3 Secrets about Community in the Church

unsplash.com, cristina-cerda-43101Most professing Christians in the U. S. don’t attend church—the hub for the community of faith described in the Bible.[1] They find her irrelevant or without anything unique to offer.[2] Some people leave because of bad experiences. Reflecting on this, a friend noted that she’s had bad experiences at the grocery store, too, but she hasn’t stopped going there.

Because we’re human, all people contribute to bad experiences. Nevertheless, we rightly expect that there should be something special about church people—something extraordinary. Too often, though, the most distinguishing characteristic of people in the church is a shallow reverence for God. Instead of a community of souls knitted together for God’s glory, these churches are more like social clubs or community centers, completely missing out on God’s unparalleled desires for them. read more…

3 Kinds of Lies You Can’t Survive

unsplash.com, alexandru-zdrobau-84424Have you seen the great new app that alerts you when someone’s lying to you? Just kidding, of course. We might think we’d like to have such an app, but we surely wouldn’t like having it used to expose our own untruthfulness.

Deception’s got a bad reputation. From a secular perspective, deception’s perceived as bad because we don’t like to be on the receiving end of it, we expect that the deceiver is after his own gain, and we suspect that harm will result. The odd thing is that the most harmful lie usually is the one that we go along with in hopes of receiving some benefit. For those of us who want to spend eternity with Christ, though, we need to be very careful that we are not conceding to a lie that will bring on the wrath of God.[1]

We’re deceived in a more passive way, but still willfully, when we let familiarity morph into complacency. We rest on what we learned about God as a child or young adult without pursuing greater knowledge of him. We buy into cultural Christianity or legalism, believing that we’ll see heaven so long as we do x, y, and z, with the particulars of our partial “truth” varying from one person to another. read more…

Enjoying God Now

Sunlit StepsA couple of weeks ago, God put on my heart that I should pray for help to enjoy my husband more. That day, Paul was taking the afternoon off for us to attend our youngest son’s state swim meet together. In preparation for the ride, I gathered my laptop and paperwork and prioritized my list of things to do. I tend to seize every unclaimed minute to tackle another task.

God did a surprising thing. He answered my prayer by freeing me to be present in the moments Paul and I had together, helping me again to see my husband as someone I wanted to be enjoyed by as well as to enjoy. I was pleased and convicted when Paul, not knowing about my prayer, said toward the end of the day, “You can be a lot of fun!” I’m now committed to including this request in my prayers regularly and to being more open to divine interruptions in my plans. read more…

Satisfying Your Heart’s Desire

pexels-photo-173385, HatHappiness can be a hoax. We recognize this most acutely when our realized dreams disappoint us and when the pleasures we sought just don’t satisfy. But there’s good news!

God wants us to be happy.[1] In fact, he commands it.[2] God’s commands are for our good.[3] He knows that all that glitters is not gold. In order to know lasting joy, we need to consider what’s pleasing to God. God’s glory is his highest goal,[4] and his will never contradicts that priority.[5]

Obedience to God glorifies him and leads us into joy.[6] God both reveals his will to us and helps us to obey. We aren’t capable of obedience on our own, so if we aren’t regularly seeking God’s help, we’re not standing against sin as we ought.[7] I’d be very concerned about my standing before the Lord if I couldn’t recall recent times of conviction by the Holy Spirit that led to repentance and God-powered course corrections, because “no one who is yielded to the Holy Spirit can remain the same.”[8] read more…

The Best Evidence of Saving Faith

How can we know that our salvation is sure? We need to be sure of our standing before God, because Jesus says that some who think they’re Christians will spend eternity in hell.[1]

So what distinguishes people who are Christians from those who just think they are? For those whose salvation is real—whose faith is the saving kind—God promises an ongoing transformation of our hearts to make us more like Jesus.[2]

God frees us from sin for the purpose of bringing us into everlasting unity with himself. Through the work of the Holy Spirit in us, he purifies one pattern of thought or behavior after another, allowing for more gradual change, when needed, for deeply rooted sins. He continually makes us better fit to do his work on earth and, ultimately, entirely fit to be with him in heaven. read more…

Hearing the Voice of God

Watchtower, pexels-photo-289319While the Bible is the primary way that God reveals himself to us, people have heard the voice of God throughout history. There are dozens of biblical examples in which people literally heard God, from Adam (Genesis) all the way through to St. John on the Isle of Patmos (Revelation). But who can discern the voice of the Almighty?

