Posts tagged with ‘Encounter’

  • The Love Of A Leader

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    Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Hebrews 13:7

    Insight

    In case you missed it, adult leaders from all over our church hopped on buses last week for a 12-hour ride with about 500 middle and high school students. Unpaid, voluntarily, these super humans (if we’re being totally honest) chose to spend their week with a bunch of kids with one purpose; to help them connect. To connect with God, with each other, and with their leaders.

    I wasn’t raised in church; in fact, I’d go as far as to say that I was intentionally raised out of the church. In the 5th grade, I managed to make a few friends at school who attended a youth group, and for whatever reason, I was allowed to go. Sometimes I’d catch a ride with my friends, or sometimes the youth group leaders would come pick me up. Either way, each week I was there. For a few years I’d have told you that I went there to hang out, or because it was fun. Whether I was learning how to skateboard or talking to a leader about something tough going on at school, I was always made to feel part of the group, and I was always made to feel welcome. As I got older I started to piece together that in the big ways, and in the little ways, they were always loving me the way God does.

    In high school, I had my first opportunity to go to camp. Much like many of the kids at PC3, I relied on scholarships to be able to go. It was through the generosity of families at the church, that I had the opportunity to connect further, and to build stronger relationships. It was the first time that I was able to remove myself from my routine, and experience God in a whole new way. It was the first time that I realized my relationship with God didn’t depend on my parents or my success at school or work. I figured out that my relationship with God was just me and Him, and that no environment, no event, no other person could interfere with His love for me, and my ability to be loved.

    It was also the first time that I had spent more than an hour with my youth leaders. Youth group each week was a great time to have fun and study a few verses. But an entire week away with friends and leaders offers connection in a way you can’t get at home. To participate in activities where you rely on each other, to break bread together, to pray and cry and hope and sing together for an entire week – this is when you get the biggest opportunity to share your faith together. And for some kids, it’s when they find their faith in God.

    Our faith isn’t meant to be hidden, but shared. We grow in our faith more when we do it together. Hebrews 13:7 shares what most youth group kids already know; to remember our leaders and the faith that they had. These adults, these leaders, these super humans, gave students an opportunity to meet God in a whole new way. Masked in meals and obstacle courses and games and late-night cabin chats, was relationship building and faith seeking on a whole new level. When kids go to camp, they come back changed. It’s pretty tough to find a better example of God’s love, than the love of a youth leader.

    Reflection

    • What opportunities do you have to make an impact on someone else and their faith? Where can you get deeper than sharing a few Bible verses, and forge stronger connections with God and each other?

    Prayer

    God, thank you for the hearts of the leaders in our lives! Thank you for the effort that they put into shaping our hearts and our minds and our faith. Help us to see where we might be able to impact others to help them grow in their faith, and to see Your love! In Your name, Amen.

    PC3 writer Annalee Thomasson wrote today’s devotional.

  • Mariana’s Trench

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    And compassion is on its way to us. You’ll stamp out our wrongdoing. You’ll sink our sins to the bottom of the ocean. Micah 7:19 (The Message)

    Insight

    I used to spend every single morning watching the sunrise at the edge of the earth. Rain or shine, low tides or high waters, I would take everything in my heart and on my mind and I would meet God where I felt Him the most. I’d run my fingers through thousands of grains of sand, and listen as the tide rolled in. God and I would talk. Sometimes about heavy stresses. Sometimes about the silly things. Some days I’d just listen.

    No matter how long I spend by the sea, it’s still absolutely unimaginable to me; the life that it holds. We’ll never know what it’s like to swim Mariana’s Trench (deepest part of the ocean), but Micah 7:19 says that this is in fact where our sins are kept. Well, maybe not Mariana’s Trench in particular. But the Bible says that our sins have been cast that deep.

    Can you imagine the thing you feel the most guilt over; the thing you are most afraid of; the thing you can’t speak of. Can you imagine it, at the bottom of the sea? So deep that it could never get to you? So deep that it could never come back to the surface? But instead, on the surface, is the compassion of God. On the surface, you are swimming in the love of the Father, and your sins are 36,000 feet below, and never coming back up.

    Our sins often act as the lens through which we see ourselves and our surroundings. When a student fails an exam, they don’t see how hard they studied – they just see that they failed. When you don’t get that promotion at work, you don’t see all the ways you are good at your job; you just see that you weren’t good enough. When you cause an accident in rush hour, you don’t see the years you’ve driven without a glitch – you just see a totaled car. When you fight with your spouse, you won’t see all the things you do agree on; you’ll just see how you disagree. But what if the failures and the let downs and the lies and the fears were all cast so deep into the sea that all that was left was compassion?

