Devotions

  • Reaching Out

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    He comforts us in all our troubles, so that we may be able to comfort those in any trouble, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1:4

    Insight

    I don’t know about you, but the act of bringing others to Christ seems so daunting to me. I build it up in my head, am worried that I will come across as a fraud. I think about inviting a friend or coworker to church, get up the courage to do it and then change my mind the minute I open my mouth. I’m scared they will think I am pushing my faith onto them. What I don’t realize, is that my actions and my story introduce those around me to Christ every day.

    On Sunday, Stuart Hall said, “Your relationship with Jesus is personal, but it is not private.” Building a relationship with Christ changed my life and continues to change my life every day as I walk with Him, learn from Him, and reach for His Truth in the Bible for hope, guidance, and wisdom.

    How grateful I am to have met and been saved by Jesus. And to be able to share my story and tell others about that relationship—to pass on His gift of comfort to someone else is the most important and meaningful work on this earth.

    2 Corinthians 1:4 makes it incredibly clear, that we are able to use our story, our struggles, and the comfort we have found in God to help comfort someone else and show them the true source of that comfort.

    Sharing God with others is like reaching out with one hand to help a friend while grasping on tightly with the other hand to Jesus—who has helped you and continues to support and comfort you every day.

    Reflection

    • Who do you know that could use a helping hand or some genuine comfort?
    • What would it look like to take some time and share your story with a friend who may not know Jesus like you know Jesus?

    Prayer

    Dear God, Thank you for my story and Your work in my life. Give me the strength to share my story and the story of Your grace, support, and comfort. I have friends, family, and coworkers who need Your comfort and I know I can share that with them. Help me to share Your love today and every day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

    PC3 writer Meghan Larson wrote today’s devotional.

  • A Responsibility To Encourage

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    For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

    Insight

    As you consider the people you are in a relationship with, remember God made them for a purpose.

    Today’s passage reminds us that we are God’s workmanship and have been created to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. It is important to keep in consideration that some individuals may not be aware that God has a purpose for them. By being in relationships with others, we have the opportunity to grow together.

    1 Corinthians 12:12-27 speaks to the “in it together” mentality of a community. Each person plays an important role in the body of Christ. Yet, this Scripture goes a step further in our goal to remain united. In verse 26, we learn that “if one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” How do you typically respond when someone you know makes a wrong decision or is going through a hard time? Do you suffer with them? Do you desire to carry that burden? Are you there to pick up the part of the body that has fallen?

    Verse 26 also speaks about rejoicing. Do you rejoice when a part is honored? When others receive something, are you happy for them? Or do you feel as if you deserve something as well? All too often, we tend to envy the accomplishments of others or wish we could get some sort of recognition, but if we see ourselves as a part of the same body then when one part receives honor we all do.

    We must compassionately pursue relationships that were made for God. Relationships provide us the opportunity to not only reveal God’s character but to experience something bigger than us. A God-centered community is intentional about each individual within it.

    The individuals have a responsibility to encourage each other in their walks with God: to love one another by making these relationships a priority, to be authentic and to experience accountability.  The hope is by understanding the point of a redemptive community you will be further strengthened in your walk with God and see how important each individual is to our overall impact as believers.

    Community is a group of people that are radically devoted to God, to one another and to the world we are called to serve. Community is where God penetrates our world. Our challenge is to reveal Him to others.

    Reflection

    • Who do you know that needs to be encouraged? How are you reflecting Christ’s heart in your relationships?

    Prayer

    God, may I look for ways to encourage others today. Give me the eyes to see where You are moving in their life. May I point out the good so they can be spurred on to pursue Your heart. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

  • Guest Of Honor

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    For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21

    But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean.Acts 10:28

    Insight

    If life were like a party, many of us would be guilty of orchestrating an elaborate shindig where we are the guest of honor and all the festivities are about us. Our parties (and lives) tend to celebrate our achievements and accomplishments where we make much about ourselves. Very few people tend to come to these type of parties because frankly, they aren’t much fun. If we don’t find ourselves alone on the dance floor, the only other people who are joining us are individuals who look, act, think and behave just like us. Every photo of our “me first” party would show a crowd of people who all appear to be carbon copies of each other.