Jesus says his sheep know his voice,[1] which means that the Christian who doesn’t know when God’s speaking is “in trouble at the heart of his Christian life.”[2] And in relation to dilemmas the Bible doesn’t address, only with the benefit of hearing God can we have confidence that we are doing his will.[3] As sheep of the Good Shepherd, we are called to depend upon all of the ways he speaks to us,[4] including his voice, to guide and protect us.[5] read more…

Seeking Jesus in our Circumstances

pexels-photo-197893I spent my first twenty-five years clueless about the relevance of God’s sovereignty for my day-to-day life. I didn’t know that all things hold together in Jesus,[1] that all things work together for good for those who love God,[2] and that God is involved in[3] and cares about the details of our lives.[4] I didn’t know that God has even predetermined the times and locations of our lives.[5]

Since God works all things according to his will,[6] is going to accomplish his plan,[7] and rules over all in heaven and on earth,[8] there are no coincidences or random events. But simply knowing these things is not enough if we want to live for Jesus. Discernment of and participation in God’s plans requires a heart that’s yielded to God and trusts in his goodness.[9]

The tragedy of the 9/11 terrorist attacks awakened me to a hard truth: God sometimes allows bad things to happen. As I grappled with questions about God’s role in this event, a friend who was growing weary of my mental gymnastics said, “Of course he let it happen, Karen! Nothing happens that he does not cause or allow!” read more…

Seeking Jesus through Fellow Believers

P1090641I’ll never forget how God spoke to me though the prayers of another mom. Our fourth son couldn’t learn his alphabet in kindergarten. He remembered some letters one day but forgot them by the next. Late in my pregnancy, our doctor recommended an abortion because of an indication of Down syndrome. Now this learning problem seemed to confirm that something indeed was wrong. The enemy hurled fears into my mind. How could our son ever read, work, even survive if he couldn’t learn the alphabet! But when this other mom asked God to give us the confidence that he had given Philip everything needed to accomplish God’s purposes in his life, my fears fell away. What more could we want for our son?

Then there was the time when a man in our church shared with a group of us that he struggled, as did the Apostle Paul, both with doing what he did not want to do and with not doing what he did want to do.[1] I understood in that moment that I needed to come to terms with that struggle with sin in myself—acknowledging the activity of the serpent and silencing him with God’s help.

read more…

Seeking Jesus through Prayer

P1100865Early in my life, my grandmother gave me the bookmark that appears in this photo. The poem[1]  talks about meeting God in the morning so as to have him through the day, reflecting the author’s delight in the presence and sufficiency of his God. With such a great treasure to be claimed, I wonder why so many professing Christians seem to have settled into a less fulfilling relationship with God.

Maybe what’s missing is the holy thread that God desires to weave from his Word, into our prayers and through our souls. Maybe we’re holding back from becoming living sacrifices whose minds are set on discerning the will of God.[2] Maybe we pray without the benefit of faith, trust, or the expectation of God’s redirection and answers,[3] choosing instead to go about our business in reliance on ourselves.[4] read more…

Seeking Jesus through the Word

IMG_20161207_100234483“The way we treat the Bible is the way we treat Jesus, for He is the living Word and the theme of the written Word.”[1] Christ’s followers need no further motivation to become devoted to time in our Bibles.

Jesus said that we need the Word to live.[2] Of course, he was talking about spiritual life, not physical sustenance. But just like we must consume food for bodily health, we must take in God’s Word in order to flourish spiritually. read more…

About Karen Lindia

I’m willfully passionate about living for Christ. I want you to be, too! Life is most satisfying when we experience God’s ongoing accomplishment of his purposes in and through us.

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