    When was the last time you talked to God? When all you can hear is a list of your shortcomings and wrongdoings, imagine that list just sinking to the bottom of the sea. Then, think about where you need His compassion, and remember that you’re already swimming in it. It’s surrounding you like the water of the ocean, and it’s coming at you as sure as the tide.

    Reflection

    • Where do you fall short of God’s glory? What are the fears that you want to give to Him? In what areas do you need to receive His compassion?

    Prayer

    God, thank you for casting my sins as deep as the sea. Help me to give up my guilt and fear and allow Your love to surround me. I know that where I fail, You have compassion for me. I know that I can rely on You in my shortcomings. In Your name, Amen.

    PC3 writer Annalee Thomasson wrote today’s devotional.

  • Spotlight

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    Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, 
but happy is he who keeps the law. PROVERBS 29:18 

    Your word is a lamp to my feet
 and a light to my path. PSALM 119:105 

    Insight

    You’ll never make a sacrifice for the Kingdom of God when your greatest concern is your own needs and well-being. We often speak about faith, but deep down inside we crave certainty.

    Rather than yearning for certainty, we must pursue clarity. Clarity is knowing what you should do.

    God’s desire for us is to build bigger faith. Sadly, what we often want is less risk. When God gives us the ‘WHAT’ and ‘WHY,’ we find ourselves continually asking ‘HOW?’ Our mind begins to race over what the future holds and the thousand decisions and outcomes that might follow down the line.

    It takes us down a path where we second-guess everything and live our lives based off of our circumstances and feelings.

    This must change and it begins by crafting a vision for your future. In order to decide, you must know who you want to become. Your decisions move you either towards or away from that picture. Fear and insecurity often threaten our willingness to trust that we can become that person. We drift towards settling for immediate gratification simply because we can’t see any farther down the road. This is a vision problem.

    The opposite of vision is not being blind, but rather being scattered. In other words, if you don’t have a vision for the person you want to become, you’ll be all over the map when it comes to your decision-making ability. Vision frees us from regret. Psalm 119:105 says God’s word is a lamp to your feet and a light to your path.

    Even though we desire a gigantic spotlight that illuminates the entire way, God only gives us a flashlight to enable us to see a few feet ahead. We desperately want the end of the path to be clear and in a direction we desire before we even consider moving. What we fail to realize is the purpose of the path is our formation.

    Your job is just to take that next right step. The proceeding steps along the path are in the future. But, you can never get there if you don’t take that next right step which is presented to you today. As we seek His face and meditate on His word, we become more confident in taking each step regardless of the uncertainty we might face. All God is asking is for you to be concerned about the here and now and respond to each moment according to the purpose you were designed for: to display God by having his life and heart fully formed in you.

    This requires motion and movement. It begins by stewarding each moment and viewing it as an opportunity to work towards expressing God’s love to those around you.

    Reflection

    • How does one develop a vision for the person they want to become?

    Prayer

    God, help me craft a vision for the person I want to become. I desire that both my words and my actions would bring You glory. May I see every decision I face in light of that vision. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

  • Play It Safe

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    My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. James 1:19-20

    The hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent, and their lips promote instruction. Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:23-24

    Insight

    I better enjoy my freedom now because I won’t be seeing the light of day for a very long time. They are going to flip their lid. I mean absolutely lose it. I can just picture it now: steam is going to come out of their ears like one of those cartoon characters. I’m in for the lecture of the century. They are going to kill me and I mean literally. Let’s face it: I’m a goner.

    These are just a few of the thoughts that raced through my head as I stared at my less than stellar report card during the winter semester of my junior year of high school. Knowing the outcome of the impending apocalypse, I considered forging my parent’s signature, lying and saying my dog ate it or putting myself in the witness protection program. While weighing my options, a stroke of brilliance hit me.

    My parents were volunteering at the mall wrapping presents for shoppers as a Christmas fundraiser for our church. I’d drive out to the mall with my younger brother in tow and hand them my grades there. I figured being in a public place surrounded by the joy of the holidays drastically decreased the chances they would freak out and yell at me. After all, who wants an adult livid with anger wrapping their toaster or sweater?

