Monday, August 27, 2012


We live in a world which makes it very easy for us to “chameleonize” our lives.  It’s acceptable and we’re even expected to be inconsistent and uncommitted and masked.  And when we don’t get our way or we disagree, it’s understood that we become combative and opposite.  And this spills over into our relationship with God.  Sometimes we simply don’t follow through with what He says to do in His Word.  Dare I use the word “disobey”?  The downside of disobedience, whether it’s through passivity or rebellion, is that we consequently don’t receive all that God wants to give us – such as His counsel, provision, inner strength, motivation, His affirmation, the warmth of His love, joy, peace, patience, etc.  So I say let’s get DREAMIE!  And I don’t mean sleepy.  I’m thinking just the opposite.

Here’s what I mean:
57 You are my portion, O Lord; I have promised to obey your words.
58 I have sought your face with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise.
59 I have considered my ways and have turned my steps to your statutes.
60 I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands.
61 Though the wicked bind me with ropes, I will not forget your law.
62 At midnight I rise to give you thanks for your righteous laws.
63 I am a friend to all who fear you, to all who follow your precepts.
64 The earth is filled with your love, O Lord; teach me your decrees.
Psalm 119:57-64

Verses 57-58 express our desire to be obedient and to experience God’s promises fulfilled in our lives.  The following verses express what we can do about it.

Let’s use “DREAMIE” as an acronym based on these verses in order to follow through with God’s Word in our lives.

D – Dictate your feelings.
v. 62 At midnight I rise to give you thanks for your righteous laws.
Who feels like getting up at midnight to give thanks to the Lord for His righteous laws?  The point is that we command our feelings to give thanks and obey God’s Word even when our feelings don’t feel like it – any time of the day.

R – Relate to other obedient Christians.
v. 63 I am a friend to all who fear you, to all who follow your precepts.
Build friendships as a support team with those who are committed to following Jesus and growing more in their relationship with Him.

E – Evaluate your ways.
v. 59a I have considered my ways...

A – Activate the process of spiritual transformation by making appropriate choices.
v. 59b … and (I) have turned my steps to your statutes.

M – Meditate on God’s truth.
v. 61 Though the wicked bind me with ropes, I will not forget your law.
Put God’s Word in your mind and heart in order to remember it when the heat is on.

I – Intake God’s Word by being teachable.
v. 64 The earth is filled with your love, O Lord; teach me your decrees.
Keep learning God’s truths.

E – Expedite the transformation of your life by acting promptly.
v. 60 I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands.


Monday, August 20, 2012


Church hopping was the subject of an article that was carried nationally recently (Rose French, “Spirit moves 'church hoppers,'” Star Tribune, July 14, 2012).

What is “church hopping?”  It’s going from one church to another without committing to any one church for any significant period of time.  This makes it different than legitimate “church shopping.”

James Emery White reflects on what Betsy Hart writes saying that hoppers reflect a growing tendency to decide, after they have officially joined a particular church, that “Oh, that pastor down the street is a little more high-energy than mine,” or “Gee, the music here isn’t really meeting my needs right now,” or “I really am not crazy about that new singles director.”

So they hop from church to church.

The hard-core hopper never even makes an initial commitment. They perpetually float between churches, pursuing a Beth Moore study at First Baptist, youth group at First Methodist, weekend services at Hope, Grace, or Community Church, marriage enrichment events at…well, you get the picture.

What’s driving this?

For some, it’s simply the consumer mindset of our culture at work.
As Hart writes, “Church ‘hopping’ is the ultimate ‘all about me’ experience.” They take from various churches whatever it is they perceive to be of value without committing to any one church either to serve or support.

For some, it’s insecurity.
They have to be wherever they think it’s “happening” in the Christian world.  Some Christians constantly church-hop to the “next” thing in church life.  They move from one church to another, looking for the next hot singles group, the next hot church plant, the next hot speaker, the next hot youth group.   Sometimes they end up full circle where they began, because their original church suddenly became “next.”

For some, it’s spiritual gluttony.
They want nothing more than to be “fed”, and when they feel they’ve eaten all a church has to offer, they move on where there is the potential for more food – as if that is what constitutes growing in Christ or being connected to Christ.

For some, it’s refusing accountability.
A pattern of sin is pursued, or a choice made, and they leave for a place where no one knows, and no one asks.

For some, it’s avoiding stewardship.
If they aren’t committed to any one church, there is no obligation to give or serve at any one church. They can float above sacrifice without guilt.

For some, it’s emotional immaturity.
A decision is made they don’t agree with, a building campaign is initiated they didn’t vote for, a staff change is made they didn’t like, so they take their marbles and go play somewhere else.

None of these reflect well on the person leaving, which implies that anyone who leaves a church is somehow in the wrong, and that is not fair.  Truthfully there may be times to not simply hop, but leap. If there is scandal that is simply not addressed, doctrinal heresy, or patterns of abuse, you should leave. 

