Why You Should Throw Away Your Christian Checklist

Why You Should Throw Away Your Christian Checklist

It’s well past time for you to throw away your Christian checklist. But first, quickly, what are the things you DO as a Christian?

If you’ve spent any time in church at all, you probably immediately list prayer, Bible study, and attending church services. And if you’re a relatively new believer you may find those activities incredibly meaningful and even exciting. If you’re really into spiritual disciplines you may also think of fasting, praying in the Spirit, giving, sharing your faith with others, and perhaps more.

But too often our spiritual lives can become all about doing certain things. As long as you pray, read your Bible, and go to church you somehow check off a list in your head and feel you’re at least a reasonably OK Christian. Don’t do those things and you have to start expending emotional energy to quiet the little imps of guilt building up in your soul.

But have you ever known someone to become a believer because they just couldn’t wait to do those certain behaviors? “I’ve just got to become a Christian so I can spend 30 minutes a day reading my Bible and sit in church an hour every Sunday.” Not a chance! Any time our spiritual life becomes about a list of behaviors it quickly becomes dry, empty, and potentially destructive.

And yet there are things Christians do. Our behaviors do make a difference.

So how are we to think about our Christian behaviors without letting them become dry, empty, or worse? Why do we do the things we do? What’s the point?

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How to Receive Healing from God

How to Receive Healing from God

We all need to receive healing from God. (And if you believe you’re the exception, you need an extra special kind of healing!) I believe healing is perhaps the deepest meaning of redemption. Something has happened to us on the inside that has left us seriously broken. And even forgiveness, as wonderful as it is, provides only a partial answer. Those steps to healing have some common characteristics for each of us.

The need for healing comes in many varieties;

  • The child abused or neglected during his most formative years
  • The woman used for someone else’s pleasure so long she believes that’s all she’s good for
  • The addict whose soul, body, mind, future, and finances are completely controlled by an outside substance or behavior
  • The “good” church member exhausted from endlessly doing good things so she will look good
  • The spouse left hopeless, angry, and bitter from decades of marriage misery
  • The man whose unhealthy lifestyle has left him with humanly incurable diseases
  • The woman whose genes, choices, and circumstances leave her depressed and anxious
  • The parent, spouse, child, sibling, or friend grieving the death of a loved one
  • The person who sees no future beyond poverty, persecution, violence, or slavery

Jesus applied Isaiah’s passage to Himself when He said, “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.” (Luke 4:18-19)

We can hope that happens in one mysterious moment. And sometimes it does.

More often it’s a process, one in which you and I fully participate.

These steps are almost always important as you receive healing from God:

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4 Steps to Finding Your Purpose as a Believer

4 Steps to Finding Your Purpose as a Believer

Finding your purpose is a big deal. We call it many different things: gift, talent, anointing, mission, purpose. Those words all have different connotations, but they are getting at a similar core issue. Why are you here? What are you put on this planet to do? How do you find your Why as a believer?

Even scientific research demonstrates the benefits of a sense of meaning and purpose. But far too many people – perhaps you – languish as if in suspended animation, seemingly clueless as to why they are alive. Or perhaps you’re frantically running from one thing to another trying to create some sense of meaning from busyness, money, fun, or other accomplishments. How’s that working out for you?

Without a sense of meaning and purpose people die early. They struggle with hopelessness, fear, anxiety, depression, and much more.

What does it take to experience a life of meaning? How do you know what you were put here to do? Have you missed it? Is it too late for you? These Biblical examples will help you understand how God works to bring the Why into your life, and how you can come to know what that is.

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A Widow’s First Year Alone

A Widow’s First Year Alone

In some sense “widow’s first year alone” is deeply false. I’m not really alone. I never have been, and I never will be.

But grief is hard. My husband died exactly one year ago. I don’t think I’ve ever been through anything so exhausting – not OB-Gyn residency where I’d spend long nights in the hospital with little or no sleep, not the weeks caring for my husband as he became increasingly unable to completely care for himself. They say losing a loved spouse is like losing an arm or a leg. I think it’s more like losing most of who you are.

Grief hurts. In some very real ways I’ve come to terms with the pain, and most of the time I focus more on the future than on the past. But there’s a treasure in grief that you can’t purchase any other way. Words don’t do it justice, and you’d never choose the pain you have to endure in order to get it. But for those of you who are walking a similar journey, perhaps these ideas will help you find your own treasure.

This is in response to some of you who have asked me to share more about my journey as a widow. I’ll try here to share some thoughts about what helped, and God’s place in the journey of grief.

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HOPE for the In-Between Times

HOPE for the In-Between Times

SunriseThe in-between times can often be one of the most challenging. The Christmas celebrations are over. The New Year is not quite here. For many of us long weeks or months of winter weather lie ahead.

The emotional letdown after a holiday can be difficult. Perhaps your expectations were met but you’re still wondering, “Is that all there is?” Or you’re trying to take a breath after a whirlwind of activity. Or you may be relieved that the holiday season is just about over.

Holidays and celebrations are good. We need them. God directed His people to set aside times for gathering together, celebrating the past, and looking forward to the future.

But we don’t live there all the time. We can’t. Our human psyche was not built to sustain that level of intensity.

So we’re left with “What now?” It’s a very long time until Christmas next year. How do we go about living today, tomorrow, and the next day? How do we keep going in the in-between times?

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