    Just in case you were wondering, my plan worked to perfection. They remained calm at the shopping center and the drive home gave them time to develop a game plan as to how they were going to handle the situation. Yes, I was still grounded (for a VERY long time) and they did express their disappointment, but we were able to have a conversation about what was causing my bad grades and as a result they improved over time. In a weird way, my parents not flipping out about my report card brought us closer.

    This story is similar to what hangs in the balance in a lot of our relationships. Others are constantly testing you to see how you will respond and what remains off-limits. If they bring a sensitive subject up, you can guarantee the other person has been mulling it over for a while now. They’ve estimated and forecasted how the conversation is going to play out. Depending on your perceived response, these thoughts will either remain under the surface or actually be shared with you.

    You are setting a culture of communication for your relationships. This culture can foster conversations or squash dialogue. It can make those around you feel like a priority or a nuisance and inconvenience. This system can establish points of trust or just as easily sow seeds of cynicism. It has the ability to provide love and security for growth to occur or leave others feeling judged, condemned, ashamed or misunderstood.

    One system takes a great deal of work and understanding while the other takes very little to no effort.  One system focuses on the lasting foundation of the relationships while the other frantically responds to the most pressing need at the time. One system breaks through the awkwardness that comes with building a relationship while the other sits back and allows insecurities and hesitation to prevail. The choice is yours as to what system you want to define and shape your relationships.

    The point of communication is to be understood. When others are vulnerable enough to open up to you, it is critical that you react in a way that makes them feel valued. Rather than lecture or try to prove a point, listen. Instead of passing judgment, seek to understand. Even if you want to fly off the handle and freak out, stay calm and get to the heart of the issue. Remember to listen first, validate their words next and then finally respond.

    Because you’ve taken the time to foster a system of openness, you will have influence to speak into the lives of others in a more profound way than you thought was possible. And here’s the beautiful thing. When you speak, others will listen. Why? Because they can trust you care and value their heart.

    Reflection

    • How would you describe your communication style? How would others describe your communication style?

    Prayer

    May I use my words wisely. Allow what I say to build people up and encourage them. But, before I speak, give me ears that seek understanding. In Your name, Jesus. Amen. 

  • Comfort Zone

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    In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’  Luke 10:30-35 

    Insight

    Every day we live amongst a tension. We struggle after one goal. It’s the desire you and I have for comfort. We all pursue being comfortable to some degree. Whether we realize it or not, this desire for comfort can very easily creep into our relationships and the way we engage with others.

    We’ve become so wrapped up in our own world that we do not see the people around us. But there is an inescapable truth found in Scripture. Jesus lays the gauntlet down in passages like Luke 10:30-35, better known as The Parable of the Good Samaritan.

    In this passage, Jesus challenges us and defines a purpose for us. We must step out of our comfort zones and engage a broken world. We cannot be bystanders or spectators. We cannot step back and hope someone else will step in. We cannot turn the other direction when we see people in need.

    In order to bring hope, we must be willing to cross the street like the Good Samaritan.

    Instead of seeing relationships with others as an inconvenience, we must see each one as an opportunity to make Christ’s love known through our action and words. Our hearts must break for this lost and hurting world. Our comfortable walk won’t produce this type of burden. Neither will a self-centered life focused solely on our needs.

    We have a responsibility to impact those around us.

    This requires action on our part and with this movement we will undoubtedly be stretched. We have to cross the street and redefine close proximity.  If not me, and not you, then who will cross the road to bring the only message of hope to those who are hurting?

    Reflection

    • Where do you need to “cross the street”?

    Prayer

    God, I confess that for far too long I’ve been on a quest to protect my comfort zone. I’ve been so wrapped up in thoughts of my own tiny world that I’ve missed out on the brokenness taking place all around me. May I be willing to cross the street. Burst the bubble I’ve been living in. Stretch me for Your kingdom. In Your name, Jesus. Amen. 

  • Four Corners

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    Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Ephesians 4:25-27

    Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:29-32

    Insight

    We all are master storytellers. Without even realizing it, we craft tales about the world around us and the part we play in it. We weave together narratives about the other person and their intentions. Whenever someone brings up a difficult subject, we go into storytelling mode to protect ourselves or to justify the reasons why we can disregard what they are saying. These stories influence our relationships in ways we can hardly imagine. Many of us define ourselves by our stories. They allow us to remain the victim, the hero or the casual bystander.

    Very rarely, if ever, do we take the time and possess the courage to look at our story. We don’t want to consider for a moment that our stories might be elaborate tales with very little truth found within. Our stories keep us from connection. Our stories prohibit trust. Often, our stories fail to show compassion. Our tendency, when it comes to conflict, is often to avoid. We attempt to keep the peace by covering up or over compensating. Living in our own stories allows us to do just that. Sometimes the pool we are swimming in is the pool of our own story and we are drowning.

