A Month (or More) in Prayer Journaling

I’ve posted about this on my personal Facebook as well as the Just Hold Fast page and it was something that had been on my mind and heart. I don’t pray enough, or didn’t. I don’t know the barometer of what is ‘enough’ because the Bible tells us to never cease praying (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). What I do know is it lingered there, in the back of my mind and I had not considered how to fight it with tools like journaling. I do all the expected praying, I talk to God when I first wake up, at meals, during bed times and if someone asks me to, I pray for them. I do not understand the practice of telling someone you will pray for them and then not doing it. You’re basically lying, even if well meaning and you forget because life has gotten you distracted.

We know prayer is a powerful thing that God wants us to do. How often do we forget to? Journaling can help and God saw that specific need in my life. Like the good Father he is, he provided a way for me to get what I needed to deepen my relationship with him and I want to share that with you.

Consider this, where do you think that distraction has come from? The enemy. He doesn’t want you to pray for anyone. In fact, he will throw up all kinds of roadblocks to prevent you from doing so. I’m guilty of being distracted, that is the reason why I am writing this and the purpose is to give you an idea of what consciously focusing on praying has done for me and my relationship with God. TL;DR, it’s way better than it was!

How it all Started

I’m going to blame this one on Tara over at Story of My Heart for giving me the thing I didn’t know I needed. Lots of folks have heard or seen the movie War Room which shows just how transformational prayer can be. The movie depicts the Jordan family who from the outside have this wonderful marriage but the reality is that at home their marriage is in shambles, it is a war zone. All seems lost and yet, God provides the wife with help from an older and wiser woman who leads the wife to the power of constant prayer and journaling it to show the good it can do. Things change, the family becomes closer and it is all because of God and the practice of talking to him.

I tell you all of this to say Tara gave me a copy of ‘The Battle Plan‘ which is a small book that goes along with the movies concept. The book itself is pretty diminutive in size but what it represents is something so much greater. I am late to the game with this book and the concept itself is not new. What the movie has done is re-envision the prayer journaling is and communicate its purpose. It has been re-envisioned in such a way that it helps Christians who are struggling to keep that prayerful connection.

For me, it has worked. What does around 3 months in prayer look like? It will be different for everyone, I’ve prayed daily and logged prayer requests that have both been asked for and simply me finding out about some event that someone would need prayer about. I was not perfect in this endeavor because I would often forget my journal after a week of work and I would try to rememeber who and what I prayed for so that on Monday I could fill it out. So what does that look like?

Prayer Journaling
Prayer Journaling

Why Journaling Matters

The whole purpose of journaling is not to give you ammo to feel like you are praying more than others, it is not there to make you boastful. I would argue instead that it does more important things like reminding you how powerful prayer can be. James 4:2 tells us that, “You do not have because you do not ask.” and when we turn away from Gods’ invitation to communicate with him directly we neglect the fact that this whole spinning ball and all that it entails exists because He simply spoke it in to being.

Journaling serves other purposes as well. When you journal and you see how God responds to your constant prayer it humbles you to see how much of an impact your work for His good will be in peoples lives. Journaling serves as a reminder to pray until it becomes a habit and then it keeps you on track.

Even with all of that I think that journaling about your prayer and connection to God does something infinitely more important, it dispels doubt. Christians and non-Christians alike doubt God. I struggle with that in times of high stress when I see no way out on my own and that is the key thing for me. I know that intuitively it is just doubt that is strangling me but my desire to operate on my own, outside of the influence of God. Journaling has helped center me and remove that issue from my life. It had tempered my need to control and allowed me to prayerfully serve others, regardless of their knowledge that someone out there, even a stranger, prayed for them.

Conclusion

I did not write this to boast or brag about my relationship with God. Instead I want to encourage you, with all of my heart, to pray more. Let me pray for you. Regardless of the circumstance and our desired outcome, God has a plan and when we embrace that, commune with him and serve others great things will happen. It is not something you do in the hopes of gaining ground with God because that is not how it works. We do not act and follow Jesus with the hope of Heaven as a reward. We follow his simple invitation to live as he has so that we live the way God intended us to. Without the death and resurrection of Jesus there is no Christianity. Jesus prayed constantly to God and he is perfect. We, flawed humans need a little help and I believe journaling is one of the most effective ways that we can continue to pray and keep a strong relationship with God.

