Seriously, who doesn’t want to hook their holy hottie? Luckily some of us already have (yep I’m talking about myself) but for those of you who haven’t there is still hope! The three steps to hooking your hottie aren’t complicated but some of them are hard. Don’t be put off by difficulty though; some of the best things in life come through challenges. Besides, doing the easy thing will only lead you to your defiled doofus and that’s the person you just dumped (or maybe they dumped you). So how do you hook your holy hottie? Keep reading.
1. Stop Looking For Your Hottie!
I know what you’re thinking… “What is this guy talking about!” Here’s the deal, your holy hottie is out there but you might not be ready for them. The cold hard truth is that if you find your hottie but you are not the right kind of person chances are high that you will lose them because of your own personal deficiencies.
Before you try to find Mr/Mrs Right you need to become Mr/Mrs Right. If you have enough baggage to open your own luggage store or if you have so many issues that you can open your own magazine stand you need to get your head on straight before you go looking for your hottie. But even if you don’t think you’re as messed up as some of your “friends” you should still evaluate your heart before you attempt to give it away. To that end, stop looking for you holy hottie and start becoming someone else’s holy hottie. Become Mr/Mrs Right then when you find yours, you will be able to hold on to them!
2. Redefine Hottie
Some of us are straight up attracted to the wrong kind of people. In my younger years, I only liked crazy women. If there was a room full of girls, I could pick out the crazy ones because they were the ones I was attracted to. Now you might not be falling in love with psychos and stalkers like I did, but are you attracted to the right qualities in a future spouse? Chances are you leave it up to “Chemistry”. You’re attracted to certain people and there is nothing you can do about it. Well, if you want to hook your holy hottie you need to make sure you know what you’re looking for and for many of us that means we need to redefine what a hottie is. Think about it, you might already know your holy hottie, you might sit next to them in church or work with them but because you have the wrong definition of what a hottie is you are oblivious to them.
Here’s a question, “Can you choose who you are attracted to?” The answer may surprise you- it is YES. I know, some of you are committed to statements like, “The heart wants what the heart wants”. But I have good news for you; you are not a slave to your feelings. Proverbs says that only a fool follows their heart. You see you and I were never designed to follow our hearts but to lead them. They are supposed to increase the enjoyment of life not control it. You might be saying, “I’m open to the idea of following my heart but how do I do that?” Great question, here’s the answer: feelings follow thoughts and behavior. That means that if you change your thoughts and change your behavior you will change your feelings (i.e. Heart). To rephrase, if you are attracted to the wrong kind of people you need to change your thoughts and behaviors then you will change what attracts you to people.
The question then becomes what should I be attracted to? There are two separate lists, one for men and one for women. For men, the major thing that we are attracted to is looks. When a guy hears the word “Hottie” he thinks physical beauty. Well boys, the bible is full of warnings about not letting a woman’s beauty captivate you. Proverbs 6:25 “Do not desire her beauty in your heart, and do not let her capture you with her eyelashes” & Proverbs 31:30 “Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman that fears the Lord shall be praised”. Physical attractiveness is important but it is not the ultimate quality to look for in a future mate. Beauty is passing- no matter how good she looks now one day she will lose her good looks. And when that happens what will you do? Charm is deceitful- she might be a flirt and make you feel like a manly man, but all her charm is deceitful, there’s no substance to it. But a woman that fears the Lord will be praised. The one thing that a man should look for in a woman is godly character because that goes deeper than beauty and is more substantial than charm. What does Godly character look like?
- Proverbs 12:4 (NIV) “A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown, but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.” Noble character has to do with the way in which the woman conducts herself in her dealings with people. This reflects the way she dresses, the way she talks, the way she treats people and responds to situations, and the kinds of friends and associations she has. A woman who brings shame to herself in those areas also brings contempt to her man and “is like decay in his bones.” Her good looks might seem worth it at first, but as the decay eats away over time, the man is embittered by the disgrace of his woman.
- Proverbs 11:16 (NIV) “A kindhearted woman gets honor.” A kindly woman is one who ministers selflessly to others. She does not complain about sacrifices or make constant demands for herself. Her heart is opened outward toward the hurts and needs of others.