    Living in our own little bubble limits our view of God and causes us to label others without being curious about their hearts, their stories, and their lives. Being a true party starter requires one to be honest about who surrounds them at their table and who needs an invite, but isn’t getting one.  As believers, we are called to reflect Christ’s heart. People who weren’t like Jesus liked Jesus. Our lives should serve as an extension of Jesus’ life. And, since this is the case, it begins by welcoming all people and giving ourselves away. The more fascinated we become with the differences in people in this world, the more fascinated we become with God. Our idea of our creator expands with every moment we spend with people not like us.

    Our heart shrinks and expands to the size of its greatest concern. A party starter needs a constantly growing heart. We are never more like Jesus than when we are willing to sacrifice for the sake of another person’s future. How we walk with the broken is more important than how we sit with the great. People aren’t projects. They are individuals who have souls and hearts and many of them are broken and looking for healing.

    When we invest in someone, our heart follows. We can’t confuse the order. Everything we dream, hope for and pray is linked to how we love and serve others. If we want to thrive, we have to learn how to live for someone other than ourselves. Creating beautiful spaces always considers the guest first. It looks for ways to communicate hope and assures others that they are welcome here.

    Hope isn’t a strategy, hope is what we have in Jesus. And it is this hope that we are told to give away. We do this by being party starters. God made us to party and to impact the people we touch. We speak up for those without a voice. We leverage our voice in the right way, for the right reasons. We go the extra mile even though we don’t have to. We put our agenda, wants and desires on the back burner so we can fast forward someone else’s dream. The healing the world and our communities need is found in the parties we throw.

    Reflection

    • Consider the people that you invite to your parties, join you at the table or appear in the photos stored on your phone. What level of diversity is present in this group? What occurs when we only surround ourselves with people just like us?

    Prayer

    God, may I expand my table and open up a seat to all. Rather than living my life in my own little world, open my eyes to the needs all around me. I desire for my life to serve as a party where everyone gets an invitation and is welcome. May I make much of You by the way I extend grace, love, and hope to others. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

    This devotional was inspired by Stuart Hall’s message from Part 2 of Sometimes It Takes A Party.

  • House of Mirrors

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    But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God. 2 Corinthians 2:14-17

    Insight

    When the temperature begins to rise and the kids get out of school, summer festivals start taking place in cities and towns all across America.It’s a special time of year when everyone in town comes together to celebrate their community over amusement rides, chili cook-offs, and funnel cake. There is so much to see and do at the fair you don’t know where to begin. A community party is taking place.

    For a second let’s pretend you and a few of your friends enter one of the fair’s favorite attractions in the House of Mirrors. As everyone goes their separate ways, you get misplaced from your group and lost amongst the hundreds of mirrors. Out of the corner of your eye, you see reflections of your friends in a few of the mirrors. Numerous reflections, but only one is where you friends will be found. You try to pursue them and head towards a reflection. WHAM! Your head smacks up against a mirror. Wrong reflection.

    Your second and third attempt produce similar results. Just when you think you are on the right track there comes another dead end. Frustrated and sore you give up your pursuit and head towards the exit. From the way the walls are constructed to the angles of the mirrors, the purpose is to mess with someone’s spatial and visual senses. The shapes in the House of Mirrors give the participants unusual and confusing reflections of themselves and those around them.

    Whether we realize it or not, we tend to live our lives like we are in that House of Mirrors by engaging in the game of self-preservation. This game prevents those much needed crucial conversations from taking place. Even though we crave to be in relationships with others where we are known, community is something we fear at the same time.

    There are numerous lengths people go to maintain this false image of themselves. Keeping conversations strictly at a surface level is how it usually appears. It is similar to those slight of hand card tricks you find at the carnival. The person might share a struggle (show a card) knowing full well they have an ace up their sleeve that allows them not to share what is really going on. Remember, the issue isn’t always the “issue.” This action is meant to distract people from going deeper and asking the hard questions because there is this perceived level of depth. Another way self-preservation is seen is when people talk about other’s struggles freely, but never acknowledge their own. Others simply stay unengaged and don’t speak up much.

    At the foundation of each approach is the struggle we have with belonging or feeling like we are accepted. We are afraid that if we take off our masks or expose our problems, we will be rejected. At the carnival, we shun the rejected like the Bearded Woman, Two Headed Boy and Midget Lady in the House of Freaks. We pay money and snap our pictures as we gaze at people who don’t fit into normal society.