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Daily Devotional – Tuned in to the Son

Tuned in to the Son

Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. – John 6:53

All of the devotions lately have lead towards the same conclusion. It may seem repetitive but that is precisely what I think is necessary so that we understand, certainly myself included, is that we need to be tuned in with Jesus. I’ve talked about devotionals, prayer, reading God’s word and more but one of the other ways we do this is by communion. The reference verse here is from the Last Supper. Jesus was telling his disciples that one of them (Judas) would betray him and that Peter would deny him three times. It is at this last supper that the first Eucharist was held. Opinions will vary in what the consecration of the bread and wine means such as they truly become the body and blood of Christ. For me, it means that Jesus is saying to eat of the flesh of the Son of Man is to dive deep in to the word of God and to drink of His blood is to confess my sins. Why do I believe that?

Tuned in With the Flesh of Christ

As Christians we talk about how God feeds us. The Israelites were literally fed with manna from Heaven while wandering after their liberation in Egypt. Christ fed the multitudes on the shores of Galilee. He fed the Apostles at the last supper as well. When Christ ascended after His resurrection the church was established with Peter but how do we continue to get nourishment from God? Through the Bible. If the words of God and Jesus were not written down then how could we even begin to contemplate what God can be and is in our lives? God has thought of everything and that includes the after-care when Christ went back to His Father, our Father. He has left us a buffet of soul food we just have to bring an appetite.

Tuned in With the Blood of Christ

How often do I confess to God? Daily. He knows I need it. I would think that all of us do. That time when I am praying during my drive is when that happens. I confess, I thank Him profusely and then I beg for His words to be part of me. For His wisdom, even a grain of it, to help me through my day. When I am heading home I thank Him for the day regardless of how great or terrible it has been and I ask him for peace and comfort. I ask that He allow me the strength to put the attitude I may have on the bad days aside so that when I get home I can love my loved ones with no negative influence. If the days are great I ask Him to give that wider buoyancy and allow my mood to become infectious to my family. All of that comes after confession. God knows what we do in public and in private. There is no secret place he cannot find us in. The best way for me to talk with God is by putting my failings up front and center so that I show I am broken, I know I will forever need His grace. He is always there ready to meet us anywhere and anytime we are ready. The season doesn’t matter.

Final Thoughts

In my humble opinion Jesus gave us many instructions such as the Golden Rule but at the Last Supper he gave us what all of those instructions really sum up to. His flesh made into the word of God is symbolized in the bread he broke and gave to the disciples. That bread when broken fed many just as the Bible has been printed uncounted times across the world. It has fed many in the same way the manna and the fish have throughout the Bible. His blood the symbol of our sin being washed away. God made it clear we must repent even after the death of Christ (1 John 1:9). Being spiritually fit keeps us connected to Him. By honoring the Eucharist, going to church, reading our Bible, doing devotions and praying we are opening our hearts and our ears to God. These things keep us aware of how He would feel about our potential to commit a sin. These things are our compass to God’s will. I’m not perfect by a long shot but I do notice that when I make conscious efforts to stay tuned in with Him I am so much more aware of the neverending grace I have in my life because of God.

Daily Devotional – The Person in the Mirror

Person in the Mirror

Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. – James 1:23-24

When we exercise spiritually we are practicing for the potential spiritual threats we may experience in life. I say may because we have been guaranteed to face hardships but I do not wish to come across as a person speaking hopelessness! I speak life! It is why I started this, I want anyone who comes across this to get something spiritually from it. We may be focused on the Christian male but that does not mean we exclude anyone. Spiritual fitness is not like riding a bike you can lose your agility to combat the enemy if you do not keep in touch with God. When we look at ourselves in the mirror do we confront the person we are or do we look and see a person we are pretending to be and live in denial?

Fearing the Mirror

A person who looks in the mirror and sees a person they have fooled themselves in to thinking they are is a person that is spiritually shallow. I in no way mean this to be condemnation because a whole chapter of Romans was dedicated to why we should not condemn anyone (Romans 2:1-29). The first part (Romans 2:1-4) deals with the hypocrisy of the Christians in Rome against the Gentiles. In many ways these Christians were not looking in the mirror  because ultimately the saying, “we’re all human” applies to this so much. The new covenant dissolved the idea that only the Israelites were God’s only people. Sometimes, we as Christians get so caught up in the righteousness that we have through Christ that we also forget that the very righteousness we have is given through faith and that it doesn’t matter who you are (Romans 3:22). We should not be hiding ourselves or trying to because fact is, God sees us even in our hidden place.

