Once you are saved, live strong


“So Then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with

sunrise

thankfulness.”  Colossians 2.6,7

Jesus is not a “one-time” feel good experience and then we move on.  He wants to invade every area of our life.  He wants us to go beyond the receiving part.  As I often visit people, they can leave me standing in the door, or the entrance of their homes.  Yes they have allowed me in, but not really “in”.  Most people invite me to the living room, or the kitchen table (my favorite), as they open their home, their personal living space to their pastor.  One person told me, “strangers come to the front door, family comes to the back, you come to the back.”  I love that.

Let Jesus in deeper.  Paul writes here that we are to be “Rooted” with that commitment and then “built up” in him. This is the process.  We are built up and strengthened in Christ every time we choose to drawn to Him.  How do I do it?

  • A time of solitude, silence, and reflection to hear from God.
  • Some simple prayers as I follow “Handbook to prayer” by Kenneth Boa or “Day by day” by Peter Scazzero, or the “Celtic Daily Office”.   One of these are used to aid my heart and my mind on Christ.
  • I breath in Him and breath out me as I pray.
  • I have my journal ready to write down my thoughts, impressions, and prayers.
  • I follow a guide to reading my Bible. This year I wrote my own. I focus on a book or couple books for the month, re-reading them over and over.
  • I read another book to spur me on.
  • I listen to Scripture when often.  When I walk, carve, or drive. I use an app called “Dwell”.
  • I investigate my walk, my emotions, my intentions, and my motivations for purity of heart and the glory of Christ.

Some days I do this great! Some days I struggle through, yes, I even miss a day once in a while, but these disciplines strengthen me and transform my heart to be more like Christ. They change my appetite for things of God and not of this world.  My roots grow deeper, my heart more grateful, my flesh weaker, and faith stronger.

As you have been saved, live for Christ and don’t skip the very things that make living for Christ incredible and enjoyable.

>Nate

Don’t love the ways of this world


“Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.”

1 John 2:15–17 (NASB95)

It is hard not to love this world, or this life.  Things are pretty convenient for many of us. We do not lack or worry about food, we have endless games, social media, and live streaming at our fingertips, and there is no end to leisure activities in which we can engage.  However, John is not teaching about that.  He is referring to the world as the broken down state of this earth.  The world here, in context, is darkness, sin, and systems opposite of the will of God.  First John is written to the believer, so for the believer to really love this world, one must compromise their love for the Father.

The world is defined of the cravings, and nature of sinful man, the lust and desire for more of what we want that satisfies the desires of the sinful man, and the pride of our accomplishments on this earth and what we can do, declaring we don’t need God, or His ways.  This is the product of the world, the worldly, and the lost.

May we not forget the last verse above, verse 17.  The world and all its sinful ways are going to pass.  They will be lost, extinguished, forgotten. They will pass when we do, they will pass when God brings all things here to an end, they will pass in His plan.  They are not eternal, but temporal, but the damage a commitment to the ways of this world can do on a soul, is eternal.  It’s all going to burn.

Nevertheless, the person who does God’s will never pass.  They will “live forever”.  Everything about the Father is eternal and everything about this world is temporal.   Are you a person that does the will of this world or are you about doing the will of God. IF you are doing the will of the world, the teaching of Christ, and the apostles are clear. You will be lost and pass away with the sinful, lustful, prideful ways of this selfish and fallen land, with its systems.  But if you choose to live for God, choose to do His will, you will never perish, but live eternally as your life will become eternal, dedicated and set apart for the Lord. You will never regret that kind of life.

Questions to Ponder

  • Is it your heart’s desire to do God’s will above all else?
  • Do you daily engage in the temporary and eternally destructive ways of this world, lust, cravings, pride, love of self, without remorse?
  • Would people and your family describe you as Godly or worldly?
  • How can we do the will of the Lord more in our daily lives?

Need Some Help?


Psalm 121 (NLT)   “I look up to the mountains— does my help come from there?My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber.Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps.The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night.The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life.The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever.”

