Hope for Life Blog

Archive for November, 2009

I’m Afraid I’m Not Good Enough …

by on Nov.30, 2009, under Hope

Buy in.  Let go.  Take a leap.  Get out of the boat.  Walk on the water.  Go all in.  Sell out completely.  Give it all up.  Don’t hold anything back.

All of these phrases refer to the spiritual concept of being totally committed to Jesus.  It is a desire many of us have had but not all of us have done.  Maybe you are one of those.   You find yourself hanging around the fringes of Christianity – knowing there is more to it.  You go to church on Easter, Christmas, and Mother’s Day.  You pray when in crisis.  You try not to do anything very bad, and you try to be a pretty good person.  But all the time you know there is more to it.  What is holding you back?

It may be the fear that you will not be able to live up to that kind of commitment.  What if you don’t get all the sin out of your life?  What if you lose your spiritual focus sometimes?

Let me share some good news.  God does not expect you to do it all on your own.  When you make that decision to fully commit to Jesus, he provides valuable resources to help you be His person in this world.

God gives you His Holy Spirit to live in you.  You get that gift when you are baptized.  The Holy Spirit gives you power to put to death the sin in your life.  The Holy Spirit will help you become the person God sees in you.  It serves as a guarantee of salvation until Jesus comes back.

God puts you in community.  You are not on this journey alone.  We are family.  We are one body.  We share in the same baptism, we celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus together, and we share the same Holy Spirit.  We pray together, worship together, and serve together.  We provide for our needs together.  We encourage each other, hold each other accountable, and forgive each other.  We laugh together and we cry together.

God will provide the help we  need.  It is up to us  to make the commitment.


When a Church Stops Being a Church

by on Nov.23, 2009, under Hope

In the New Testament, we read about a church that was very hard-working and careful to defend all the correct teachings. They were quick to expose those that tried to teach mistruths. They had maintained their faith during difficult times. They had done all of these things … yet Jesus told them that if they didn’t change, they could no longer be counted as one of his churches!

Jesus said this to the church in Ephesus: “Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love” (Revelation 2:4). Just as married couples can lose the romance from their relationship, churches can lose their love. They begin to focus on ritual perfection and doctrinal hairsplitting, and they forget their reason for existence. They lose their first love. Instead of being an organism, Christ’s body, they become an organization. Rules, regulations, and rituals replace relationships. What gets lost along the way is the loving spirit Christians should have.

Jesus rejects empty rules and hollow rituals. That’s not how he envisioned the church, nor what he will allow his churches to be. The church must be a community of love, characterized by a fervent love of God and of fellow man. It is to be an accepting place, not accepting intentional error, but accepting imperfect people.

If you haven’t found the church to be this way, don’t give up! There are churches out there who remember their first love and continue to live it. There are Christians who work every day at becoming more like Jesus.

If you are a Christian but have forgotten what you are supposed to be about, it’s not too late. Jesus said to these Christians in Revelation 2: “Repent and do the things you did at first” (Revelation 2:5). We can go back to our first love, living out that love in our daily lives. We can replace empty ritual with a fulfilling life of love. We can return to being the body of Christ.

The church is an organism, not an organization. It is fueled by love, following the God that is love. We must never forget.


I Love My Shredder

by on Nov.16, 2009, under Hope

I admit it.  I love the office shredder.  It might be because I am mesmerized by loud machines that destroy things.  But I am also fascinated by the process.  After a document is run through, there is no way to reconstruct it, no way to put it together again, and no way to know what was originally there.  We use it to destroy sensitive documents, addresses, and any material we do not want seen.

I also use it for something else.  I use it to destroy my mistakes.  If I print the wrong form, misspell a name, or use the wrong name — a quick trip to the shredder and it is as if it never happened.  It is gone forever.

But I also enjoy the shredder because there are times when see it as a reminder of what God has done for me.  I envision lists of my mistakes and sins kept somewhere by the Devil himself.  And I picture Jesus taking those lists and running them through the shredder.  The evidence of my guilt is destroyed.  The list of my sins can never be reconstructed.  They are gone forever.

That is exactly what God did when He sent His Son Jesus to die for my sins.  Because I believe in Jesus, because I decided to die with him, my sins are gone forever.  The devil cannot use them against me to keep me out of heaven.