Owning the Mirror

I can’t even remember this guy right here. Not who he was but that I looked like that.

Scott - Freshman Football

When I look in the mirror every day, and let’s be honest, I got to keep my hair looking good, I mean look at the brillo pad I have.  When I look at myself I want to be happy with the man I see because ultimately I represent my faith. Am I happy spiritually with who I am, with how I lead my life, my family? If I can say yes to that then I am owning the mirror. Whether it is at work or home take a minute to look at yourself. Not your physical shape, you have the ability to change that just as much as you do your spirituality. Can you say you’re leading a life that represents Jesus to the best of your ability? Maybe you don’t realize the full potential you have for being a disciple. Don’t fret, we all don’t know that. Only God does. We can however ask Him to help us understanding or guide our decisions to be His will. That is why praying is important. how can we ask God to help us if we don’t talk to Him? Own the mirror. You’ll see a happier person.

Final Thoughts

We need to own the mirror every day and we can only do that by diving deep in to the waters of faith. It is a great unknown but He walks beside us. Reading the Bible every day is a great way to start. Do a daily devotional and you’ll start hungering for me. Who was Jesus? Who can I help see Jesus in me? The Bible is God’s word put to ink by men that He breathed words in to. Read, Pray and then get rid of that fear of the mirror and own it. Be what God wants not only in public but in private. He sees it all. Since the beginning he has watched man sin and then try to hide it. Since the beginning He has called man out for those sins and their desire to keep it hidden. When we look in that mirror what do we see? A paper Christian or a man who wears the armor of God and is ready to do battle with hell wherever it is at?

Daily Devotional – Grow in Faith

Grow

Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. – 1 Timothy 4:15

If God has truly made an impact in your life because you have truthfully made the commitment to trust Jesus Christ as your savior then you will grow. To give the reference verse some back story, Paul is writing to Timothy whom he asked to go to the church in Ephesus because it was a mess. A mess because while they loved God they had forgotten how much God loved them. They were a church on autopilot. In Revelations 2:1-4 Jesus tells them directly that while they profess in faith and show a walk in faith for anyone to see they do not grow in faith because they have left their first love by putting their devotion in to the church and not the people of the church.

Faltering in the First Love

Remember the butterflies that you had when you accepted Jesus for what He is? Son of God, the Lion, the Lamb and more. I would be lying if I said that it did not wax and wane for me. I’m human and broken. Sometimes I don’t like what God is putting in front of me, but I still love Him. Those times when I am listening to the enemy and not to God is when that First Love falters. Maybe it is getting caught up in the trappings of portraying what a Christian should be like the church at Ephesus was. Their biggest transgression was forgetting how much Christ loved everyone, including the unbelievers. When we as a church, I say that meaning the people of God, attack unbelievers by slander, action or denial of even acknowledging their existence we are showing we have let our First Love go. How can we grow in Christ when we are doing exactly the opposite of what Christ did?

How to Grow our First Love

To have your First Love is to be like Christ. One way to be like Jesus it is to serve others. He did this exceptionally well, perfectly actually. Why did he come to Earth and die? In service to us so that we may find a path to Heaven. When we lose that love we lose our desire to serve others including the lost, and even our brother and sisters in Christ. God has breathed words in to the Bible, in to our hearts and it will help us combat losing our love. We need to do everything we can for God. He has done enough for us. We grow our love by doing just that, loving others and not loving what we think the church represents.

Instead of calling people freaks or perverts or assuming they are terrorists because their faith is different (Ephesians 4:29), we should be trying to understand why they feel the way they do and reaching out to them in love as Jesus did. When we reach out in anger we condemn them in a way Christ never intended. As Christians we understand what judgment is because all will be judged. It is not the act of judgment, which is the formation of an opinion, that is a problem. It is how we express that judgment that is the problem. If we express that opinion in anger or fear then what have we done? We have taken away from how we should present ourselves as Christians. We have robbed ourselves and others of that First Love.

Final Thoughts

To nurture our first love we must nurture our faith. It is a synergy that is necessary for us to grow. Proverbs 3:5 tells us to trust in the Lord and to not lean on our own understanding of things. Our understanding is often flawed with emotions of anger, fear etc. These things are where we are following our heart and not our faith. Worship God with all of your being, Pray to Him all the time, Serve others in everything that you do, Give all that you can muster to Him and then dig deeper and give more of yourself. There is no depth to which we can go that God doesn’t get. When we think that God just won’t understand we are wrong. He is God and He knew us before we were born and will know us long after we are gone. Plan seeds of faith, goodwill and love and water them to grow. Ignore the seeds of doubt the enemy tries to sow in your field of works.

