Why can’t I seem to worship exuberantly?

worshipping God in spirit

When you think about how you worship God, would you categorize yourself as an enthusiast? The enthusiast Christian loves God with all their being and shows it with with excitement. They live on a rollercoaster ride of “letting go and letting God.” They dream big dreams, pray big prayers, worship with their whole bodies, and create with inspiration. Perhaps you’re just the opposite – maybe the thought of attending a 2-hour long worship service with singing and dancing to be more like hell than heaven! Or, perhaps as I described the enthusiast Christian you thought I meant that all Christians must be that way – that if you aren’t finding yourself connecting with God, it’s because you’re not enthusiastic enough. That’s not where I’m going with this at all. In fact, being an “Enthusiast” is simply one of nine different ways of connecting with God described by Gary Thomas in his … Read More

How to start hearing from God

How to start hearing from God

Have you ever wondered why God doesn’t speak to you like He speaks to me? Or like He speaks to your friend, or spouse, or that famous speaker? I’ve had many conversations about this, since I feel like God has spoken to me in somewhat more “mystical” ways than people generally hear his voice. When I bring up these experiences, others often end up wondering why God hasn’t spoken to them in the same way So why is your experience so different from mine?  Do you long to connect with God but feel like he’s ignoring you? Do you try to do your prescribed 30 minute devotions every day, only to fall asleep or have your mind wander for 29.5 of those minutes? Do you struggle to concentrate during sermons, or find zero connection God via singing? I have good news for you, right from the pages of the early … Read More

when your faith just isn’t enough

When your faith isn't enough

Has anyone ever said to you, “you must not have had enough faith”? Have you ever heard someone say, “I just don’t have enough faith”, or “I can’t possibly have faith like that”? What is faith? Is it a desperate screwing up of your eyes and crossing of your fingers as you jump headlong across a pit of unknown length in the dark? Maybe. There’s something to be said for “blind faith” or “taking a leap of faith”. But I just read something in Acts that reminded me of another aspect of faith. Faith doesn’t come from within myself. “By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.” Acts 3:16 I can’t manufacture faith. I can’t force myself to have faith … Read More

what the use of incense in ancient worship means for you

Frankincense

I recently bought a kit of essential oils, and one of the ones in the package was frankincense. Have you ever smelled it? I bought some of the resin for a children’s ministry project once, but never have I smelled the distilled essential oil. I started looking it up online because I knew there were several references to it in the Bible. Of course, the most memorable reference to it is as one of the gifts of the magi. Frankincense was likely brought to Jesus because it was a symbol of his priestly role. The job of the priests was to go between the people and God, offering sacrifices and burning incense to God on their behalf. The people could not access God on their own, they needed this intermediary. Frankincense was also a huge part of the temple rituals. Exodus 30 details the building of the altar of incense, which … Read More

The Surprisingly Modern Lesson We Learn From This Ancient King

King Asa

King Asa was a rock star. He “did what was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God.” (2 Chronicles 14:2) He got rid of most of the idolatry in Judah. He built up and protected towns. And when he was attacked by an army much larger than his own, he prayed a powerful prayer to which God responded with a BANG. (as in a “bang your enemies are annihilated!”) Prophets spoke to him positively, exhorting him to continue to seek God. He purged the land of idols again. He held a great assembly in Jerusalem and moved the people to renew their covenant with God. He must have been a powerful leader because this was a true revival, not a half-hearted hurrah. “They took an oath to the LORD with loud acclamation, with shouting and with trumpets and horns. All Judah rejoiced about the oath because … Read More

40 Realistic Lent Ideas for Kids

The season of Lent covers the 40 day period before Easter. Each year it starts on a different date (because Easter moves around), although always on Ash Wednesday. It is said that the 40 days reflect Jesus’ time of fasting and prayer in the wilderness after his baptism. Many people sacrifice something during Lent (like coffee, sweets, or shopping) as a way to tune their hearts back to God. The point of sacrificing something important is to remember that God wants to be the most important aspect of our lives. When we come to depend on a sugary snack rather than prayer during the mid-afternoon slump, Lent reminds us of our waywardness and calls us back to our first love. Would you like to observe Lent with your kids? It seems like a very adult thing to celebrate, but it is possible to make Lent meaningful for children as well. The … Read More

Can preschoolers celebrate Lent?

This year, for the first time ever, I’m trying to do a bit of teaching on Lent with my kids. We talked a bit about Ash Wednesday and how people put ashes in a cross shape on their face. When they went to bed I traced a cross on their foreheads with my finger, which got a little weirded-out chuckle from them. BUT they did remember it for a few days! 😉 The next day we started our own version of “giving up for Lent”. Every time they do something kind or sacrificial for someone they get to put a dry bean in a jar. The plan is that the jar will be full of beans by the time Easter comes around. They are really getting into it, and both older boys got to add a couple beans today. At supper, Daddy accidentally knocked over the salt, and Dodger (age … Read More

4 ways busy moms can get into the Word

3 ways for busy moms to get into the Word

I hunched over the stove, tears dripping down my nose.  “Why God?” Another wail came from upstairs. It was my baby, who hadn’t slept more than 45 minutes at a time since he came home from the hospital, weeks ago.  I was exhausted, but I hoped against all hope that this time he would sleep for a bit, and that I would get to sit down with God for a while.  But no. My eldest was snoozing soundly in his bed, but this baby needed constant movement to sleep, and my power levels were flashing red.  “Why won’t you make him sleep so I can spend some time with you? Isn’t that a good thing?”  In the midst of his wailing, I was reminded of a Bible passage I’d read a long time ago:  “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us … Read More

Why a balanced heart is better than a balanced life

A balanced heart

It’s been a long time since I listened to a sermon. In between leading the children’s ministry, spending time in the mother’s room with one of my three babies, and just being my usual distractible self, it’s not very often I have the time or the presence of mind to sit and actually learn from a sermon. Today I found myself in the rare position of not having something on my mind, not having any children around, and not teaching. It’s like all the circles in my life’s venn diagram suddenly intersected and my brain actually felt like cooperating. The pastor asked a question: “What do you think Jesus would say if you asked him how he was doing?”  He concluded that it’s very unlikely he would say “I’m SO busy!” Ask me the same question. Or I’ll ask you. But yes, yes, I know, I know, we’re all busy … Read More