Thursday, October 20, 2016

Top 10 Simple Ways to Enjoy a Fall Spiritual Renewal

Spiritual Renewal 

Life can throw some storms at us that can beat us down.  The results are draining.  Frustration.  Depression.  Confusion.  But God has designed us for something more.  We can be renewed.  

Here are 10 simple ways to enjoy a Fall spiritual renewal.  These are a number of ideas like a buffet for you to take and enjoy as you see fit. 

1.    Bible Binge

Break away from the normal routine and binge.  Binge on the Bible. Pick a theme and read.  The story of Moses and what God did to bring the people of Israel out of Egypt is an exciting adventure.  Read Exodus and include Psalm 90 (the only Psalm by Moses).  

A New Testament binge could be the books of Luke and Acts which were both written by Luke.  Add in the book of Ephesians.  The story of the early days of the church of Ephesus is in the book of Acts so you get a nice tie into the whole. 

2.    Walk with God

Go on a walk.  Release the pressures of life and see what God has done in the trees, animals, and sky.  As you move let the fresh air fill you and imagine God’s Spirit invigorating you from head to toe.  As you exhale let the worries, the heaviness, even the regrets of your life go.  Take the refreshing breath in, and let the polluted air out.  

3.     Picture Project

There are various seasons.  And for us, it is Fall.  A time of harvest. 

For everything, there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.  A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 (NLT) 

If you have a camera or one on your phone use it to capture scenes of the season.  Remembering God is at work.  See what lessons you can learn about God and about life as you capture pictures for an hour or two.  

4.    Audio Adventure

What are the sounds of the season?  What does Fall sound like?  Take a listen. Stop the flood of calls and TV or other devices.  

Close your eyes and allow your ears the opportunity to take in what God has made.  Is the wind blowing?  Are the birds moving, singing, or pecking?  What signs of life can you identify by listening? Take a few minutes without worry or rushing and let the sounds soothe. 

5.    Special Voices

God uses people to communicate to others.  He has parents, teachers, pastors, prophets, friends and others who will carry a message.  

 Therefore, we never stop thanking God that when you received his message from us, you didn’t think of our words as mere human ideas. You accepted what we said as the very word of God—which, of course, it is. And this word continues to work in you who believe. 1 Thessalonians 2:13 (NLT) 

Listen to a message that points you to God and His truth.  Maybe you have one on tape or mp3 that is a favorite.  If you don’t have one, then choose one from the many on OnePlace

Maybe you haven’t really heard the special voices of those around you.  God has placed them in your life to communicate to you.  Wrapped in those conversations are love and encouragement and maybe just the guidance you need right now.  Listen to those special voices, and be renewed. 

6.    Prayer Paths

Prayer is communication with God.  It is wildly invigorating.  The wisest and most powerful person ever is available to listen.  He is really a good listener.  He will also get involved in our lives in ways we didn’t expect because we probably didn’t take the time to talk to Him.  Or if we did it was fairly fast and rushed.  

Pick a path to walk and ask God to join you.  Pray as you go.  Acknowledge Him as God.  Confess anything that stands in the way between you and God.  Thank Him for being there with you.  Talk to Him about what is going on in your life and humbly ask Him for guidance and strength.  Listen as He works in you and responds to you.  You will notice peace entering deep within.  

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)

7.    Reflective Refuge

Stop! In the name of love.  Yep.  Stop.  The are lots of things needing to get done.  Many things need your attention.  You can get to those refreshed and better able to handle them by stopping and taking time for reflection.  Have you heard the saying about not seeing the forest for the trees?  It is hard to sort out the important from the non-important or the life-giving from the life-diminishing when we are right up against them.  Stop.  Step away from the crazy.  It will be there when you get back. 
Find a quiet place perhaps your living room or the front porch.  Take a cup of your favorite coffee or tea with you.  Bring a Bible, journal and pen.  Settle in.  Set a timer for 20 to 30 minutes.  Take a deep breath.  Exhale slowly.  Again.  And again.  Now open the Bible to Isaiah 40 or Psalm 104.  Read and take it in.  Who God is.  What He can take care of.  Consider what God is like.  In your journal make notes about what you discovered about God.  Let God know you appreciate Him. 
Go into the day rejuvenated knowing the great God has got this and He cares for you. 

8.    Touch Therapy

God designed the senses.  He has given you the ability to appreciate the world around you in many ways including touch.  Let God reach out to you through your fingertips.  Touch the bark of a tree.  Pick up the leaves and hold them and wonder at the life that has pushed through those veins rather than rush to get them raked and picked up.  Make a pile and lie in the middle of them.  Feel the handiwork of God in the season of Fall.  Rejoice in His creative ways. 

9.    Intentional Intimacy

God made people for relationships.  He wants people to get to know Him.  He wants people to come close.  He has made provision for that and has invited us to come close to Him.  

This Fall take time for intentional intimacy.  Go on a retreat.  Go away to be with God for a day or two.  Escape the routine and purposefully give God your undivided attention.  Talk to Him.  Get into His book.  Walk a trail or two.  Listen for Him to speak.  Feel His Spirit move in you.  Be redirected if need be.  Be refreshed.  Be close to God. 