Daily Devotional – Wonderful Love

Wonderful Love

His love endures forever. – Psalm 136

There is no love like the kind that God gives to you. Even the love of a spouse or child does not match it. That does not mean that the love we get from those we walk in life with is bad, just that it is different. Spouses and children have a tendency to withhold their loving feelings while God does not. We may think that God is so strict that we can not enjoy. This turns people away from God because they think that their life will become dull and without joy. The reality is that God’s love brings joy. Not only does it bring joy it brings comfort. The love we get from God is limitless whereas the potential of another human to stop loving someone is quite likely.

Why Does He Love Me?

It’s a good question, think about it a moment. We are born in to sin because we are from Adam and for that we must die (1 Corinthians 15:22). It is not that we are paying for the sins of the first man but that we would sin in the same manner given the chance. There was only one commandment given in the garden. We could not obey even that. I face this with my kids all the time, if I say not to do something, they generally do it because they are willful and independent even at so young an age! It can be extremely frustrating to see your children blatantly disobey you but you continue to love them despite their desire to not listen. Now, put yourself in the position of the child and look at God for the great Father that He is. Do you see why he has wonderful love for us? He sacrificed the only Son that He claims as His for everyone of us. We are the adopted Children of God in fact Paul tells us this in his Epistle to the Ephesians. In Ephesians 1:1-10 we are told directly that we were chosen to be holy and blameless in Him before creation. Our adoption through Christ is the only thing that secures that after the fall. God loves us because He created us so that He could love us! How awesome is that? We create children because we want to love them and so God has done the same.

What is meant by ‘Wonderful Love’?

Wonderful means to inspire delight or pleasure in something. God takes great pleasure in welcoming His children home. He takes great delight in the joy they get from His presence. He is a perfect Father who gives without reservation. Even now I still get jealous of my time or my resources because I am not perfection. I love my children and I take great joy in coming home and being stampeded with hugs from my boy and girl. I enjoy the chance to hold my loved ones close and kiss their brow. That love is not like the love God showers on us because even when we go astray He does not stop loving us. Sometimes it can be hard to show that love to your kids when their willfulness is directly against your desires for them. That does not mean you do not love them but it does mean that it makes it harder to give it so freely, God doesn’t have that hangup. Please, be honest with yourself, I am being honest here and it is not easy to shower our children with wonderful love sometimes. I would love it if I didn’t fail there but I do and I openly admit that. I pray that I do better every day because Bethany and the children are one of the best things I have been blessed with in life.

Final Thoughts

Those that do not know God are missing out on how amazing He is. Loving God and being a slave to Jesus is not dull or boring. In fact it is the greatest delight. Men have danced in joy of the Lord since the beginning of creation. We have sang and had wine and ate and celebrated in many ways with the Lord on our tongue and the Holy Spirit in our heart. Having God’s love is not the end of your fun times. It is the beginning. God only desires us to act responsibly. We fail to do that by not drinking but getting drunk to the point where our nature becomes sinful. We eat gluttonously to the point where we become defensive over food. We dance in ways that are sexualized and those dances are not filled with God’s intention. These are the things that any earthly parent would be upset about and withhold that wonderful love because there is no delight and pleasure in seeing your children act that way. God forgives that without a second thought if we truly mean it when we ask for His grace. That is the real meaning of Wonderful Love.

Daily Devotional – Who Am I? Discover Yourself

Discover Yourself

This is what the Lord says – He who created you, Jacob, He who formed you, Israel; “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are Mine.” – Isaiah 43:1

This kind of question is right up my alley. I spend a lot of time in reflection, examining what I have done so that I can improve my future. Let me be clear on this, there is a distinct difference between reflecting for improvement versus clinging to a mistake because you spent a lot of time making it. We should see our salvation as a catalyst for doing more than just changing our status in God’s eyes. It should show us how to discover who we are as a person and in Christ.