    We struggle with whether others will perceive us as normal or not. The good news is no one is normal or has it all together. One of the foundations of PC3 is the belief that everyone is crazy. Unfortunately, if things remain the same and we allow self-preservation to exist, we hinder the formation and growth of our relationships. Parties never take place because no one gets invited.

    We all try to hide our “weirdness” from everyone. However, it isn’t until we let our guard down and become transparent that we will ever feel fully loved. This can only happen in the midst of others. If we are to survive and continue to grow out of our struggles we need people around us to encourage us as well as speak up during those times when we’ve gone off course.

    Reflection

    • Why do you believe people engage in the act of self-preservation?
    • What barriers are you constructing that are preventing others from seeing the real you and having those crucial conversations?

    Prayer

    God, may I not live my life in a house of mirrors. Instead, let me transparent about my struggles and shortcomings. Give me the courage to invite others into my world as well as the willingness to spur others on to good deeds. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

  • Party On

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    So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.”

    But his father said to the servants, “Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.” So the party began. LUKE 15:20-24

    Insight

    I remember the first party I ever missed. I was 6 or 7 years old. A neighbor of my grandmother was throwing a summer pool party. I was giddy with excitement. But on the day of the big event, I came down with the flu and missed it. To this day I remember my disappointment in being left out of the fun.

    Nobody wants to be left out of the fun.

    Last Sunday, Stuart Hall told us that parties ought to be a priority in our lives because Jesus loved parties and He loved people. Christ left nobody off the guest list.

    For example:

    • In the prodigal son story, Jesus tells us how the father’s banquet for his lost son confirms we can all be forgiven. (Luke 15:11-32)
    • When Jesus invites Himself over to dine with Zacchaeus, a hated tax collector who had become rich off the Jewish people, Jesus shows us that people matter more than our opinions. (Luke 19:1-10)
    • In His first recorded miracle, Christ turns water into wine at a wedding, revealing that God cares about people who, well, party. (John 2:1-12)

    In fact, if it weren’t for a Christmas party on a Saturday night in 2005, I might not have become a Christian. It was at that neighborhood bash that we met a couple who told us about PC3. We went the very next day, and nine months later I asked Christ into my heart.

    Still, we don’t have to wait for a special occasion or date on the calendar. Stuart defines a party as “any effort to celebrate or serve each other in order to enjoy each other.” In other words, we can bring the party with us wherever we go. At the gym, we can chat with someone we see all the time but have never spoken to before. When our neighbor is working in the yard, we can pop over with a glass of lemonade. On an uneventful Tuesday evening, we can grab some friends for a spontaneous picnic dinner on the beach.

    Remember the movie “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure”? Right before Ted utters his classic line, “Party on, dudes,” Bill says something equally cool: “Be excellent to each other.”

    Let’s do both.

    Reflection

    • What is your favorite type of party and why?
    • In what ways do you celebrate and serve your family? Your friends? People you don’t even know?
    • It’s summertime. Why not have a get together and invite at least one person that’s never been on your guest list before?

    Prayer

    Dear Father in Heaven, thank you for Your Word, which demonstrates to us how You feel about parties. You love when we let our guards down and just enjoy one another. Help us to look at every person we meet as a guest who is invited to Your ultimate party in Heaven one day. Give us opportunities to throw out the welcome mat, turn up the music and show Your great love. Amen.

    PC3 writer Katy Davis wrote today’s devotional.

  • The Good Dinosaur

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    Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. Ephesians 4:15-16

    Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:5-6

    But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. James 3:17

    Insight

    The Good Dinosaur is one of my all-time favorite movies.  Arlo, a child dinosaur, is enemies with a savage cave boy who keeps breaking into his family’s silo to steal their winter food supply.  After a series of disastrous events, he ends up blaming the cave boy for the death of his father.  Following a fierce storm, Arlo finds himself far away from home and separated from the rest of his family.  He runs into Spot, the savage cave boy, who helps him survive in the wilderness.  As Arlo learns more about Spot and shares his life with him, he realizes that Spot is simply an orphan trying to survive.  This new perspective changes everything about their relationship.