- Proverbs 14:1 “The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down.” What a godly man looks for, then, is a woman who is building, who is making, and who is contributing in positive ways. The contrast is clear: the opposite of an industrious woman is one who tears things down.
- Proverbs 31:11 “The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain” An excellent woman is trustworthy—faithful.
For women, the one word that describes what attracts them the most is confidence. When a man carries himself with confidence, when he is assertive and decisive, when others look him up to, women find him attractive. The problem with confidence is that many men have great confidence but little or no godly character. Bottom line for women is that you need to find a man that you will be safe in his hands. What should a woman find attractive in a man?
- Proverbs 8:34 “Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors.” Regular church attendance. If a man cannot make time to faithfully attend and make a serious contribution to a church, he is not a good candidate for the challenges or obligations of marriage. Why? Proverbs 14:26 (NIV) sums it up: “He who fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for his children it will be a refuge.” A man’s relationship with God will provide protection to you and your kids. If his relationship with God is not strong, you and your kids are left unprotected.
- Proverbs 10:4 “A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.” Look for a man with a strong work ethic & money management skills. You want someone who things about the future not just momentary pleasures. If he is lazy in his work, he will be lazy in his marriage.
- Proverbs 11:12 “Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent.” Self-control over his tongue. Women, realize that the way a man speaks to and about others says much about his character. If he is harsh with people he doesn’t know he will be much more harsh with you and your kids. Treat men like this like they have the plague- run and hide from him!
- Proverbs 11:17 “A man who is kind benefits himself, but a cruel man hurts himself.” Kindness— a woman ought to look for kindness and a heart that freely ministers with a thoughtful word and an attentive ear.
Once you have redefined what a hottie is, then you will be able to see past “chemistry” and choose someone who will make all your exes look like the chumps they are.
3. Target Rich Environments
Lest face it, you won’t be able to find a Ferrari on a used car lot and you wont be able to catch fish in the Sahara desert. If you want fish you have to go where the fish are and if you want a Ferrari you need a better job (a much better job). If you want to find your holy hottie, you need to go to what I like to call target rich environments; go to where the holy hotties are. What does that mean for you? Stop looking for your hottie at the club scene. Stop looking for your hottie on the Internet (Quick side note: just because they advertise that its God’s match for you doesn’t mean it actually is). If you want to find your hottie go to where they will be. Where is that you ask? Join a ministry: help the homeless, care for the sick, teach underprivileged kids to read, build houses in Mexico, etc. Put yourself in places where you can connect with high quality people with solid character and who are sold out for Jesus.
As I said at the beginning of this post, finding your hottie is not complicated but it is difficult. If, However, you choose to take my advice you won’t regret it. In no time you will have hooked your very own holy hottie.
Last week as I was reading through my daily Bible devotional, I came across a gripping passage that caused me to reflect on the beauty of the gospel. In Ezek. 44:28, God describes the inheritance of the Leviticus priests, “I am to be the only inheritance the priests have. You are to give them no possession in Israel; I will be their possession.” Now at first glance this may not be that interesting to you. How does the inheritance of a Levitical priest over 4,000 years ago impact my life at all? But there is much more to this than what we may think.
In reading the Old Testament there are two things we should seek to accomplish. The first is understanding the story on its own terms. In other words, what did it mean to Israel at their time and in their culture? The second, and I believe for our purposes the most important, is reading it with Christ in mind. The question we should ask is how is Christ revealed or glorified in this passage? I would like to direct our focus on the second question.
How is Christ revealed in this passage and how does this impact my life?
The answer to these questions are found in 1 Pet. 2:9, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
The priesthood is no longer limited to the Levites in the Old Testament but instead we are now the priesthood. Just as God was to be their inheritance, we also find our inheritance in Christ. We belong to JESUS, our God and King! He is our possession and we are His possession. That has always been God’s intended design for our relationship to Him in His kingdom. Our God delights in us, therefore we solely delight in him!
But are we always satisfied and thankful to have no inheritance or portion in this world? Do we try sometimes to fit in with what the world is doing? Or do we try to fit Jesus within this world? Is Jesus a means to an end, or is Jesus end itself? These are important questions to answer because they will dictate if we are following Jesus or perhaps something false and destructive. As long as we are diligently seeking earthly possessions we will miss and reject the only possession worth our affections: Jesus!