When life gets rough for a number of reasons, we often look for some help. A quick fix to ease our broken heart, upset emotions, or dilemma.  unfortunately we turn toward something that we know we like and may make us temporarily feel better.  Shopping, a Netflix binge, an addiction, or the such.

But true help, deep help comes from the Lord.  Through the tough times He is speaking, teaching, guiding.  We want relief, peace, and no suffering.  He wants us to listen, embrace the moment, and deepen our spirits.

Psalm 121 is on my mind this morning.  I read it over a few times. The words feed my soul.  As I read it slower, pray about it, reflect and listen to the Holy Spirit in silence and solitude, faintly, I begin to hear the voice of my Father as “deep calls to deep.”  I want to move on, get about the day, but I must, force myself to wait, to patient my spirit, and listen, for my help is coming. I can’t miss this.

Many times I have not benefited from hard times, because I can’t stop, listen, and patient my spirit to wait for the help that my Father’s voice brings me.

-Natefog

Real Repentance means Real Change


changeWe are in love with talking about change. But most do not change. The top three things Americans want to change in their life is their health, their finances, and family.  As a leader, who has spent my whole professional life working with people, may I tell you that I have observed little change happens,  if the changes are not deep in the heart and soul of a person.

To “Repent” means literally to have a change of mind that leads to a change in direction.  We know John the Baptist preached repentance, Jesus also did. The change being to turn away from sin and turn to the Lord, ultimately the Savior, Jesus Christ.

How many of us have committed to change, only to return to old patterns and behaviors in just a few days.  Change is hard.  So what has to change to bring deep change in our heart and mind that results in a directional change in life?  it is a change in our heart.

Christ came to bring change. He changed the religious landscape, changed deeply entrenched ideas about religion, but most importantly lives were changed, by the change only a Messiah could bring.  Matthew the tax collectors life was changed by Jesus, as was Zachaeus (remember the wee-little man?), Mary Magdalene, the guy by the pool if Siloam that could not walk, the lady caught in adultery, Peter, Paul, John, and the list goes on and on.  Jesus has brought deep change in the hearts and souls of millions of people, even after His death.

Jesus changed my life.  From a selfish, self-centered, 16-year-old that had little understanding about faith and the Bible, to who I am today.  It came through repentance (a change of mind and heart, that leads to a change in direction).  This change started as a teenager, but change and repentance has continued and will until I am with the Lord.  The Lord changed my heart, but forgiving me, giving me hope, and revealing Himself, and his unconditional life toward me.

What changes would you like in your life?  Real Repentance, brings real change, and the goodness of our God brings forgiveness, hope, love, and the power to change as only He can change a heart, and that is the source of change, and choices.

Choose Him today in all areas of life, and you will be choosing a life of wonderful change.

Romans 2:4 “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?”

Grace and Peace


As I began reading Ephesians again today these two words stand out.  It was a common greeting and the Apostle Paul says it to the church in Ephesus in the first part of his letter to them(we call Ephesians in the Bible).

We all love grace.  Grace is the gift from others.  A gift to forgive. A gift to overlook an offense, the gift to be tolerant of a short-coming. Without grace relationships are doomed.  Without grace to each other, we have the potential to become cynical, spiteful, aggressively-opinionated, and even hateful.

The idea of peace, is what is experienced as we become givers or recipients of grace.  Have you ever been forgiven?  Have you ever let go of anger toward someone?  I bet you experienced some peace.  The population is seeking grace and peace. When grace is not lived, received, or experienced we have a propensity to seek peace in behaviors that can hurt and destroy us, and heap the opposite of peace, on those closest to us.  Counselors call this “self-medicating.”  This brings short bits of shallow peace that is really an illusion.  We need real peace, and it only comes through real grace.

The grace of God, our Father is this:  He sent Jesus to pay for our offenses, only because of His great love for us.  Grace spiritually is like all grace.  It is a gift.  God’s love is a gift, as well as God’s life, his free salvation, and His presence.  To have this gift you just receive by faith, saying yes to Jesus and the love of the Father, and no to everything in this world that leads us from that.

