Hope for Life Blog

Tag: commitment

Rivals and a jealous God

by on Apr.02, 2017, under Hope

An enterprising young Chinese woman, identified only as Xiaoli, found herself a little short of cash. So she convinced her boyfriend to buy her an iPhone 7.

Then she got another iPhone 7… by convincing another boyfriend to buy her the smartphone. She did the same with yet another boyfriend. And another. And another.

Eventually, Xiaoli got 20 new phones from 20 boyfriends. She then sold the phones on the Internet and bought herself a house in the countryside! No one is sure which of the boyfriends will share the house with her or if any of them will.

In the Bible, God frequently told his people that he wasn’t willing to share their love. They could worship him, or they could worship false gods, but they couldn’t do both. God doesn’t want to be one “boyfriend” among many; he wants people to love him will all their hearts.

Are you willing to give your whole heart to God? Or are the things that would compete with him for the top spot in your life? Here are some common rivals:

  • Family. We’re often tempted to put people we love ahead of God. The Bible says that won’t work:

“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37)

  • Possessions. We love our stuff. We love money. We love having things around us. We can’t let those things become more important than God.

“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” (Matthew 6:24)

  • Sin. That should be pretty obvious, but some people have trouble coming to God because they don’t want to give up the bad things that they are doing. We have to be ready to let go of things that are wrong.

“But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.” (1 John 3:5–6)

  • Life itself. Sometimes, we’re so in love with this present life that we just aren’t that interested in the life that God offers. Jesus came to reach out to those who are weary of this world and long for something better. If we want to love God, we can’t continue loving the world as it is:

“You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” (James 4:4)

A girl with 20 boyfriends isn’t being faithful to any of them. Those guys aren’t going to let her continue to live that way and still be in a relationship with them. In the same way, if want to be with God, we have to be willing to put aside all of his rivals.
Jesus said it this way:

“Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.” (Matthew 22:37–38)

If you want to know more about loving God and giving yourself to him alone, contact us. Or just leave a comment on this post.

The Old Spy’s Request

by on Jun.14, 2015, under Hope

He had prepared, trained and studied. Now the military insertion was to begin, a 40 day infiltration to obtain intel on fortifications, topography, enemy strength and the best routes for the invasion to come. At age 45 he was one of the oldest men to be part of the equivalent of Seal Team 6.

The extraction was almost routine, but the debrief wasn’t. 10 of the 12 men sent in reported that their forces could never defeat the enemy. Only he and his partner forcefully recommended moving ahead with the invasion. The commanding general chose to wait. And from Numbers 13 to Joshua 3 of the Old Testament is a wait of 40 years.

Now a new general, Joshua, has led his army of Israelites in the conquest of the Land of Canaan, the same land settled by Abraham and Lot and their families some 400 years earlier.

It is then that the old combat veteran, now 80 years old asks his friend and fellow spy for the toughest assignment. The story is told in Joshua 14:6-15.

Then the children of Judah came to Joshua in Gilgal. And Caleb, son of Jephunneh, the Kenizzite, said to him, ‘You know the word which the Lord said to Moses, the man of God, concerning you and me in Kadesh Barnea. I was forty years old when Moses, the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to spy out the land and I brought back word to him as it was in my heart.
Never-the-less, my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt but I wholly followed the Lord my God.’
So Moses swore that day saying, ‘Surely, the land where your foot has trodden shall be your inheritance and your children forever, because you have wholly followed the Lord my God.’
And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, as he said, these forty five years, ever since the Lord spoke this word to Moses while Israel wandered in the wilderness; and now, here I am this day, eighty five years old.
As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in.
Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the Lord spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how that Anakin were there, and that the cities were great and fortified. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the Lord said.’
And Joshua blessed him an gave Hebron to Caleb, the son of Jephunneh as an inheritance

Caleb was an old warrior by the time he and his family began to rout the inhabitants of Hebron. When they had finished they had become the sole tribe in the area. Caleb consistently attributed his success to the fact that he wholly followed the Lord my God.

While the lessons are numerous when studying the life of Caleb, the single ever present aspect is his commitment to following God whether on a secret mission, unsuccessfully arguing to take the land, waiting 40 years or finally defeating the enemy.

What does wholly followed the Lord my God mean to you and have you actually followed God? In your life is there a difference between professing and the doing? Are you going to do something about that?

Sitting in the hen house doesn’t make you a chicken…

by on Oct.14, 2012, under Hope

This is one of my favorite sayings from my mother-in-law.  I like it because it is funny, and even more because it is true.  Hanging out with chickens does not make you a chicken.  Of course, my mother-in-law also has a second part of that statement:  and sitting in the church house doesn’t make you a Christian.  But some people think it does.  This is the attitude that leads to church attendance without church involvement. 

 People think that God accepts them if they show up at his house on Sundays.  They do not want to be offended by the sermon.  They do not give any money.  They want to sit in the back and be left alone.  Or they may be friendly and engaged in the worship service, but they have no intention of letting Sunday church attendance interfere with the way they live the other six days of the week.  They subscribe to the church beliefs, they show up most Sundays, and they may even be good people who live moral lives.

But they are missing the point.  Christianity is about being with God, not an attendance policy.  Our sin separated us from God, and Jesus died for our sins so that our relationship with God could be restored.  When we give our lives to Jesus, we are dying to ourselves in order to be born into a new life.  When you come to a church service, you need to know that you are surrounded by people who are there to be inspired to live up to the commitment they have made to Jesus. 

They are there to celebrate their life in Christ together.  They come with their struggles, their sin battles, and their failures.  But they come to celebrate forgiveness, restoration, and the power of God to change lives.  They are there to encourage each other, to pray for each other, and to remind each other of their commitment to that belief. 

So if you have been going to church without the commitment … you might as well sit in the hen house and see if you grow feathers. 




Fit Fat

by on Aug.22, 2011, under Hope

It was a headline made to grab my attention, and it worked.  This was what I was looking for:  a way to be fit and fat.  Or fat, but still fit.  It seemed to promise an easy way to health without much effort on my part.  Then I saw the pictures.  The two people in the ad did not have an ounce of fat between them.  They looked nothing like me.  In fact, I am fairly confident no one in real life has ever looked that way.  So now I was confused. 


I wonder if that is the way we Christians have advertised the Christian life.  Have we invited people to a life that promises a spiritual walk with Jesus while letting them still live life on their own terms?  Do we try and offer the “best of both worlds”?  Christianity that requires little effort and will not inconvenience anyone.    The image we show is of a life with no problems, no worries, and no pain.  So do people see the image and become skeptical?  Do they realize that something in that view of the Christian life does not add up?


I think a more honest health ad would be a picture of a real person sweating on a treadmill with a caption that talked about months of hard work to lose a few pounds.  Maybe it would even declare that there are no shortcuts and that the way to real health involves a commitment to a lifestyle of exercise, proper rest, and a reasonable diet.  Deep in my heart I know that is the only way to look and feel better.  There are no shortcuts.  The image ad is not really fooling anyone.  They know it, and I know it.


Christianity works that way too.  It is a call to a lifestyle that is radically different.  Honestly, it is an invitation to a life that will still have trouble in this world.  But it is an invitation to be in a relationship with the One who has overcome this world.  So to follow Jesus is not easy.  It is not without pain and it is not without struggle.  It does, however, work.  It gives purpose and meaning in a world of confusion.  It is real.



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