So I enjoy using the shredder.  It reminds me how grateful I am that God has wiped away my sins forever.  He can do that for you too.  If you want to visit more about this, check out our blog at www.hopeforlife.org.  Or write me at steve@hopeforlife.org.

I admit it.  I love the office shredder.  It might be because I am mesmerized by loud machines that destroy things.  But I am also fascinated by the process.  After a document is run through, there is no way to reconstruct it, no way to put it together again, and no way to know what was originally there.  We use it to destroy sensitive documents, addresses, and any material we do not want seen.

I also use it for something else.  I use it to destroy my mistakes.  If I print the wrong form, misspell a name, or use the wrong name — a quick trip to the shredder and it is as if it never happened.  It is gone forever.

But I also enjoy the shredder because there are times when see it as a reminder of what God has done for me.  I envision lists of my mistakes and sins kept somewhere by the Devil himself.  And I picture Jesus taking those lists and running them through the shredder.  The evidence of my guilt is destroyed.  The list of my sins can never be reconstructed.  They are gone forever.

That is exactly what God did when He sent His Son Jesus to die for my sins.  Because I believe in Jesus, because I decided to die with him, my sins are gone forever.  The devil cannot use them against me to keep me out of heaven.

So I enjoy using the shredder.  It reminds me how grateful I am that God has wiped away my sins forever.  He can do that for you too.


God knows

by on Nov.09, 2009, under Hope

Late in his life, the apostle John finds himself in a prison of sorts, exiled to the island of Patmos. The island is tiny, only 25 square miles (64 square kilometers). It is a barren place where political prisoners are sent to contemplate their actions. John’s crime is a simple one: he is a follower of Jesus Christ.

There on Patmos, John has an impressive vision of Jesus, risen from the dead and standing triumphantly. Jesus shares with John a message of hope and encouragement for his followers that are about to suffer a time of persecution. This message, contained in the Book of Revelation, is couched in symbolic language, a style of writing commonly used at that time. While much of it seems strange to us, the symbols used in Revelation would have been familiar to the original readers.

John sees Jesus standing in the middle of seven golden lampstands, which Jesus later explains: “The seven lampstands are the seven churches” (Revelation 1:20). John then receives seven letters for seven churches in the Roman province of Asia, an area where the Roman emperor was about to make problems for the Christians. Jesus begins the first letter by saying: “These are the words of him who … walks among the seven golden lampstands” (Revelation 2:1).

The message of this image is as simple as it is important: when Jesus’ followers face difficult times, Jesus is there with them. He stands in the middle of his churches, not far from them. In each of the seven letters, Jesus uses the phrase “I know …” He knows what they’ve done, he knows their circumstances, he knows the enemies they face and the struggles they have. He writes to them as one who is infinitely familiar with every aspect of their lives. He walks among the lampstands.

None of that has changed. God knows you. He knows the good things you’ve done and the mistakes you’ve made. He knows the obstacles you’ve faced and what you’ve had to face them with. He knows your abilities and your possibilities even better than you do.

And he’s not far away. He’s nearby, waiting for you to turn to him and ask him for help. Whether you are facing persecution from the government or temptation from a co-worker, God wants to give you the strength to face whatever it is that threatens to pull you away from him. He’s close. He knows. And he cares.


Which Way Does Your Name Tag Face?

by on Nov.02, 2009, under Hope

I was at a large convention recently where all the participants wore nametags around their neck. This is a really good idea. It lets people know who you are, prompts you when you cannot remember names, and gives you a visual aid when you are meeting people. Nametags identify the company people work for. They let you know who you are talking to. But they only work when they are facing the right way. If they are turned around, they are absolutely useless.

Why would you wear a nametag no one is able to read? Why would you forget to check and be sure it had not twisted the wrong direction? Maybe they do not care if anyone knows their name. Maybe they do not want anyone to know who they are. Maybe they are ashamed of whom they are, or the company they work for.

I have known Christians who want to keep their identity secret. Maybe they are ashamed of things in their life, or they are embarrassed to be seen as a Jesus follower, or perhaps they do not even realize they are hiding their identity.

Jesus did not call us to live as “hidden” believers. The very act of coming to Jesus is not done in secret. It involves confession and baptism. From that point on, Christians serve as light in a dark world pointing to Jesus.

So maybe we all ought to pay attention to which way our name tag faces.



Switch to our mobile site

Website Design:
Travis Langley & Associates
Copyright © 2009 - Hope for Life : All Rights Reserved

sitemap | contact us