    We are not alone in our attempts to tread water. Those around us are often just trying to keep their heads above water. We all need a life preserver to hold onto and drag us out of the current of our own story. This begins with acknowledging there is a bigger story than our own- God’s story. Realizing our need for grace should fuel the compassion we extend to others. Unless we provide a safe place for people to process and grow, our relationships will remain stuck.

    Trust is the linchpin to true connection. The erosion of trust leads to the erosion of safety. When someone refuses to listen or participate in a crucial conversation, it reveals they don’t feel safe with their surroundings. The foundation of trust crumbles as emotions and hostility reign. Emotions run raw when we are feeling isolated and disconnected from others.

    In his book The Power of The Other, author and psychologist Dr. Henry Cloud states that every relationship resides in one of four corners of connection. The first corner is simply a lack of connection where one is disconnected from everyone. Making your home in this corner leads to feelings of loneliness and depression. People choose this corner because they are afraid of getting burned yet again. If one ventures our from this place, they often head to the second corner, which is a bad connection. They reason that a bad connection is better than no connection at all. Finding yourself in this place is to know anxiety. Your identity is wrapped up in how you perform and measure up to others. When things don’t go right, you feel judged and condemned.

    If the individual doesn’t retreat back to the first corner as a result, they will reside in the third corner or better known as pseudo connection. This place is infamous for being the land of comfort, escapism and addiction. People set up shop in an effort to mask all their pain even if it only provides temporary relief. The last corner is where we all desire to call home. It is the land of real connection where you are loved and accepted just as you are. It doesn’t mean that conflict doesn’t exist but when you reside here you are able to hear and confront difficult things knowing you are safe. In our relationships, we must move to the fourth corner and be the type of person who shows compassion and grace.

    Knowing we have received grace, we are able to extend a hand to others. Judgement and condemnation are nowhere to be found. Together, you are able to engage in crucial conversations because everyone knows their soul and heart are safe with you. Compassion is a relationship between equals. It is only when we recognize our shared humanity that we are able to move in to relationships with others. This allows each individual to own their own story and engage with others authentically. Our common purpose frames the context for our caring.

    Reflection

    • There are four corners of connection: (1) no connection (2) bad connection (3) pseudo connection (4) real connection. In the relationships that hold the most influence on your life, what corner are you residing in and how is your current connection level influencing your growth?

    Prayer

    God, help me to confront the false stories I tell myself. Open my eyes to how I enable these narratives to dictate my actions and words as well as the depth of my relationships. May I pursue true connection with others and provide a compassionate environment for individuals to feel safe enough to reveal their true self. My desire is to honor You in my relationships. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

  • The King of Last Words

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    I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 1 Corinthians 1:10

    Insight

    I’ll let you in on a little secret: I’m the king of last words. Just ask my wife.

    Even though I’ve become better over the years, my tendency is to approach arguments as if they were high school debates. Only one side will be declared the winner and it must be me.

    I ramble off all my key points in hopes of opening the eyes of those who, for whatever reason, can’t see that logic and truth are on my side (note sarcasm).

    When I let the other person actually get a word in edge wise, I’m not paying attention to what they have to say. I take that back, I do listen, but not with the right motives. I want to hear something I can pounce on and once I’ve got that little nugget I glaze over everything else being said. As the other person rambles on, my mind is constructing a retort and rebuttal.

    Of course, I’m taking creative license and pushing these points to the extreme, but my reaction to an argument isn’t unique. In fact, I would dare say that many of you approach crucial conversations the same way. We want our points to be heard. We desire to be on the winning side. We long to be proven right.

    We’ve got it backwards: we are quick to speak and display anger, but so very, very slow to listen. Our ears aren’t tuned towards understanding, but instead firmly rooted in pride. Rather than looking for ways to serve, we demand our needs get met. In these moments, our thoughts and feelings tend to trump the truth.

    We don’t work towards understanding. Instead we crave victory. But, in the words of Pastor Rick Warren we should “go for the love, not the win.” Having a winning mindset towards these crucial conversations makes understanding impossible. It also kills dialogue and chokes out compassion. Each party leaves frustrated and feeling misunderstood.

    Love looks for the good in people. Love searches for understanding. Love extends mercy and forgiveness. Love creates an atmosphere of openness and transparency. Love wants the best for the other person.