With a thankful heart, let’s give Jesus the recognition and proclaim his praises today because he has brought us from death to life. Let’s be thankful for God’s provision in our lives, but not allow those things to determine our inheritance. In wealth or poverty, health or sickness, life or death let us continuously return to the grace of our great Lord and Savior and say we love you Jesus!
The best way to describe envy is malicious jealousy. While jealousy causes a desire to have something that belongs to someone else, envy causes a desire to see what that person has taken from them. The heart of envy is resentment; it is not so much the thought of “I want what they have” but one of “they don’t deserve what they have”. An example of envy in everyday life can be seen in unrequited love. You have a crush on someone and are pining for them. But you make the mistake of telling your friend who, before you are able to muster the courage to confess your undying love, begins to date them. Besides betrayal, you feel envy; you start to entertain thoughts that your friend doesn’t deserve someone so special and you begin to secretly, or not so secretly, hope your friend gets dumped so they will experience the heartache you are. That is the essence of envy—being grieved at the good of others and having ill-will towards them. Love does not envy, which means that it is not grieved at the good in our lives and has no ill will towards us.
Because God is love, God does not envy—He is our biggest advocate not our biggest critic; He does not stand over us and criticize but stands beside us and supports. Envy comes from a heart of resentment and criticism and God has neither for us. Take a moment and let that thought sink in—God has no resentment or criticism for you. Those who envy have an emotional commitment of ill will, they earnestly desire to see bad happen to another; God has the opposite emotional commitment, He has good will towards us, His earnest desire is to see good happen to us. God is emotionally committed to our success not to our failure—He sees our success as His success, our promotion as His promotion, the good that happens to us as good that happens to Him.
Sometimes we forget that God is our greatest supporter and when too much good happens in our life we hold our breath, waiting for the ‘other shoe to drop,’ waiting for God to take the good away from us. That is a misunderstanding of who God is; it assumes that God wants to limit His goodness in our lives and that He wants us to suffer. God does not want to see us suffer and He is equally uninterested in limiting the good that we experience from Him; it is not in God’s nature to limit good. He wants to lavish not limit the good in our lives. The reason He want to shower us with good is because He is emotionally committed to us, He has bound His emotional well being with ours; when we suffer, He suffers; when we rejoice, He rejoices. God is joyful not resentful about the good in our lives. We don’t deserve it but He wants us to have it anyway and there is no limit of good that a limitlessly good God has to give.
Once we realize that God is our greatest advocate it should cause a great sense of peace in us. We can trust God; He is not grieved at the good in our lives and has no ill will towards us. We can rest in the knowledge that God is not looking to take anything from us, that His only desire is to bless us.
Take a few minutes and thank God for His great love towards you.
 Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible : Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1996), 1 Co 13:4–7.
Sometimes in our lives, we tend to sit back and wait for life to happen. However, this is not an example of a life of intention. Waiting for life to happen to us is an example of a life in hiding. God’s Word tells us to seek Him. Luke 11:10 says, “Everyone who seeks, finds.” This leads to a life of exploration, excitement and the extraordinary. So, my question to you is, Are you hiding or seeking?
In life today, it is very easy to become complacent with the mundane life. This is not the life God created for you. God created you for an extraordinary life, not a humdrum life. When we explore the life of Jesus, there was always something fresh happening. One way we can tell if we are living a life after Christ is to evaluate if our every day life follows the same routine patterns. Going to work, having a meal, a general conversation on the phone, going home, having dinner, and going to bed; then, getting up the next day and doing that all over again. BORING! That is not the abundant life God imagined for you.
We can either hide in this ordinary lifestyle or we can seek Him and have a remarkable life with our amazing God. In order to experience this exciting new life with Christ, it requires some conditioning. This is simply the process of learning a little more about who God is. Without knowing and learning about who He is, you are not able to experience Him the way He truly designed you to or the relationship He desires to have with you.
The problem is that most people do not believe this kind of life is possible. Whether life is based on personal failures, a continual life of trying but never getting anywhere, or just plain disbelief, there is a barrier that effects the potential to transition to an extraordinary life. What’s the barrier? YOU!