    When we take the time to get to know people, it will transform the way we communicate with them.  If we choose to spend time learning about someone and their needs, we will relate to them differently.  The best and most effective conversations happen in the contexts of authentic relationships.

    That last sentence may seem obvious.  But I am saddened at how often Christians claim to be “speaking truth in love” while using this phrase as a weapon to ambush someone they have little to no relationship with.  I also find it ironic that this phrase, “speaking the truth in love”, originally intended for believers in Ephesus in regards to how they relate to one another (believer to believer), has become one that shapes how we relate to the world (believer to unbeliever).

    We are called to be wise in the way we act toward those outside the faith (Colossians 4:5-6).  This doesn’t mean showing how much truth we know.  It means relating to and communicating with others considerately, sincerely, and mercifully while loving peace (James 3:17).  These are extremely valuable Biblical principles given to help us relate to one another.

    We do not have to shy away from the truth but we are called to be sensitive to the ones to whom we are communicating.  I believe we often feel pressure to share truth because we are passionate about our convictions and the freedoms we find in Christ.  This is a beautiful thing!  However, we are instructed to be submissive, prayerful and wise in how we share.  Valuable and eternal communication happens over coffee, shared meals and most often face to face.  Trouble and relational strain most often come when we are not willing to share our lives but we jump into sharing our truth.

    Certainly, truth is not relative and we are asked to be brave in sharing the truth of Christ. Yet, I do not believe that it is necessary for everyone to know my opinion about every hot button issue in our culture.  When I have felt what I know to be actual nudging of the Holy Spirit to speak truth, it has mostly been in the context of relationships – ones in which I have been willing to share my time, my self and my life.  If we are not willing to share these things, then we must ask ourselves if speaking the truth is the wise thing to do.

    Reflection

    • The Bible tells us that truth is best seen through the frame of a relationship and its goal is maturity, unity and love.  “Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances” (Proverbs 25:11).  If we care about someone and our true desire is to share the truth of Christ with them, He will provide the right time and circumstance.  Ask God to show you when the time is right.

    Prayer

    Lord, I have messed this up more times than I like to think about.  I’m sorry for that.  Help me to be more dependent on You, especially when I attempt to speak truth to others. Help me to be wise and considerate and most of all loving.  Thank you that Your law is simply summed up by loving You and loving others.  Help me to communicate better so that I may better love others.  In Your name.  Amen.      

    PC3 writer Gina Fimbel wrote today’s devotional.

  • Powerful Currency

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    We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the sphere of service God himself has assigned to us, a sphere that also includes you. We are not going too far in our boasting, as would be the case if we had not come to you, for we did get as far as you with the gospel of Christ. Neither do we go beyond our limits by boasting of work done by others. Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our sphere of activity among you will greatly expand, so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you. For we do not want to boast about work already done in someone else’s territory. But, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.  2 CORINTHIANS 10:13-18 

    Insight

    Our character is the most powerful currency we have to influence others. The fuel to love the difficult people in our lives comes from knowing we have been trusted with the integrity of His image and influence of His love. Having felt the amazing love of Christ firsthand, we desire for others to experience the one thing that has transformed our lives. Forgiven people are to be forgiving people.

    Our relationships must be expressive. The Apostle Paul explains it this way in 2 Corinthians 5:14: “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all and therefore all have died.” In other parts of Scripture, Paul’s prayer for people within his care is that they would know how “wide, long, high and deep is the love of Christ” (Ephesians 3:17-19).

    He takes this personal investment a step further in Galatians 4:19 using the imagery of childbirth to describe the anguish he feels when others are hurting and do not know the love of Christ. Paul understood the only true source of hope for this lost world. Instead of pointing people to himself, he always directed others to the life of Christ.

    Without Christ’s love serving as the fuel that drives us to respond, we find ourselves resorting to manipulation in our interactions with others. This leads us to attempt to be the conduit for change. The wrong source produces the wrong image. The difference between manipulation and influence is the motive.

    We must learn to love in such a way that people respond to Him and not us. Jesus’ commission to make disciples was to proclaim a message of redemption and hope. This hope for lasting change rests solely in the hands of the Great Redeemer. Humans were never wired to walk through this world in search of hope, rescue, and forgiveness alone.

