Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Starting Your Own Relationship With Jesus Christ (And Why We Need Him!)

(Updated 3/12/20, to simplify it, add new stuff, and make it cleaner-looking.  I’ve been wanting to do this for a long time.)

John 3: 16: “For God so loved the world that he sent his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

God so loved the world.  He didn’t just love the world; He so loved the world.  He so loved the world that He (Jesus) would die in our place before He would miss out on an eternal relationship with us.  He knew that we would disappoint Him and hurt Him and fail Him, but He still so wanted a relationship with us that He made a way.  He knew that there would be many, many people that would reject His gift of love and salvation, but an eternity spent with those who would choose Him was worth the price of dying on the cross.  That is some amazing love!

Let me ask you something: If you were to die today or if Jesus came back today, would you be ready?  Seriously.  This life as we know it isn't going to go on forever.  And we are not invincible.  People die every day, in every kind of way.  Are you ready to face eternity, whatever comes the moment after you take your last breath?  Have you figured out who Jesus is and why He matters so much?

Because this will be what matters most the moment after you die.  Actually, it's what matters most in this lifetime, too, because it greatly affects what happens the moment after you die.

What to Expect When You're a New Believer

            What can we expect after our conversion?  After saying that prayer to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior?  What is the Christian journey like?     
            I was thinking about my post “Starting Your Own Relationship with Jesus Christ” and about how saying a prayer to accept Jesus’ offer of grace, forgiveness, and salvation is just the beginning.  But then what?  What comes after that?  Are there any help, tips, or cautions that we can pass on to new believers, something to help them in their walk with the Lord?

250 Questions to Ask God

            A thought hit me one night as I went to bed.  A new idea.  Something I thought was a fun, exciting idea.  I would love to write a list of questions that we can ask God, one a day.  Questions that we might not normally think to ask Him.  (This is reprinted from my other blog.)      
            I am passionate about learning to walk and talk with God, not just talking at Him.  And in the John Eldredge books I have been reading (he is my and my husband's favorite author . . ., he talks about going off into the wilderness and spending personal time asking God a question.  And then waiting for the answer.  I love that idea, especially since I believe that it is so important to practice hearing God and to deliberately invite Him into our days and our thoughts.  But it is so easy to let a day slip by just being busy with life. 
            And so I thought it would be great if there was a book of questions that would help us do that.  Now, there probably is a list like this out there somewhere, but I haven’t seen it.  And so I figured, I’ll make my own.  I’ll compile questions that I think are important to ask God, for the sake of learning to listen, to obey, for abiding in Him, and for walking with the Spirit more throughout every day.   

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

I've Got It Good!

            As the two bouquets of flowers that I received (one from the stranger in the store and one from my friend, in the November post “A Ray of Sunshine”) began to fade, I went to Hobby Lobby to find silk flowers to match them so that I could have a permanent reminder of this special gift that I was given.  I wanted to be able to glimpse the flowers throughout the day and think of the people who gave them to me, who noticed me and that I needed a pick-me-up.  And so I set out to put together a similar bouquet of silk flowers.
            And I had fun searching for the right ones, considering colors and shapes.  I worked on it for a good, long while.  And when I thought I had picked the right flowers, I went to the back of the store to find something else I needed.  As I did, I calculated the cost of the flowers.  Full price, they came to about $60.  But since it was 50% off, if would only be $30.  How wonderful, I thought, that they happened to be on sale the day I chose to go out and buy them. 
            But you know the funny thing?

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Overcoming Spiritual Fear

            Are you ultra-concerned about being a “good Christian” and doing the “right” thing, praying the “right” way, having the “right” attitude, and making the “right” choices?
            Do you find yourself desperately following “do and don’t” lists, afraid that you might step out of line?
            Are you often afraid that God is going to blast you with a lightning bolt for saying or doing something wrong?
            Do you feel like you are walking on eggshells with Him, always afraid of displeasing Him?
            Do you feel like no matter how much you strive to please God and do the right thing, you are always letting Him down?
            Are you afraid that He really isn’t listening to you or really doesn’t care that much about your “little problems” or aching heart?
            Do you hesitate to pray or share your concerns with God because you are afraid of burdening Him?  Afraid to have Him waste His time or energy on you, especially when there are greater tragedies and concerns in the world that deserve God’s attention more than you do?
            Is it hard for you to share your true feelings, thoughts, fears, and doubts with God because you are afraid of disappointing Him or earning His wrath?  So you put on a nice, polished, acceptable, capable, “good Christian” mask?
            Are you afraid of needing God?  Of truly, desperately needing Him?  Relying on Him?  (To really need Him is to be really vulnerable.  If we let ourselves need someone, we take the risk of getting let down, of being dropped on our faces.  And so, many of us don’t risk needing others, even God.  We try our best to be self-sufficient and self-reliant, even with God.  Which doesn’t work.  Eventually we will all find our self-sufficiency tested, in order that we might learn to rely on Him.)
            Deep down, do you doubt that God is a good, loving God who really does want the best for you?  Do you see Him more as a God who is unfair, harsh, or indifferent?         
            Have you ever secretly wondered, How could God ever really love me?  I’m just . . . me!  Messed-up me!  Surely, He could never forgive me or want a relationship with me?

            Whether or not we admit it, many of us have these kinds of fears.  And they hinder our spiritual walks and our relationships with Him, others, and ourselves.  So how do we deal with these kinds of spiritual fears?

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Questions for Getting to Know Yourself and Others Better

            I didn’t know where else to post this because it is so random, but I wanted to repost this list of questions from my other blog.  I was sitting there once with some family members, waiting in the hospital waiting room.  And it seemed like there wasn't much to do but wait and look at the television and wait some more.  Minutes turned to hours.  And I thought, Wouldn't it be great to have a book of meaningful questions that we could ask each other, just for fun and to hopefully learn more about each other and ourselves!  I wanted to go to the bookstore and find a book like that, one that could help us pass the time and yet talk about meaningful things.  And then I thought, Why not write one myself?  And that's how this list came to be.