Now before you get totally upset with me and say, “How dare you say that I am the problem when I have been trying! I have been going to church, listening to Miles, visiting community groups, and even serving on Sundays.”
As much as this may hurt, the fact is, you are the only one that can prevent yourself from experiencing this life.
Experiencing the abundant life God has in mind for you is learning who God is and about His character. This, my friend, requires for you to go into training. As author James Smith would suggest in The Good and Beautiful God, you need soul training. You must train what is on the inside to recognize God’s truths first and foremost, and not allow society to be the greatest influence on your life. Instead, allow God and His Word to be the greatest influence. This, my friend, requires TRAINING.
By continuing to read this, you are admitting you want more from life! For a moment, I want you to consider an Olympic athlete. One of the most notable attributes about an Olympic athlete is their intentional training. They focus on form, breathing, muscle strengthening and specific details in every aspect of their particular sport. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 9, that we have to train to do what we should be doing. True athletes train to improve their personal best, because that is what they can influence. Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 4, “that physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better.” So again, a mundane life is not because of a lack of effort on your part, but perhaps on the lack of appropriate placement of that effort. As an example of misplaced efforts, allow me to use the TV. In a day, you may watch 2-4 of your favorite TV shows. This would equate to a minimum of 2 ½ hours watching television, compared to time spent learning the facts of who God is.
Chances are, your Christian life has not been made common based on a lack of effort (as described above), but for lack of specific and directed training. Listen; because you are created in God’s image, by default you are creative and a conqueror. This unspectacular and limited life that you have been bound to in your mind can be overcome! It is up to YOU to do the training. No one else, YOU!
Does this mean that life will not throw you curve balls? No. Does this mean that your life will change overnight? It’s possible, but probably not. What it does mean is that you can create a pattern in your life of learning about God and who He is. This is what will train your mind, your soul and your inner spirit, which allows you to live a life of intention. This is the training that creates the drive and focus of intentional behaviors and habits that move you from a mundane lifestyle to extraordinary living. It’s the intentionality of finding out exactly who God is for yourself instead of waiting for someone to tell you about who God is. Yes, you can change the course of the rest of your life. Start training today!
My challenge to you: for every Facebook post, Tweet, or YouTube video you read or watch today, read the same number of verses in the Bible. This is one way that can help to further clarify and open your eyes to where some intentional efforts may be made to train yourself to focus on God’s Word on a regular basis.
I can already hear the furious fingers typing a scathing response to this post. But before you hit send, hear me out. I understand where people are coming from when they say marriage is a ministry, or sometimes that marriage is your primary ministry. What they are saying is, “Marriage is extremely important and requires lots of time and attention to flourish”. I get it and agree with the premise however it does not follow that because marriage is important that it should be considered a ministry. I know that for some, this is topic is sacrosanct; a type of sacred cow, if you will, that must be revered. Well, I think it’s high time to kill this particular sacred cow. Here are the top 5 reason that marriage is NOT a ministry…
1. THE BIBLE DOES NOT CALL MARRIAGE A MINISTRY
No where in the Bible is marriage referred to as a ministry. In fact, the two topics are not even addressed within the same paragraphs of scripture. The Bible treats them as separate, unrelated topics. To call marriage a ministry would be akin to calling sleeping a ministry. Technically I guess you could call anything a ministry but you’d be adding something to the word of God that is not there. Bottom line, if marriage is a ministry God forgot to add that bit to His word.
2. THE BIBLE’S DEFINITION OF MINISTRY EXCLUDES MARRIAGE FROM BEING ONE
If you look up ministry in the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament and Louw-Nida you can put the Biblical definition of ministry into two large categories. The first is an appointed office or position and the second is any act of service done to glorify the Lord.
In the first category- an appointed position, ministry can be split into two subsections; the ministry of the gospel and the ministry of the word. The ministry of the gospel is about preaching the gospel to the unsaved so that they come to a saving knowledge of Jesus. Now, unless you are in a missionary marriage, you know ‘flirt to convert’, then marriage does not fit into that biblical definition. Nor does marriage fit into the ministry of the word, where one has the official position of teaching other believers what the bible says and how to be more like Christ (If this is your idea of marriage as a ministry you need to jump down to number 4).