But for the typical hopper, it’s not time for self-justification, but loving admonition.

First, church isn’t about you. Sorry, but it’s not. It isn’t one of many stores in a mall that exists to serve your spiritual shopping list. Church is a gathered community of believers who are pooling together their time, talent and resources to further the Great Commission.  Find one and start investing your life.

Second, the very nature of authentic community is found in the “one anothers.” Love one another, serve one another, encourage one another.”  This cannot happen apart from doing life with people.  You need community.

Third, the absence of a ministry you desire may be God’s call on your life to start it, rather than leave to find a church that has it. Remember, every member is a minister, and has been given at least one spiritual gift for service in the life and mission of the church.

Fourth, you aren’t going to agree with every decision the leadership of any church makes, regardless of its structure or decision-making process. You either feel you can trust the character of the leadership, or you can’t.  And being able to trust that leadership doesn’t mean they will always do things the way you think they should. In other words, don’t hop every time you disagree. That’s immature.

And on the other hand, don’t stay and pout or politic, either. Either get on board once the decision is made, if it was one that didn’t breach doctrine or ethics, or find a place where you can.

Fifth, don’t worry about being fed as much as learning to feed yourself. Even more, concern yourself with taking what you already know and applying it to your life, and then helping to feed others who are new to the faith.

Finally, spiritual depth isn’t attained by gratifying your sense of felt needs. It’s receiving a balanced diet of teaching and challenge, investing in service and mission, engaging in worship and giving, living in community and diversity that you probably would not select for yourself. If we simply go to where we are drawn, we will miss out on addressing those areas of life where we are blind.

Monday, August 13, 2012


… giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. Col. 1:12

Giving thanks to the Lord should always be a part of our way of living.  Why?  Because God has qualified us through Christ to share in the future inheritance of the saints.  Look forward to what God has in store for you, your inheritance as a believer in Christ, all because of what Christ has done.

We give thanks as we pray consistently and fervently for His present work in our lives, which includes spiritual/emotional growth, bearing fruit, increasing in knowing God, strengthened with His power, and transforming to become more like Christ.  In the verses prior to verse 12, Paul says, For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.  And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, … Col. 1:9-12a

Consistent praying leads us to give thanks because of the results of the praying.  The powerful productive work of prayer is emphasized.  If we want a heart full of thanksgiving, then we must live in Christ with consistent fervent praying.

Monday, August 6, 2012


If we ignore the emotional components of discipleship in our lives, we will not mature spiritually.  Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart…” (Matt. 22:37).  He also said, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings.  And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31-32 NLT). 

As we grow closer to God, learning and applying more of His truths, faithfully following Jesus – we will most likely come to realize that whole emotional layers of our lives exist that God has not yet touched.  And those emotional layers, unless dealt with, prevent further spiritual maturity. 

Emotional health and spiritual health are inseparable.  Emotional maturity and spiritual maturity are inseparable.  The emotional stability of homes in America is at an all-time low.  According to George Barna the divorce rate for people who describe themselves as Christians is even higher than for the public as a whole.  It’s impossible for a Christian to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature.  To say it another way:  If we’re not maturing emotionally we’re not maturing spiritually. 

God is at work transforming you as a whole person.  We are more than spiritual beings.  God made us whole people in His image.  That includes the spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and relational dimensions of who are and who we’re becoming.  And one day our physical image will be transformed into glorified supernatural bodies like that of Jesus. God made a promise to every Christian:  God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. (Rom. 8:29 Mes). 

In The Cry of the Soul, Dan Allender and Tremper Longman III speak to the importance of listening to and dealing with our emotions:  “Ignoring our emotions is turning our back on reality; listening to our emotions ushers us into reality.  And reality is where we meet God… Emotions are the language of the soul.  They are the cry that gives the heart a voice… However, we often turn a deaf ear – through emotional denial, distortion, or disengagement.  We strain out anything disturbing in order to gain tenuous control of our inner world.  We are frightened and ashamed of what leaks into our consciousness.  In neglecting our intense emotions, we are false to ourselves and lose a wonderful opportunity to know God.  We forget that change comes through brutal honesty and vulnerability before God.”

As believers in Christ our inner world is to be in sync with our outer behavior.  Many people are unaware they are living with a dichotomy between their inner and outer worlds.  The Bible says “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9 NAS). 

For us to really love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength we must know not only God but also our inner selves – the nature of our own heart, soul, and mind.  And we must give time to this. 

Recall what characterized Adam and Eve in their sin:  shame, loneliness, hiding, self-protection, lying, emotional pain.  These also characterize every one of us who has lived ever since. 

It requires a lot of work, energy, inconvenience, time, courage, solitude, and a firm understanding of God’s grace and love to grow in Christ-likeness.  We remain emotional infants until the emotional component of God’s image in us is exposed and transformed through Jesus Christ.  And it’s then that we discover on an entirely new level the love and grace of God, and our spiritual life with Christ flourishes.