10. Practical Peace

Peace is not just the absence of warfare.  Ask anyone whose guts are in knots and feel the world crushing down on their shoulders.  They could be an executive or a mother of three or a teenaged high school student making straight As.  Peace is not just getting away from the things or people that cause pressure.  

No, peace is a beautiful thing.  Available to God’s people no matter what storm is raging in their lives.  This practical peace comes from putting God first and letting Him carry the load.  Really.  Don’t let the skeptic come out.  Put God first.  Determine not to allow the things or people to be all powerful.  Pray asking God to come give a hand.  Thank Him for what He is doing.  Put your mind on the things that God has made, the wonders and beauty of life.  If the worries come back.  Stop and turn it back over to Him.  Set your mind back to those things that He has made.  Focus on what He can do.  

Peace will enter in with such alarming power that you can take on the toughest task and your peace not be shaken.  Imagine that.  No meltdowns.  No outbursts of anger.  No fear of the future.  Peace.  Go to God and see what He has for you on this. 


Choose on or two of the 10 and see what God does to renew you this Fall.  Keep at it for 21 days and you will begin a new habit.  By Spring who knows what renewal you will experience. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Positive Response to God and Rebellion

God is big, really big.  God is inviting people out of a world of chaos into an existence far beyond imagination.  God’s plan is for good.  God has people who positively respond to Him and those who don’t.  It seems to be better for everyone to go God’s way.  

In the days of old as the people of Israel left slavery to go with God He had a wonderful guide for them in the form of an angel.  God sent Moses as well, but there was an angelic guide involved.  Look at what God tells the people with regard to the angel.  

“See, I am sending an angel before you to protect you on your journey and lead you safely to the place I have prepared for you. Pay close attention to him, and obey his instructions. Do not rebel against him, for he is my representative, and he will not forgive your rebellion. But if you are careful to obey him, following all my instructions, then I will be an enemy to your enemies, and I will oppose those who oppose you.” Exodus 23:20-22 (NLT)

See the need for a positive response to God?  It is in the positive response that they are protected as he leads them to the place God had prepared.  The negative response… “he will not forgive your rebellion.”  That will make you stop in your sandals.  I think that has something to do with life going miserably wrong, and possibly painful for no other reason than I didn’t want to do what God who has only my good in mind wants me to do.  

I’m thinking that this specifically was what God was doing at the time with the people of Israel.  In this day God is still at work.  He has angels around.  He has human messengers like Moses to provide assistance as well.  And though the direct guidance of an angel with the pillar of cloud and fire by night has not been given to us God’s guidance in various ways is still very much available.  

So I am thinking a positive response to God eliminates so many routine problems.  It eliminates the obvious problem of having the angel against me, but other things too.  There is a place God has for His people that He wants to take them to.  It may not be the literal promised land, but it is a land of promise.  It may be anywhere in the world, but it includes getting to know Him and growing in character like His Son.  There is more to this on the other side of this physical existence, but, for now, this life is the focus.  

A positive response to God deals with the question of “why am I here?”  As a person goes with God the many details to that question get answered.  He doesn’t always feel the need to explain in full His plan to you and me.  We couldn’t handle it if He did.  A negative response to God can really disengage the GPS (God Positioning System).  We can get lost.  We can ruin our lives and others along the way.  A positive response keeps us moving to the land of promise.  

A positive response to God has the support of God and His armies against those who oppose you.  I have been opposed when doing the right thing (been on the other side too which is not so great).  You have probably been opposed as well.  Some of our battles are with people and some with those who are not flesh and blood.  It is a terrific comfort to have the Lord battle on our behalf.  

A new Star Wars movie called, “Rogue One,” comes out in December.  The movie trailers have a line in which the protagonist is in an interview regarding her participating in the great cause in order to free the empire from the evil ones.  She has a line in which she says, “It’s a rebellion.  I rebel.”  I like it.  Typically, people rebel against whatever order they see, whatever authorities that exist, whatever cultural rules are around them.  Rebellion has a place, but not against God.  I see the evil empire as Satan’s domain.  He is the prince of the power of the air.  He is dragging people into darkness.  I choose to be in a rebellion against the devil.  And I say, “It’s a rebellion. I rebel.”  

Being positive in the things of God breaks the power of darkness.  I rebel against the darkness.  Being positive towards God’s leading takes me to the light.  I rebel against the enemies of my soul.  Being positive in the things of God means I say, “Yes,” to Him.  It means I fight the darkness of the culture and world I live in.  It means I fight against my own tendencies to follow my opinions and feelings.  It is a rebellion.  I rebel.  I choose, and I choose to be positive for God.  How about you?

Monday, July 25, 2016


Why listen?

Who are the people we are to listen to?  Why listen to one over another?  

I might choose to listen to an experienced electrician over someone whose knowledge was acquired by listening to Glen Campbell sing about the Wichita Lineman.  It is good, I think, to have a surgeon who has been trained before cutting on me.  There is a place for authority and knowledge in certain areas.  