    God has placed the responsibility of being His hands and heart to this world solely on the Body of Christ. This mission to reach people and help them walk with God is a personal call He has made to each one of us.

    Reflection

    • How is Christ’s love compelling you to love others?
    • How are your relationships expressing Christ’s love?

    Prayer

    Lord, help me to test my motives on a continual basis. May I be filled with Your love so I don’t resort to manipulating others to fill that need to be loved.  Allow me to care with integrity. I want the care I provide others to be pure and centered on the hope You provide. In your name, Jesus. Amen.

  • Party Starters

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     We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. 1 John 4:19-21

    So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. Matthew 22:10

    Insight

    As believers, the way we live our lives should be contagious to others. Culture should take notice of how we live free and be curious as to what drives this freedom. Unfortunately, many of us live as if following Jesus excludes us from having any fun. Rather than inviting everyone to the party, we act like bouncers, checking the credentials of anyone who dares to enter our space. We live as if there is some exclusive VIP section where only special individuals are allowed behind the velvet rope.

    If we’re honest with ourselves, Christians are more often known for being party poppers rather than party starters. The closer we get to walking with Jesus, the easier it is to have smaller tables and bigger walls. If we’re not careful, our tables can shrink all in the name of godliness and holiness. When we respond this way, we break God’s heart and show a lack of understanding in the power the Gospel message holds.

    We act like everyone is not invited to the party, but they are. Everyone has received an invitation. Jesus doesn’t segregate. He integrates. Instead of building a wall, Jesus is calling us to build a bigger table. Loving God affects how we love others. Loving others affects how we love God. Being a party starter is part of our DNA as Christ followers. Having experienced the love of Christ firsthand, we have been set free and that is reason to celebrate.

    Jesus went to parties. Jesus told stories about parties. Jesus compared God’s Kingdom to a party. Jesus loved parties because he loved people. He understood that there is something that happens at a party that can’t happen anywhere else. It’s as if Jesus is saying, “Sometimes it takes a party.”

    Sometimes it takes a party to change how we see each other. Sometimes it takes a party to demonstrate that God cares about people who party. Sometimes it takes a party to confirm we can always be forgiven. Sometimes it takes a party to prove that people matter more than opinions. Sometimes it takes a party to remind us that everyone is invited to the party.

    Parties should be our priority. A party is any effort to celebrate, serve, or enjoy each other in a way that adds value to life. Our interactions with others should leave a positive impact. Our faith is meant to be lived. Every single time we gather people together is an act of worship because we are demonstrate how God cares and loves. Every table is an altar. There has never been a more important time in history than right now to start acting like we believe everyone is invited to the party. If we don’t learn to love and serve, the power of the church diminishes. But, what if we started acting like everyone is invited to the party?

    Reflection

    • A party is any effort to celebrate, serve, or enjoy each other in a way that adds value. How can you be a party starter today?

    Prayer

    God, let me celebrate I’ve been set free. But, in the midst of this celebration, may I remember You are asking me to share and express to others the same hope I’ve given. Let me invite everyone to the table so I can pursue understanding, hear their story and share the love of Christ with them. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

    This devotional was inspired by Stuart Hall’s talk from Part 1 of “Sometimes It Takes A Party.”

  • Shake It Off

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    Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:17-18

    For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6

    Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 1 John 3:2

    Insight

    In my household, I’m surrounded by two “Swifties.” For those not up-to-speed on their pop culture references, Swifties are devoted fans of the singer Taylor Swift (or affectionately known as Taytay). My girls adore everything about Taylor – her music, her style, and her personality. Within mere days of receiving her latest album as a present, they had every song memorized.

    If I’m being honest, I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve listened to Shake It Off, Bad Blood or Out of the Woods. A few months ago one of my girls was doing her math homework at the dining room table. Without even thinking, she began to hum the lyrics to Shake It Off. Pretty soon, she started tapping her pencil to the beat in her head. Eventually her body began to wiggle as she started to dance in her seat.

    Then something weird happened. As embarrassed as I am to admit this, I began to sing along while making dinner and using my cooking utensils as drumsticks. But, that’s not where it stopped. My other daughter, along with my wife, came in and then it happened…. a spontaneous dance party broke out in the middle of our house. Joy erupted from the mundane. Each one of us was singing at the top of our lungs and dancing like crazy as our puzzled labradoodle looked on.