    Now, please understanding. Love doesn’t mean we always agree, become a pushover, bite our tongue or never have an opinion. It means that we let the love of Christ guide our thoughts and our words as we speak the truth in love to one another.

    Reflection

    • How do you normally approach arguments or disagreements? How does this approach influence the dialogue and nurture the relationship?
    • What was the last argument you found yourself in? Has that relationship been mended? How is your heart towards this person?

    Prayer

    God, help me to go for love instead of the win. May I seek understanding rather than being declared the winner in my arguments. Allow me to desire unity and understanding. Help me to listen first before I speak. Guide my words today. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.

  • Don’t Hit Send

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    Clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exhalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, because He cares about you. 1 Peter 5:5-7

    Insight

    Have you ever received an email or saw a social media post that made your blood boil? Something that you took personally and got offended by? Maybe you took it a step further and hit reply or comment then pounded out your emotions through the keyboard.

    I am an emotional person. Since high school my mom has described me as being an “emotional rollercoaster.” I’ll admit she’s right. I take things personally and get offended all too easily. This usually leads to me hurting someone else or wallowing in my anger alone.

    One day, I was struck by the insight in today’s passage. I received a not so nice email, it was an “apology” email that somehow seemed to blame me and shame me at the same time. Reading this email got me so angry and I took their words very personally. My first thought was, “I can’t take this, I’m going to quit my job so I don’t have to deal with this nonsense.”

    I typed a response to get my frustration out (in Microsoft Word so no accidental sending would take place). Then I remembered Peter’s words which stung even more.

    Why do I have to be the humble one?

    I forced myself to open my Bible and read the passage over again and, as a result, something clicked in my head. I focused on “casting all your care upon Him” and realized this verse required a lot from me. It meant giving up all that anger, all that offended-ness and all that emotion. Holding on to these things kept me from being genuinely humble and loving towards other people and ultimately prevented me from being happy with myself.

    Being humble doesn’t just save other people from getting hurt by my emotions. When I truly cast those ugly feelings to God, I receive the desire to be kind in return. It saves me from the pain of carrying around those emotions. I felt so relieved at this revelation. My anger subsided and I replied to the email with a genuine thank you and well wishes for her weekend. I was thankful she completed something I had asked her to do and I really did hope she had a nice restful weekend. I knew she was someone who puts a lot on her own plate and could use a restful respite. That’s another thing about humility—without those heated emotions, I could actually see the person on the other end of the email and that I care about them.

    Reflection

    • What would it look like to clothe yourself in humility? How can you cast your cares to God so that humility doesn’t feel like a burden? What are potential positive outcomes for those around you and yourself if you do so?
    • How are your emotions blinding you from seeing the person on the other end of your confrontations?

    Prayer

    Dear Lord, thank you. Thank you for taking all my cares, my anger and my emotions so that I am able to see my friends, my family and my neighbors on the other end of the conflict. Help me to continue to humble myself, to continue to give up my feelings of pride and superiority to You. When I am stubborn and attempting to refuse humility, help me to see the love and the freedom that comes with being humble. In Your gracious and holy name I pray, Amen.

    PC3 writer Meghan Larson wrote today’s devotional.

  • What’s In Your Suitcase?

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    Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth…” EPHESIANS 6:13-14a

    For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs. ZEPHANIAH 3:17

    Insight 

    Before I leave for a fun trip, I get this nervous feeling that something bad is going to happen. Of course it’s quite possible something unfortunate could happen — we live in a broken world, after all. But what’s more disturbing is my feeling that I somehow would deserve it. Life might be going a little too well, and maybe I need an adjustment.

    Add to these negative thoughts my control-freak nature, and you get a picture of my brain the days before our Spring Break trip to Florida last week.

    Fortunately, I’m in the middle of a Bible study at PC3 called “The Armor of God” by Priscilla Shirer. We’re spending eight weeks studying the nine verses in Ephesians that describe how we, as Christians, can put on God’s armor to defend against attacks from the enemy. It occurred to me that the enemy wants to lock me in a prison of fear so that I can’t have a blast at Universal Studios with my husband and daughter.

    Then it occurred to me that I could pack the “belt of truth” in my suitcase. Through Priscilla’s teaching, I’ve learned that this belt, back in Bible times, would’ve been more like a “girdle,” wrapping around the torso of a Roman soldier and providing core support. Both then and now, God’s truth is our core support wherever we go.

