Faced with dissention in your church? Faced with neighbors or co-workers who actively look for something negative in your life because you are a believer, a follower of Christ? Faced with your own doubts about your faith? Not to mention dealing with the doubts created by the myriad of deception in the social, political, and religious arenas, and the ongoing nightmare some of that has become.

Can you look at yourself and ask, am I too focused on myself? Can you answer that question, and if the answer is yes, can you do what it takes to renew your mind to that rich and joyful heart you had when your focus was on Jesus?

Not alone; no we can’t do it alone. We need the Bible’s instructions and encouragement and we need the Holy Spirit to guide us through renewal, strengthen us, love us back to that first love. We need to trust God to put people in our lives that will stand beside us in our journey of faith.

Survival may seem a little dramatic, because so much of the world view can, and has shaped how we view things. But you are worth the sacrifice Jesus made, or He wouldn’t have made it. We were warned about these difficult times, so move toward survival. Your reward awaits you – life eternal with Jesus.

Take the time to read Romans 12. Read it, absorb it, keep reading it until it wraps itself around you like a comforting quilt, and then go live it. And rejoice in the changes you experience.

A Living Sacrifice

​I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Gifts of Grace

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith;  if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

Marks of the True Christian

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.  Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.  If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12 (ESV)

August 11, 2014

A few years back, I went on to my first manly men’s canoe trip, which, thanks to Brian Jones and his asking (knowing that the outdoors to me equates to a hotel) me to tag along. There was a point where several of the guys were climbing up this small cliff and diving into the water. I remember Brian trying to get me to jump off, and I laughed and told him that I thought that it was funny that he thought his words would actually get me to jump.

In the same way, life’s hiccups and irritations can also be a consideration as to whether or not we’re going to jump off and away from the peace that passes all understanding/the joy of the Lord. And so, I found myself this morning with a weed eater on a familiar hill and just started smiling and then laughing because of last night. I got to watch my dear friends, as well as my youngest sons, attend their (Sam and Cole’s) first Christian concert. Sam was completely enthralled, his eyes could not be distracted, and at one point, during a biblical share from the lead singer of “Break the fall,” I saw tears streaming down his face. When we asked how he was then and afterward, he grew excited and got autographs from the whole band.

I needed that moment last night; you probably don’t understand that, but, as parents, we don’t always get the door opened to see vulnerability in our kids, and it was awesome. But it doesn’t end there because I got to renew a covenant with the Lord last night and am embracing as much worship as my 47-year-old arms can raise, and it gives me perspective, which is what I need. Perspective looks past the pains and the perceived interferences in life; it slows down and enjoys the moment.