s also meant to be a day to give thanks for all that God has given us throughout the year, something we can easily forget in the hype of the day.  Today, I start a year long journey of Thanksgiving, I’m not saving all my thanks for that one day in November.  Each day I plan to wake up and give thanks to God.  Each day I plan on going throughout my day giving thanks.  Each day before I lay down to sleep I plan on thanking God.

A simple thank you is often all it will take.  Two words, so much meaning.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Oh……and…..THANK YOU!

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God Speaks to us to Deepen Relationships

This was the message recently at our church, that God speaks to us not to impart some special wisdom or knowledge, not to just tell us what we need to do….but to deepen his relationship with us.  God speaks to us in so many ways, but he will find the most effective way to communicate with you at the time he wants to.

For me, the main ways he has communicated with me in the past is through Scripture and during my private prayer time.  However, at this church service, he really spoke to me through the message and through the worship time….in fact, this has been two weeks in a row, that the message has spoken to me in such a profound way, that it could only be God driven.   I won’t got into details, other than to say that I’m excited about what God revealed to me.

I will talk to something else though, how God has deepened my relationship with him today through his message.  What he showed me today was that he really does care about me and what I do.  He is a very personal God, not one that is distant or scary, but one that I can have an honest chat with, one that I can find comfort in, one that I can rely on.   God wants to be a part of our daily lives.  He wants to come to work with us, to spend our day together.  He is not satisfied with us just spending time with him on Sunday for an hour.

Imagine the time spent with your parents, or your spouse, your children or a best friend.  It would be almost impossible to have a meaningful relationship if you only interacted with them for one hour per week.  My wife and I interact throughout the day.  She’s the first person I see and speak to in the morning and usually the last at night.  We often communicate in person or electronically (if we’re not physically together) often.  And she’s always on my mind, when we are apart.

What if we had that kind of relationship with God.  What if he was the first person we spoke to in the morning, “God, thank you for this new day!”  What if he was the last person we spoke to at night, “God, bless us with a restful night.”  What if he was always on our minds throughout the day?  Just as with your spouse, when you spend more time and communicate more, the relationship deepens.

And the beautiful thing is, by including God more in your day, it doesn’t come at the exclusion of others.  In fact, I feel that the more I speak with God, the deeper my relationship with my wife and children becomes.  The more I spend time with God throughout the workday, the more productive worker I become.  It’s not a zero-balance scenario where you add more time with God but have to take away time from others…..no I feel it’s an exponential growth scenario.  Spend more time with God and the rest of your life explodes with his grace and blessings.

My one bit of advice this day, is to spend more time with God, speaking with him and reading his word and you’ll be amazed at how he responds.

2 Timothy 1:7 – Be a fearless Christian

lion-roar-roaring-teeth-mad-angry-I struggle at times with sharing publicly my beliefs.  Sure I write this blog, but it’s easy to hide behind this computer screen and not have to face anyone directly.  I’ve spoken in front of groups and classes at our church, but despite my discomfort speaking in front of crowds, that wasn’t even that bad because I was surrounded by fellow believers.  No it’s those times when I’m out in the world, with friends, family or strangers that I may not know where they stand with God or some I know outright that they are living without an active relationship with God.  Those are the situations where I often falter and live in timidity.  I fear what others will think.  I fear that perhaps they will have a question I can’t answer.  Or they will make an objection I can’t refute.  I back off at those times when I should be the boldest of all and share my beliefs.  Those are the doors that God has opened to talk and share and perhaps plant that seed that may grow into true faith down the road.

In 2 Timothy 1:7 we read:

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

When we accept Christ as our savior, God sends the Holy Spirit to live within us.  We have the very God of the universe living inside of us.  That spirit is not one of fear or shyness.  It is not one that is in us just to make us comfortable and content in our lives.  No, it is a spirit that allows us to boldly live the lives that God has laid out for us and endure the hardships, the distress, the uncomfortableness that is inevitable.  He allows us to face our fears and our doubts.  He allows us to boldly come before God with our prayers and when we don’t know what or how to pray, He does so for us.  Because of that, we can live our lives in power and love and self-discipline.

I like this quote from Tertullian, and early Christian author:

The Lord challenges us to suffer persecutions and to confess him.  He wants those who belong to him to be brave and fearless.  He himself shows how weakness of the flesh is overcome by courage of the spirit.  This is the testimony of the apostles and in particular of the representative, administrating Spirit.  A Christian is fearless.

A Christian is fearless.  Oh if we could all live like that, if we could live without fear and boldly proclaim the joy and the hope that we have in Jesus Christ.  We will face hardships, we will face challenges, some may face even death because of our faith in Christ.  We are given the power to face all these and live boldly and fearlessly.  With the fear of God, you need fear nothing else.

Now I know it’s difficult to change overnight.  Some may have a dramatic transformation once they decide to live boldly, others if you’re like me, will still struggle and this will be a work in progress.  But know that God is right there with you, so you can endure through any shyness or fear.  And as with just about anything else, once you face your fears and realize that God has helped you through, the fear is lessened each time. Before long, it’s gone completely.

For my friends, family, coworkers, and other acquaintances out there reading this.  No, I won’t come with Bible in hand and beat you until you believe.  If you ask, I will share.  When you see me live my life, despite still being a sinner and with many struggles in my life, I hope you’ll see someone with hope and joy and I’ll  be happy to share where my joy comes from.