    Here are some truths I tried to keep in mind during our trip:

    • Jesus loves me enough to die for me, so He will care for me even if something bad does happen
    • God rejoices over me (Zephaniah 3:17) and enjoys giving good gifts to His children (Matthew 7:11)
    • I don’t have to control everything to have a good time
    • It’s okay to relax and be a kid again!

    We did have a great vacation. So many special moments, like finding a devotional and Bible at the condo we stayed in. And Lucy getting picked from the crowd for the Harry Potter wand ceremony. And the remarkable lack of humidity — a Florida miracle!

    I praise God for helping me let go of my fear so I could enjoy a change of scenery with my family and embrace the truth of God’s great love for us wherever we go.

    Reflection

    • Do you ever leave God at home on a shelf when you travel?
    • What subtle or not-so-subtle lies has the enemy been telling you lately?
    • Which of God’s truths do you need to wrap your core with today? 

    Prayer

    Dear Jesus, thank you for coming down here to deliver truth and to be truth. The enemy tries to twist Your truth. When seeking truth, I can’t always trust my varying emotions (which have no intellect), or my intellect for that matter because I’m often wrong. Even my instincts can change. But I can always trust Your invariable, inerrant Word. What a relief! Help me wrap myself in Your belt of truth today. Amen.  

    PC3 writer Katy Davis wrote today’s devotional.

  • How Long?

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     How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? 
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?

    Look on me and answer, LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

    But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the LORD’s praise, for he has been good to me. Psalm 13

    Insight

    Sometimes silence can be deafening.

    While everything and everyone around you is quiet, content and fast asleep, you sometimes toss and turn at night wondering why God seems distant. You struggle to remember the last time you heard His voice. You wrestle with the distance while at the same time yearn for that missing connection.

    Numerous questions roll through your mind, but the one you can’t seem to answer is what God is doing by remaining silent.

    If you’re not careful, you can easily mistake silence with inactivity. This would be a mistake.

    Even in the midst of those quiet moments, God is still at work. When there is noise all around us, it can be difficult to hear the quiet voice of God. We’ve got mixed messages coming at us in all different directions while the message that truly matters gets lost in all the commotion.

    However, other times the silence can be self-imposed.

    Riddled with guilt we avoid God at all costs. Similar to the next-door neighbor whose Christmas lights we borrowed and never gave back, we attempt to stay out of God’s way. We know we’ve been slack in spending time with God, through prayer or reading His word, so we use that as an excuse to allow the distance to continue.

    We feel like we should do more before we ask Him to reconnect with us. We’ve got to earn our forgiveness and even the scales. We come up with a religious checklist that we need to mark off in order to even the score and be “right” with Him.

    Then there are those sin patterns we refuse to give up.

    Having a quiet time with God feels awkward because the elephant in the room (our sin) isn’t being addressed. If not dealt with, sin breaks our connection with God. Sin always pushes us into hiding and causes us to avoid exposure to light.

    On the other hand, maybe you keep apologizing for your sin and telling Him you’re sorry and fail to hear Him saying you’ve been forgiven.

    If sin isn’t causing the silence then it might be a disobedience issue. We remember vividly the last thing God asked us to do, but we blatantly refused to obey. Until we act in obedience, silence will remain. From God’s perspective, there is nothing left to be said. If you want to know God’s will it’s to do the last thing He asked you to do.

    The problem is we tend to filibuster God by talking too much. We go on and on with our requests, pleading and bargaining. Once that is done we go about our normal business. Our prayers are 99.9% talking and about 0.1% listening. Conversations aren’t conversations when they are only one sided. The time has come for us to be silent and reflect.

    Don’t panic if you can’t hear God’s voice.

    Panic causes us to rush right through reflection. God’s silence is not arbitrary, but rather designed to awaken us to Him. In the midst of our sin, God is calling us to repent and receive His forgiveness. In the midst of our suffering, God is calling us to trust and lean on Him. In the midst of our success, God is calling us to praise.

    When God seems silent to you, it is time for you to be silent before Him. Faith requires both expectancy and contentment. Don’t be surprised when God breaks His silence for the sake of His purposes.

    God is always working to form us into His image and shape us in holiness.

    Reflection

    • How tuned in do you feel to God’s voice? If there is silence or perceived silence, what do you believe is the cause of it?

    Prayer

    God, I pray that I wouldn’t panic in the midst of those moments of silence. May I trust that You are still active when I might not be able to hear Your voice. Help me to examine my heart and seek Your face. Help me to tune my ears to Your voice. Amen.