When we experience Grace from Heaven, we can then experience peace with God.  It is then part of us to grant much grace to others, thus perpetuating peace on earth, and good will to men.  Only in Christ, is true grace and peace able to be experienced and attained.

Grace and Peace to you and to others this day.

Divergent Living is Missional Living


The Definition for Divergent.  Divergent means  “tending to be different or develop in different directions.”  I believe God’s people, the followers of Jesus are called to be divergent with this world’s culture in many ways.  I don’t mean just dress, hair style, jeans, or cars we drive. I don’t believe we are called to all look and dress the same or appear to be some sort of cult-like thing.  I am referring to being different in our lives and hearts.

2 Corinthians 6:17–18 (NASB95)  “Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord. “And do not touch what is unclean; And I will welcome you.   “And I will be a father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” Says the Lord Almighty.

Again, this does not mean the church becomes a commune, or we all move to a camp or compound to avoid being in this world. But we are taught here by the Apostle Paul to be seperate.  This means that we do not participate in evil or in things that are not pleasing to the Lord.  Obviously, as Jesus followers we do not want to participate in sin. There are many things in our culture that are perfectly acceptable and legal,  to this world, but it is not good for us, and does not reflect that we are followers of Christ.  He has called us and wants us to be different.  In what ways do we clash with this culture that we need to “separate ourselves?”. Let me give you some examples.

  • Greed and materialism -vs- giving, selflessness, and treasures in Heaven.
  • Selfishness and pursuit of pleasure  -vs- putting God and others first.
  • Sexual freedom and immoral sexual attitudes -vs- sexual purity, and a biblical understanding of marriage and sexuality.
  • Bitterness and unforgiveness  -vs- Loving, forgiveness, and grace.
  • Eternity mocked  -vs- Eternal world view

I think you understand what I am saying. As followers of Jesus, we must be different. Our lives, our world views, our values, our habits, our money, our relationships, and our destination.

Questions to ponder

  • are  you participating in compromising and siful things that culture has accepted?
  • Are you being everything Christ has called you to, forsaking the pleasures and pursuits of this world and “storing up for yourselves treasures in heaven (Matt. 6.20)?
  • Is your life a testimony of Jesus or is your life not distinguished from anyone else who has no knowledge of Christ?

Be Divergent. Go to the next level in living. Pure living has amazing benefits, and we do not reap the pain of sin, selfishness, and compromise.  Our kids will benefit from our commitment to Christ. Our marriage will be blessed, and we will reflect to all that we know God.

Divergent Living is Missional Living

Let’s Face it, We Have Limits


I have observed so many people living their lives and  how decisions are made based on their mind, will, desires, and understandings. I wrestle with this constantly also.  Making decisions based on our own knowledge and wisdom sounds noble, but can be catastrophic. Why?  We all have boundaries on our what we understand.  We only have learned so much.  We have only experienced so much. We have limits.  Our will can also manipulate our mind into making decisions we think we are good, but our desires, deceive our mind, and the decisions are really about us, and can impact others with pain, grief, and sorrow.

When we trust the Lord’s ways, we enter in to a life of faith and dependence on the One who has no boundaries.  God knows the past, present, and the future.  The Lord also loves us and has a will for our life, if we will but trust Him daily.  He knows what our heart and character need, to shore up our integrity, goodness, and holiness.  He isn’t tricked by our fancy prayers, deals, or justifications.

This verse in Proverbs 3 says it all:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.  Proverbs 3:5,6

We are encouraged to Trust in the Lord. His ways, his word, his will.  We are cautioned  about leaning on our own understanding.  Our intellect, our will, and our experiences, can threaten God ways in our lives we sweep Him aside, and trust in our own limited self.

Life is about so many decisions. Maybe today you have some heavy ones weighing on your mind and heart.  Can I encourage you to take the wisdom of Proverbs and apply them to your situation?  I mean, who wants a crooked life, and a rough path?  Surrender your will, and desires, and trust the one who know all, and loves you completely.

I have never heard anyone confess they regret trusting God.  I have heard regrets of the opposite countless times.  Live without regrets, and trust the Lord. He will direct your paths.