The second categorical definition of ministry is where, I’m assuming, most people justify marriage as a ministry. In the broadest sense this type of ministry means service of some sort. It can be financial, it can be serving food, or using your spiritual gifts to bless someone. There are two reasons that marriage does not fit this definition. The first is that there is a difference between ministering to someone and having a ministry. The biblical use of this category is the former and not the latter. For example when I lived in LA, there was a one armed homeless man that washed windows at the freeway entrance I took to work everyday. Most weeks, I would give him money 2-3 times a week. I was ministering to him on a regular basis, but I did not have a homeless ministry. In the same way, just because you minister to (serve) your spouse on a regular basis does not mean that is your ministry. Secondly, if you have a ministry to everyone you serve than your marriage is not your only ministry, indeed every single relationship you have is a ministry. The reason people say that marriage is a ministry is because marriage is important, when every relationship is a ministry, then the importance of marriage is reduced. Additionally, ministry is about having a specific focus. Its a simple fact, if every relationship is a ministry, then all of your relationships, including your marriage, stops being a ministry they are just relationships.
To sum up- the biblical definition of ministry just doesn’t fit marriage. It is biblically inaccurate to say that marriage is a ministry. You can co-opt ministry and give it a different definition to fit your preference, but in the end your standing on the sinking sand of personal preference not the solid rock of God’s word.
3. GOD CREATED MARRIAGE FOR COMPANIONSHIP NOT FOR MINISTRY
When God created Adam he gave him ministry in the loosest sense of the word. Adam was placed in the garden to tend and keep it, then he was given the task of naming all the animals. It’s in the context of his God given ministry that Adam is given a wife. Interestingly, God did not say, “It is not good that Adam doesn’t have a wife to minister to.” But He did say, “It is not good for man to be alone.” Why did God create the institution of marriage? One word: Companionship. According to God, the main purpose of marriage is companionship, or friendship. There was ministry involved in the beginning, but it is completely disassociated from Adam and Eve’s marriage. Ministry was something they did together but it was not a description of their marriage. Any interpretation that is contrary to that is not based on the biblical account.
So, after the first three points there is no need to for the last two reasons why marriage is not a ministry. I mean, biblically speaking the case is closed, the coffin is buried. But I committed to give five reasons why marriage is not a ministry and my momma didn’t raise no quiter! So, on to the final points…
4. YOUR SPOUSE IS A PERSON NOT A PROJECT
There is an inherent danger in all ministries; people are viewed as projects. Even when you know that, it is still easy to slip into seeing those you minister to as projects because you’re always trying to help people get to the next level with God, always trying to ‘fix’ them, their issues, and their paradigms. When you bring then mentality of ministry into your marriage, it can set you up for hard times. What is important to remember is that your spouse needs to be treated as a person not a project. Thinking of you marriage as a ministry makes it difficult to see and treat them as a person because you’re to busy trying to change or help them. Your spouse to someone you walk with life through not someone you minister to.
5. MARRIAGE IS NOT AN EXCUSE TO NOT DO MINISTRY
Whenever someone tells me that their marriage is their ministry I ask if they are doing other ministry. 9 times out of 10 the response is, “No”. Bottom line, being in a marriage is not a good reason to not be in a ministry. It’s a cop out to justify doing nothing with your life by saying your marriage is your ministry. If there is no difference between your activities and the activities of your neighbor that is going to hell, you are lying to yourself.
All of us are called to have amazing marriages, to love and serve our spouses. Its the base line requirement, nothing special. On top of having an off the hook, God glorifying marriage you and I are also called to be serving in ministry.
If you’d like to learn more about how to choose a spouse check out my blog post on How to Hook Your Holy Hottie or sing up for my class on How to make decisions (including choosing a spouse) that are in line with God’s will.
The second characteristic of love in 1 Corinthians 13 is that it is “kind”. Kindness in its most basic sense is to bless or benefit someone without thought of repayment. Some practical examples of everyday kindness would be helping a little old lady across the street, holding an elevator for someone, or letting someone go before you in a check out line at the grocery store. Three things must be present in order for an act to qualify as being kind. First, the act needs to bless someone else. Second, it needs to not directly benefit the one being kind. Third, there needs to be no expectation of repayment from the one doing the act. For example, it would not be kind to help the little old lady across the street then ask her for money, or worse, to take her half way across the street and threaten to leave her there if she doesn’t pay for the second half of the journey. The essence of kindness is to bless with no personal benefit and no expectation of compensation, which is what love does.