I was asked recently, “Why should I listen to you over others?”  Good question.  And if it has to do with surgery I suggest listening to the surgeon.  The question was more directed at the spiritual.  So, indeed, why listen?  


For those interested I will offer a response.  The Apostles had to provide an answer to that kind of question from time to time.  It is legit.  Paul answered it.  And John does so as well.  Take a look at the way John does this.  

 We proclaim to you the one who existed from the beginning, whom we have heard and seen. We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands. He is the Word of life. This one who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that he is the one who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then he was revealed to us.  We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.  We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy. 1 John 1:1-4 (NLT) 

John shares in this opening to his letter the authority he has.  There is theology and experience.  There is knowledge and emotion.  He explains that his life is better as a result of this revelation and experience with Jesus which is joy to him and he wants others to share in that joy too.  

Did people accept that John had seen Jesus or that Jesus was the Word of life revealed by God the Father?  Some did.  Many unfortunate ones did not.  Could God really send His Son to be born as a human being?  Could the Son be Jesus, and, if so, what would that mean for people?  

It is so generous of God to reveal Himself in various ways to people through the ages, but His greatest revelation was in His Son.  Amazing love for us prompted that.  And Jesus came and died and rose again.  He has been elevated to the highest position above all others.  To know Him is joy as John said.  

I agree with John and I am writing these things so that others may fully share in the joy of fellowship with God the Father and His Son, Jesus.  Knowing Him has been a joy for me from the very beginning when I really realized who He really is and received Him.  For me the swirling chaos of the world began to fall into order.  My heart swelled with a new kind of love.  To seek after Him was of top concern.  The earliest verse I remember intentionally memorizing was Jeremiah 15:16.  

Your words were found and I ate them, And Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; For I have been called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts. Jeremiah 15:16 (NASB) 

Going through and reading the Bible was an adventure like no other.  Learning to study it and discover more from it made it even better.  Eventually I went to college and seminary.  The education added levels of knowledge and training in ministry which I needed and appreciate.  My journey in walking with God and pointing others to Him has gone on now for 44 years.  

Lots of people have more and better education than I have.  Many have better ministry credentials.  Not all those who have better education or ministry credentials know God as I do.  That is something to boast about according to Jeremiah the prophet.  

Thus says the LORD, "Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things," declares the LORD.  Jeremiah 9:23-24 (NASB)

To know Him is a thrill.  I love it.  I love Him.  Everyday.  In all situations.  Knowing Him is a delight.  It has been since the beginning, but has increased exponentially along the way.  He has been a rock, my constant, my guiding star.  He has been the Almighty at times and a friend who listens at other times.  He has corrected me and held me accountable for wrongs I have committed, and He has been gracious and forgiving of sins I have done.  He has loved me when I didn’t really love.  He has poured love into me so that I could have something to share.  His presence is unbeatable.  His wisdom incomparable.  His teaching always remarkable.  I am indebted to Him for allowing me to know Him.  

As He did with Paul He has done with me.  Paul met Jesus after His death, burial, resurrection and ascension into heaven.  The risen Christ met with Paul.  Initially on the Damascus Road, but later Jesus trained Paul.  He mentions this in Galatians.  

I received my message from no human source, and no one taught me. Instead, I received it by direct revelation from Jesus Christ. Galatians 1:12 (NLT) 

I am different from Paul in that I had a number of wonderful human teachers.  God-given and gifted teachers who love the Lord.  I, like Paul, have also been taught by the Lord.  Why He chose to do things that way I have no answer for.  He showed up.  

I also identify with John in his opening of 1 John. “We saw him with our own eyes and touched him with our own hands.” When the Lord showed up I saw Him, the risen Christ, with my own eyes and touched Him with my own hands.  He spoke.  I listened.  I was scared.  He comforted.  I was questioning.  He answered my questions.  I was overwhelmed by His radiance, His presence, His glory, His magnificence, His kindness, His love, His wisdom.  That experience with Him a few years ago opened up more opportunities with Him.  It is still a mind-blowingly incredible thing to meet with Him, to learn from Him, to have a relationship with Him.  Bible study, prayer, ministry and just living have even more wonderful facets to them.  All of them shining in His light.  

So, why listen?

It glorifies the Lord and goes better for you.  Listen to the leaders God has given you.  Those who know God and teach you His Word.  Watch their lives and see if it is real.  Follow the example of their faith.  Hebrews has a couple of verses that help with this.  

Remember your leaders who taught you the word of God. Think of all the good that has come from their lives, and follow the example of their faith.

Obey your spiritual leaders, and do what they say. Their work is to watch over your souls, and they are accountable to God. Give them reason to do this with joy and not with sorrow. That would certainly not be for your benefit.  Hebrews 13:7-17 (NLT) 

Why listen to me?  If God has given me to you as a leader, then listening to me is a good idea.  If you have another leader, then listen to them.  Do it and you will honor God and it will be for your benefit.