God With Us: When “Truth” Doesn’t Matter

God With Us: When “Truth” Doesn’t Matter

ConnectedSomeone has hurt you – badly. Or you face a really tough decision. Or something happens to rock you to your very core. You take the risk and tell one of your church friends, and they respond, “I’ll be praying for you.”

And you want to SCREAM!

It’s not that praying is bad. It’s good. Very good. But it’s like they expect offering a prayer takes them off the hook. They can feel they’ve done their Christian duty while you’re left dying under the crushing load.

When your spouse walks out you don’t need someone to quote Scripture to you. When you just found out your son or daughter is sexually active with a same-sex partner you don’t need to be encouraged to go to church. When you just heard the word “cancer” from your doctor an “I’ll pray for you” doesn’t go very far. When your spouse or child just died a pat on the back with a “God will be with you” is just empty.

I’m on a bit of a rant today. I’ve recently been touched by two different Christian friends whose marriages were lost through no obvious fault of their own. I’ve wrestled with my own healing from grief after the loss of my husband Al a few months ago. And I’ve heard a few truly ugly stories from you, my readers, about what look like truly impossible situations.

At such times the standard Christian platitudes just don’t work. It’s not that they’re wrong; it’s that they’re not enough.

One of my friends was tearful after sharing a moment of his pain, and I responded: “If the gospel can’t deal with this, then what good is it?!”

God With Us

What is the kingdom of God really all about? Why did Jesus come here? Why are we trying to live this Christian life anyway?

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Your Marriage is on the Rocks: 3 Things to Do

Your Marriage is on the Rocks: 3 Things to Do

It looks like your marriage is about over. Love, intimacy, communication, connection – those are all long gone. What do you do when your marriage is on the rocks?

Only this week I’ve heard from:

–          A church friend whose husband just moved out after 18 years of marriage

–          A husband who feels no love for his wife and sees no hope of getting it back

–          A wife whose husband told her she has only 10% of his interest before he calls it quits

–          A husband who feels he has no emotional energy left to try to fight for his marriage

–          A wife who is ready to leave her marriage, and is only staying because of finances

–          A wife whose husband refuses to talk and has told her he is ready for a divorce

You may feel very alone right now. But you’re in lots of company if it seems as though your marriage is hopeless.

If you’re in that situation you may be reacting in one of two ways. You may be feeling frantic, desperately trying to hold on to your spouse. You may be going through their belongings or phone or social media looking for evidence they are seeing someone else. Or you’re trying to force a hard conversation, manipulate them into staying with you, or nagging them with your snide remarks, criticism, and suggestions.

Or you may be doing the opposite. If your marriage is hopeless, why try any longer? You’ve checked out too, and are only going through the motions. Children, finances, or convenience are keeping you from leaving yourself, but there’s absolutely no relationship with your spouse. You’ve been hurt too much, betrayed once too often, neglected too long – and you have nothing left.

If only you knew what to do next!

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Are You one of the Lazy Christians?

Are You one of the Lazy Christians?

FootballIt’s football season – that time of year when 50,000 or 100,000 spectators desperately in need of exercise sit for hours watching 30 or so fit athletes desperately in need of rest. But somehow the running, tackling, and throwing by those 30 never seems to rub off on the 100,000.

I have nothing against football, but being a fan will not improve your health and wellbeing one bit! And neither will being a spiritual spectator. Lazy Christians are in grave danger of losing strength and fitness. That’s you – unless you start engaging in your own spiritual exercise.

Just yesterday during a prayer group I’m a part of a pastor became desperate as she cried out to God about the social-club playing-church entitlement mentality too many believers display. Our pastors, our leaders, cannot do our fighting for us! They cannot grow your character, protect you from the enemy’s attacks, influence the world around you, or fulfill the mission God has given you to do.

To switch metaphors, in a war the generals don’t do the front-line fighting; the soldiers do. And in the spiritual battle for your soul, your family, your future, or your nation, your spiritual leaders cannot do the fighting that only you can do. Your spiritual leaders have a great responsibility in their roles. But you cannot expect to find healing, purpose, joy, or victory unless YOU strap on your sword – or your running shoes.

In the United States we’re in the middle of perhaps the most contentious and important election our country has yet seen. And for those of us who care about the kingdom of God, we dare not let the news cycle or the overwhelm dissolve us into the apathy of a spectator sport.

5 Ways to get your Spiritual Exercise

For your physical health you need moderately intense physical exercise alternating with periods of rest and renewal. It’s the same with your spiritual health.

You cannot remain at a high intensity of spiritual warfare indefinitely without periods of refreshment. But the vast majority of Christians in our culture are in no danger of spiritual burnout or overwork! We’re in much more danger of being spiritual couch potatoes waiting for someone else to do our running or our fighting for us.

And you cannot get nearly the same benefit from someone else’s spiritual victory as you can from experiencing it for yourself.      Tweet that.

Here are a few ways to get your spiritual exercise that will help you maintain – and grow – your level of fitness and impact.

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7 Steps to Dealing with BIG Marriage Problems

7 Steps to Dealing with BIG Marriage Problems

You could handle the little things, or so you tell yourself. You could pick up his dirty clothes now and then, or overlook the times she forgot to tell you about a purchase she’d made. But this time it’s really BIG. Your spouse has messed up badly. It’s all you can think about, and you’re not sure you can live with the consequences.

We’re talking about such BIG marriage problems that your relationship is truly threatened. Little ongoing frustrations may eat away at you, but those are for another time. This is about the BIG stuff.

  • You find pornography on your spouse’s computer
  • You discover your spouse has been abusing drugs or alcohol – again
  • Your spouse has lied to you about something big – a huge financial mistake, telling you they were one place when they were somewhere else, etc.
  • A fight with your spouse becomes physical and you felt truly afraid
  • You find evidence your spouse is having an affair

Your mind is swirling. How could they do this to you? Shouldn’t you have seen the red flags earlier? Aren’t you supposed to forgive people, even your spouse, when they mess up? How could you ever do that? Hurt, confusion, anger, fear, despair, guilt, shame – it’s overwhelming.

One article such as this can’t tell you everything you need to know about dealing with such BIG marriage problems. But I can give you a framework for the questions to ask and the ways to think about what to do next. You can use these steps to get clarity about your marriage situation and about the actions you may need to take.

If Your Spouse has Messed Up Badly:

  1. What’s really going on here?

No sugar-coating the truth; it’s time to face reality.

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To Be Like Jesus: 50 Character Traits

To Be Like Jesus: 50 Character Traits

Perhaps you remember the old gospel song whose lyrics went, “To be like Jesus, to be like Jesus, all I ask is to be like Him.”

That’s an awesome thing – to be like Jesus. If you knew someone who is truly like Jesus, wouldn’t you want to spend time around them? Wouldn’t you want to be more like them? Indeed, Paul says that’s exactly God’s goal for us: “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.” (Romans 8:29)

How well are you doing in that department? Periodically it’s smart to check our transformation progress.

The longer you and I continue in the Christian life, the more we should be coming to being like Jesus. But what does that look like? How can you tell if you’re making progress?

Being like Jesus includes both “soft” and “hard” characteristics – traits that feel warm and inviting, and those that feel tough. Think of the Bible characters you know, or revered Christians who have lived since Jesus’ time. Every personality is represented, but many of the underlying character traits are similar. God can begin with you at whatever stage you are right now, but as you mature these character traits should be increasingly evident.

Here’s a starting list of positive character qualities that being like Jesus would include. Some of these you and I are probably exhibiting fairly well, and others we need to grow further into. See how you might stack up on this list.

What it looks like to Be Like Jesus

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