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

How jealousy can destroy your life

The poison of jealousy

Let me tell you a story. On their missionary journey, Paul and Barnabas made a stop at Pisidian Antioch. On the Sabbath, they went into the synagogue, as per their usual practice, and sat down. The leaders invited them to speak, so naturally Paul stood up and gave a full sermon. He reminded them of some of the Jewish history, then had this to say: “Fellow children of Abraham and you God-fearing Gentiles, it is to us that this message of salvation has been sent…What God promised our ancestors he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus.” (Acts 13:26, 32) Paul appealed to their shared history, showing the fulfilment of the law they had been following all their lives. In verse 38 he did mention that the gift of forgiveness is for everyone who believes, but obviously his audience at this point was the Jews (and the … Read More

Why running from God isn’t as great as you thought it was

running dog

Tonight I watched a dog running away from its owners. There were two vehicles trailing it along a main road, and a young boy feverishly chasing after it. Not having particularly fast legs or being any good with animals, I didn’t stop. I did however take a look at the dog as I drove carefully past. It was a golden retriever, and its face was awash in exhilarated, pride-filled glee at being free of the constraints of the leash. Mouth open, ears flapping, looking as purely joyful as any dog could possibly look. (if you’re looking at the picture above, picture that dog with about 50x more mischievousness and excitement in its eyes. This dog was beyond thrilled.) I wondered why it was running.  Did it feel tired of being held back? Frustrated at not being allowed to follow its own will whenever it wanted? In that moment of glory, I’m sure that dog wasn’t … 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

There’s a world of hurt out there…

The world is a dark, dark place. How can we reconcile our good God that’s full of light with the darkness out there? (PS You can find other devotional-type posts over here.) I get weekly reports from the Voice of the Martyrs. Honestly? Very often I wish I could just delete the report and not enter into the pain experienced by Christians worldwide. Sometimes I hold off on reading it for several days, thinking that maybe if I don’t read the report, it might just delete itself out of my inbox. But it doesn’t. The pain doesn’t go away. Pastors get beat up in broad daylight, in full view of authorities who do nothing. Churches in Tanzania are set on fire. Christians in Iraq leave their lives behind as they flee certain death. Christian schoolteachers are murdered in Burma. Christians worldwide are beheaded, beaten, falsely imprisoned, forced to leave their … Read More

Formational Easter Activities for Children

From the same creative mind that brought you “Truth in the Tinsel” comes “A Sense of the Resurrection – An Easter Experience for Families”. In this e-book you’ll find 12 days of activities to help your kids really engage with the Easter story. They will use their senses to smell, taste, see, touch, and see how real Christ’s love is for them. A couple of them are crafts, but most of them are more activity-based, which I prefer for my boys. Last year, with a 3 week old baby in our family, we didn’t do all the activities, but one we really enjoyed was washing each others’ feet. It felt very meaningful for our 5 and 2 year old boys. We won’t be able to do them all this year either, due to the close proximity of Easter to 40% of our families’ birthdays, but I have no doubt that … Read More

Renew a right spirit within me

A lesson from King David on how God redeems our greatest mistakes to create something that glorifies him. (And nope, I’m not talking about Bathsheba!) (PS You can read more of my “did I really just see that in the Bible?!”-type posts here…) As I’ve been listening to the Bible on my audio Bible app, I’ve been struck by something that happened during David’s reign. I noticed it in 2 Samuel, then discovered it turns up again in 1 Chronicles. In 2 Samuel 24:1, we read the following: Again the anger of the LORD burned against Isreal, and he incited David against them, saying “Go and take a census of Israel and Judah.” David has his commanders count all the fighting men in Israel, an act that shows either great pride in the size of his nation, a dependence on human security rather than God, or both. Almost immediately after the … Read More

The only person I want to look like

God's acceptance

“If a person has ugly thoughts, it begins to show on the face. And when that person has ugly thoughts every day, every week, every year, the face gets uglier and uglier until you can hardly bear to look at it. A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”  “The Twits” by Roald Dahl Sometimes I wonder what people see when they look at me. Do they see a goofy person? A thinker? A weirdo? A crazy DIY mom? None of those are particularly flattering, although that’s part of how I see myself. What do people suspect about when they first meet me? Do they suspect that I am kind, … Read More