So, not only does love suffer long, enduring mistreatment and insults without becoming resentful or vengeful, but it also actively seeks out opportunities to bless and be a benefit to those who are offending it. Which brings up a needful distinction between a blessing and a reward. A reward is something that is earned, like a paycheck—there is nothing kind about an employer giving what is deserved. In contrast, a blessing is something that is not based on merit or behavior, like a gift given out of love. God’s kindness cannot be earned.
God, in His love, is kind towards us; He actively seeks out opportunities to bless us. Take a moment and think about the implication of that statement. How many opportunities does a sovereign, omnipotent, infinite, creative God have to bless us? God is not restrained in any way in His ability to bless—He actually creates and handcrafts opportunities for us to experience His kindness. When we think about God and His kindness, it is important to remember that He blesses in accordance with who He is not in accordance with who we are; His blessings are not contingent on our behavior. God does not bless us because we are good, He blesses us because He is good.
What does God, in His kindness, ask for in return? Nothing. His desire is to bless us not to burden us—He is seeking to do things for us not to get things from us. The reality is that we have nothing to give Him anyway, there is nothing that we have that is not already His. Additionally, He is in need of nothing, loses nothing when He gives to us, and therefore requires nothing from us. God’s heart is infinitely filled with love and His hand is open toward us.
God’s remarkable kindness towards us should cause excessive thankfulness in us, our hearts should be overflowing with gratitude and gratefulness. God, in His kindness, showers us with blessings regardless of our actions or our attitudes; and knowing that should cause a change in both our actions and our attitudes—we should be grateful and thankful people.
However there is a silent killer that suffocates our heart’s ability to be thankful—Entitlement. Entitlement slowly blinds our eyes to the true goodness of God’s kindness; we begin to convince ourselves that we deserve it, that we have somehow earned it. We begin to take His kindness for granted, treating it as something common. Thankfulness and entitlement are mutually exclusive; you will not be thankful if you feel entitled and you will not feel entitled if your are thankful. Therefore, chose to have a thankful heart today–spend a few minutes thanking God for His kindness in your life.
As I reflect back on the ebbs and flows of my spiritual journey, one constant has been spending daily time with God, reading the Bible and talking to God in prayer. Sometimes I awaken in the morning and can’t wait to spend that time alone with Jesus. Other times I get up and sit down to spend time with him, not because I’m eager to, but because I know that if I don’t I’ll drift away from an intimate relationship with him.
This morning I was pondering, “How does one change from a ‘have to’ attitude to a ‘want to’ attitude when it comes to spending time with God?” In Psalm 42, the sons of Korah describe their longing for God like a parched deer, thirsting for a cool drink of water. They draw the parallel with these words, “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” (Psalm 42:2).
My wife Brenda, describes a time in her spiritual journey that she began praying Psalm 42:1-2 as a request for God to change her desire to be like that of a deer panting for a refreshing stream of water. She says that one day she realized that God had changed her “have to” to “want to” as a result of those prayers. And now, years later, I observe that continued soul-thirsting after God as she spends time each morning reading and meditating on the Word.
I’ve heard some say that we shouldn’t push ourselves to spend time with the Lord if it isn’t a delight. I disagree! I’ve discovered that you can’t “feel your way” into longing for God, but rather, developing the habit of daily time in the Word and prayer, accompanied with a prayer that God will develop the spiritual thirst in our soul, results in a new longing and increased intimacy with the one who is the lover of my soul.
Here are a few questions to evaluate (with honesty!) your motives in spending time with God:
- What do I believe about spending time with God?
- Do I feel guilty when I don’t read my Bible daily? If so, why do you think that is?
- How would my relationship with God be different a year from now if I spent regular, daily time with him?
Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)
May God increase our delight in his presence!
