Archive for April, 2014

People Who Need People

I was drained. I felt emotionally tired as I approached Tuesday night’s bible study that I lead. I felt about as spiritual as a brick.

I told the Lord that I needed his strength and his presence to lead the discussion.

And the night turned out great! I was encouraged by the fellowship. I felt more energy and inner strength after the discussion than before. I felt that God had used the time to calm my inner turmoil. How it worked, I don’t know. Yet, God had used the love and encouragement of the group to strengthen me.

Thursday night I had another small group that I needed to facilitate. Again, I was the leader. Again, I reached out to God for strength. And again the time went well. The group had become like family to me over the four years that we have met.

They rejoiced over the book that I had just written that they had helped me write. They gave many ideas for how to market the book, which I felt largely clueless in how to do.

We all have realized how rare and valuable a group of people who know us at a heart level and love us anyway can be.

I have been in small groups throughout my 43 years as a Christian. It is how I do the Christian life. I view small groups as transformational communities in which we help each other to grow in the faith.

But many of us tend to be Lone Rangers. We think that God and we are enough. We have not realized the necessity of being involved in a small group.

Yet, God has made us to need each other. He likens the church to a body – and we are just one body part. How silly it is to think that we can live a joyful and powerful life by just being a finger!

Through the years, I have benefited from people in my groups who could be counted on to teach me deeper truths from Scripture. Others would often show me love and compassion. And still others would be exhorters, challenging me to stretch and grow.

But we have to be connected where we can benefit from the unique way that God uses each of us to help one another. We can’t just be focused on studying the Word at the expense of not applying the Word to encourage and build up each other as the Spirit in us works. We can miss the full potential of small groups being places where people’s lives are changed in the midst of a loving community

Often we do not live the truths that we know. We know God loves us, yet we fear the future that he controls, the failure that he promises to work for our good, and the rejection of others in the face of his constant acceptance. In other words, we do not believe deeply that he loves us!

But in a small group, as we reveal who we really are in the company of spirit-filled people, we experience a taste of God’s love that can help us to accept the truth that because of God’s love we have a secure future, failure is no big deal, and the rejection of others stings but does not define us.

May our small group fellowship be for us the caring community that enables us to experience God’s love and makes us more like him.

God wants us to show his love, his humility, his forbearance, his forgiveness, his exhortation, and his encouragement to each other. This becomes a powerful witness to the world, as it has been throughout the history of the church. “See how they love each other!”


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“I am outraged! I am broken-hearted! Not again?” I said to God a few days ago.

I was at a Christian Writers Conference and God had just said to revise my book again. “I am sick and tired of rewriting this book! This must be the hundredth time you have led me to rewrite it.

“You know that “hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:12), so either tell me “Go” or change my hope so I can wait in peace.”

You would think that four years was long enough to write a book, but God’s direction was a clear “Wait!”

As I reflected on this unwanted guidance, I recalled how waiting on God for a wife really paid off for me. I believe I got a much better wife than I would have if I had not waited on God’s “Go.”

So, with much sadness and grief, mixed with his peace, I approach rewriting the book again.

Waiting on God means to lose control. We recognize we need God’s guidance and help. We are not the Master of our Destiny and the Captain of our Soul. He is.

Waiting on God means an interactive, intimate relationship in which we let him into our daily lives. We wait because he knows best.

We wait on God by not “jumping the gun.” It feels good when we can make things happen. But are the things that we make happen God’s good works or are they our futile attempts in serve God in our own strength (1 Corinthians 3:10-15)?

We wait even though it hurts, anticipating a better result than charging ahead. That could mean waiting for a spouse, a better job, or publishing a book.

We learn to wait in peace as we rely on the truth that obedience and trust in God is what life is about. And he likes to do this a step at a time. “Oh that they had such a heart in them, that they would fear Me, and keep all My commandments always, that it may be well with them” (Deuteronomy 5:29).

Let us wait on God until we hear his “Go.” May we be like David who waited patiently for God to fulfill his promise to make him king. May we wait until He brings us “up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He sets [our] feet upon a rock making [our] footsteps firm” (Psalm 40:2-3, brackets added).


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You Are Important!

I have always wanted to be important. For the most part, I haven’t regarded myself as that important because there were usually enough others that could outperform in an area that I was using to measure my worth.

If it wasn’t being too short, it was not being outgoing enough. If it wasn’t amassing as much power as someone else, it was not being as smart as some brain in the class.

There always seemed to be a reason to hinder my sense of being important.

I am sure that you struggle with being important too. Maybe we are not important?

Yet, God says, “[I] have made [you] a little lower than [Me], and have crowned [you] with glory and majesty” (Psalm 8:4-5, brackets added).

What? I am important? Based on what?

Based on how God sees us. Not based on being the brightest bulb in the package. Not based on being the best looking. And not based on being the wealthiest person in the graduating class.

What makes us important for all time is that that we are important to God. These are some things he says to us about how important we are to him:

  • “You are precious” (Isaiah 43:4)
  • “Let us make [you] like us, according to our likeness” (Genesis 1:26, brackets added)
  • “[I] see [your] ways and number all [your] steps” (Job 31:4, brackets added))
  • “You did not choose Me, but I chose you” (John 15:16)
  • “See how great a love [i have] bestowed upon you that you should be called [My child] (1 John 3:1, brackets added)
  • Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that [I live] in you” (1 Corinthians 3:16, brackets added)
  • “He who touches you, touches the apple of [My] eye” (Zechariah 2:8, brackets added)
  • “The very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Luke 12:7)

So, if we are important to God, what difference does it make?

It makes a big difference! We can quit striving to be important and learn to rest in being as important as we will ever be.

You may say, “This is sheer nonsense. Surely, my getting promoted, having a great family, and being well-known and respected makes me more important.”

No it doesn’t.

Not in God’s eyes it doesn’t. And he is the One who determines how important we are, not what you and others think. So we have stopped evaluating others [and our self] from a human point of view” (2 Corinthians 5:16, NLT, brackets added).

Because we are important, another difference is that “we have bold and confident access” (Ephesians 3:12) to God at anytime. We were important enough that Jesus died on the cross to make this access a reality.

A third difference being important has is that God wants to make us like himself and to use us to work alongside him in changing the world. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

So let’s accept the fact that we are important! And that will never change. Thank God for his gift of importance!



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