    Now before you bash Taylor’s music or question my parenting (after all, the haters gonna hate, hate, hate), this story has a point. A few years back my girls had an encounter with You Belong to Me and their lives (and ours) have never been the same. From that moment, they engrossed themselves in her music, moves, style, and interests. They can dance and sing to Taylor’s music almost effortlessly. They, at times, can’t help but break out in song and express what has been formed on the inside.

    When it comes to our walk with God, everything starts with an encounter. These collisions happen when our reality gets challenged. An encounter with Taylor Swift’s music might result in getting a tune stuck in our head, but a collision with Jesus changes everything about us. When we collide with the Truth, it changes us: how we see things, how we respond and how we live and love. We allow these experiences to sink deeper by positioning ourselves to focus and depend on God’s work in our hearts and lives. If we do so, God begins to shape and form us into an expression of His love.

    What is formed on the inside gets expressed on the outside. When we genuinely align with God’s truth, believing it with our heart, soul, mind and strength, it becomes natural to display His character in our thoughts, attitudes and behaviors. When God’s Truth is governing and influencing our lives, every facet of who we are becomes an expression.

    To bring it back to the story, if we engage in the formation process, we can’t help but express ourselves by busting out a little karaoke. But, our lives serving as an expression of God’s love, has a greater purpose than just ourselves. We weren’t meant to listen to our song with headphones in insolation, lost in our own little world. Instead, we share our song with others and before we know it that catchy tune is stuck in someone else’s head. The song instantly becomes viral. All of a sudden, the dance floor is crowded with people losing themselves in the music.

    God uses not only our words, but also the way we live our lives to speak His truth to others. The active sharing of our life, our faith and our mission is precisely how we gain a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.

    Reflection

    • How can the expression of your life serve as someone else’s encounter?

    Prayer

    God, I desire for my life to serve as a reflection of Your love. May everything I say and do glorify You. Allow the work You are doing behind the scenes, on the inside, to bubble up and be seen on the outside. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

  • Neither Are We

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    Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23-24

    If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. 1 John 1:8-10

    Insight

    Sometimes we are the offended and other times we are the offender. This comes with the messiness of humanity. At times, we all fail to reflect Christ’s heart in our relationships, especially with our children. And our unwillingness to ask for forgiveness can create a wedge in this important relationship.

    While extending forgiveness to someone who wronged us is extremely challenging, being in the position to have to ask your own children for forgiveness can be just as humbling. Trust me I know.

    A costly decision waits with our pride hanging in the balance. Pride is what stops us from admitting we were wrong and tempts us to justify our actions.  Pride forces us to stand tall, while asking for forgiveness brings us to our knees in humility.

    Maybe it’s just me, but I’m an expert at rationalizing my behavior. I can justify my actions with the best of them. Can anyone blame me for losing my temper with my kids? After all, they disrespected me, spoke back, weren’t paying attention, failed to listen or any of the other thousand excuses I can rattle off if you have the time to listen.

    Due to the difficulty of being a parent, it’s very easy to pinpoint all the ways we think our children have wronged us. They didn’t put their shoes away, they left marker stains on the furniture, they broke curfew or they disregarded our advice on tough choices they needed to make.

    On a daily basis, we are reminded that our children aren’t perfect. But, here’s the thing, neither are we as parents. No one is spotless.

    So, why is our willingness to ask for forgiveness such a necessary tool for us as parents? By owning up to our own sin, mistakes and failures, we are modeling forgiveness to our children. And because we model it, our children will be more likely to exhibit these qualities when they get older.

    The next generation needs to know that forgiveness is the only thing strong enough to restore a relationship. The act of forgiveness has the power to heal any wound.

    Teaching about forgiveness is one thing. Being able to serve as a living example of it is quite another. Our children learn about forgiveness first from us.

    Reflection

    • How are you modeling forgiveness in your relationships?
    • In what relationships do you need to seek forgiveness?

    Prayer

    God, open my eyes to the places where I’ve caused others pain. Help me to see those moments when I didn’t reflect Your heart in my relationships. But, don’t allow me to stay there. Give me the courage to lay my pride down and ask forgiveness to those I’ve offended and hurt. May Your grace help restore these relationships. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.