Pastor Dave Stewart
Have you ever had a conversation with someone and then hours or even days latter a response pops into your head that you didn’t think of at the time? I recently experienced just that. I was talking to someone near and dear to me when they mentioned that Paul, after he was saved, went into the dessert for ten plus years in order to study and prepare himself to be used by God and like Paul we too need years of preparation before we will be in a place to be used by God. This wasn’t the first time I heard that sentiment and at the time I didn’t give it much thought. But a few days later, like a light bulb being turned on in my head, I realized the error of that line of reasoning.
Specifically, there are two problems with the view. First, it is factually inaccurate. To see the inaccuracy, one only needs to look at what Paul does after his conversion and after regaining his sight, “Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God… But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ.” (Acts 9:20-22). Apparently, the three days he spent fasting after he met Jesus but before he regained his sight was all the preparation he needed to confound the Jews and prove that Jesus was the Christ. Secondly, the thought is based more on personal presupposition than the word of God. The ten plus years are often referred to as the silent years for a reason—there is not a lot of information about them, however there are some clues that can be picked up on. For instance, every time we see Paul before he is sent to be an apostle to the Gentiles he is preaching in synagogues, saving souls, and making enemies, which is the identical thing he did after the church of Antioch sent him out. There was no substantive change in Paul’s behavior—his ministry did not begin after he was commissioned but after he was converted.
To be completely frank, we sometimes use Paul’s “preparation period” as an excuse to do nothing significant with our lives. It stands as an unassailable justification for living self-focused, myopic lives. But we need to see it for what it is—a rationalization—and what it does to us—prevents us from doing something eternal for the Lord. Don’t wait to make a difference for the Lord, grab a hold of every opportunity, life is short, make it count! A friend of mine, a Romanian pastor, recounted a story to me that I think is appropriate to close this devotional. After several years of getting equipped my friend went out into the backwoods of Romania and began preaching the gospel in small villages. After preaching in one particular village an elderly man walked up to him and said, “I believe what you said and if what you said is true, that means that all my family members and loved ones are in hell right now. I have only one question, what took you so long to come here and preach? So many people who now have no change could have been saved. Where have you been?”
It’s a sobering story that begs the question, “What am I doing today to make an eternal difference?” It’s a question that only you can answer. It there a coworker that needs to hear the gospel? It is time to take a step of faith into something new? Is God calling you to share his love overseas? Do you need to use your resources to advance God’s kingdom? There are no do overs in life—choose to make an eternal impact today.
Hold open your hands for a moment, I know it sounds weird, go ahead and try it. Ok, now if you are near a kitchen or even have paper, tear off a small piece or grab some sugar, just a few grains of sugar and drop them into the palm of your hand.
———> (I’ll give you a moment to give it a try)
Ok, hopefully if you have done this, you are wondering why, so bear with me and let’s read a passage together (while holding your hand open)…
John 10:28 says (Jesus speaking) “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish.No one can snatch them away from me”
You are directly in the hands of our savior, right now, in this moment, even it’s its frightening, fearful, exhausting or just bliss, Jesus promises that NO ONE can snatch us from His hand. He also says something easy to miss, “I give them eternal life”…what are you turning to give you life, to give you joy and to give you strength?
You see although NO ONE can snatch us from His hand, it is possible for us to simply walk away from His hand and care in search for something else, outside of His hand.
I want to encourage you today, don’t look for affirmation from people, because WE are flawed, look for it directly from your heavenly father. All that you need can be found directly IN Christ. Only Jesus can make you feel the way you really long to feel, so don’t go looking for it in people, places or things. Just rest in whom gives us eternal life.
(Now go ahead and close your hand tightly and thank God that He holds your world in His hands)
In Hebrews 12:1,2 we read this “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.”
I love this passage because it reminds us that God is the one who people see in our daily lives. You might think going to the grocery store isn’t anything that resembles worship or even taking your kids back and forth from school as anything very spiritual but in fact what we can understand from this passage is that if we keep our eyes on Jesus, which is the champion of our faith, we will live of life of faith that a “crowd of witnesses” will take note of.
That’s what serving God is all about, following Christ means being a witness, and allowing Christ to fully dwell and live in us and in so doing, people around us will see him through our lives. Our church is about lives that are transformed, people who were once “blind” and can now “see”, people who were once “lost” and now “live”, people who were once dead to “sin” and are now alive in “Christ”.
My prayer is that your life is one that the crowds of witnesses around you will say, Jesus lives because I see it in them.