Discovery

I think that I have learned enough about myself to give you some advice on self-discovery. I know exactly who I am. This is going to be secular advice that will lead into why it is important in a non-secular manner! Understanding who you are is going to help you communicate better in showing the love of Jesus. How you discover who you are can vary based on your actual desire to and the life you’ve lived. I have a penchant for doing everything the hard way. So finding myself was a 10 year journey into depression, overeating, lying and being someone I wasn’t just to fit in. That needed to change, I had nephews and siblings that I wanted to see grow up. My sister had married, my brother had married. I was the oldest and here I was in my mid-20’s living at home eating myself to death. I wanted to see them grow up and I wanted to be there for them, all of them.

Like many lost or wandering souls I turned to God, after I had basically pushed Him away and did what I wanted I came back. Then I came across Psalm 40:1-3 and I had been asking what can I do, what can I change, what more do I need to be better. God answered me there and gave me hope. I would’t be perfect, I know I can’t be but He told me I was enough. I was enough. My sister had a gastric bypass and so then I worked towards having one done. I began eating better before hand and had dropped almost 50 lbs before I had went to see the surgeon and jump through the hoops to get everything done. I still was doing a lot of the things I probably shouldn’t, my language was not great among other things but I was trying and while I didn’t go to church I read the bible on my phone or tablet. Eventually I had the surgery and I lost a lot of weight. I learned a lot about myself in that time because philosophy is a hobby of mine. I came to learn some of my fears, my flaws and my strengths. I was an entirely different person. Who people know me as today was not who I was 3-5 years ago.

It took a lot for me to understand who I am and honestly, I think that in tragedy we do learn the truth. Being honest with ourselves is the hardest thing you can do (Psalm 51:6) on the road to self discovery. Like lots of other step programs admitting the truest facts are the first steps needed to restoration of the former person. It is a hard road to discover yourself but you can do it. It will increase your understanding of how things were, how they are and help you see what you can do for the future.

Testimony

How you view yourself is going to affect your testimony in Christ. If you are an introverted person it may be harder for you to be a witness to God’s work because you have a natural reluctance to reigning in your actions and emotions. Think about this though, David danced in glory of the Lord and sang His praises because of something God gives to us. The Holy Spirit. The Bible instructs us to use the Spirit to reach out to others (2 Timothy 1:7) not fear them. Yes, that is easier said than done but remember, God wants us to grow and we grow by reaching outside of our comfort zone and learning new things. We should let that light increase and touch other lives so that they know the joy we have in the security of salvation.

Discover Who I Am

I am a Child of God. I’m also a father, soon to be a husband, an uncle, a brother, a son. I have many titles and I have many obligations. They all make me up a part of who I am. I’m a man who has made mistakes and I have made some pretty awesome triumphs. I have been a liar, I have been a misogynist, I have been a terrible cook. That stuff doesn’t define me in the way I see myself today. They are chapters to my life, secrets I keep between God and myself. It is also things I have let go. I don’t get it right all the time and God doesn’t expect me to.

It is interesting that this devotional came up today. I was speaking with some co-workers and one brought up what Maya Angelou had said, “You are enough.” It made me think back to my experiences and then I open my devotional tonight and here is this devotion telling me that I am a child of the Most High God. I am important and precious to Him. I have a purpose in this life and I am enough. Yes, I am enough for God, that makes me enough for myself, for those I love and those who may scorn me. Thank you Jesus, thank you for the tears and the heartaches. Thank you for the times that were rough and you let me dwell in them so that when I was ready to spread the word it would burn through me like a wildfire and maybe just maybe reach someone needing it. Someone who may be hurting.

I am enough.

They are enough.

You, God, our portion, are more than enough.

Daily Devotional – Scary Shadows

Shadows

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? – Romans 8:31

I can remember being a child sometimes and in those moments I remember some of my fears that are now just amusing and down right silly. Especially of shadows. I hated going in to the basement as a kid because I watched a lot of horror movies. Totally cool until the movie is over and you’re home alone. That fear comes from the idea that I didn’t think I was in a safe place even though I really was. It’s like that now, with God. See, I can scare myself with shadows, these what-ifs and maybes because I doubt in His plan for me sometime.

Faith in the Shadows

God is light and the devil flees from his brilliance. I think that for me, a mantra like that reminds me that no matter the problem, no matter the difficulties that lie ahead if I can keep my focus on God then he promises to see me through. He is the Father and one of the primary duties of a father is to protect his children. When I was little and afraid it was because my faith in the protection my mother and father had given me was foundering. Not because they were poor parents, in fact I have been blessed with amazing parents! It was from my lack of faith in them because I was allowing fear to supersede my knowledge of protection. I know that God is my portion and that it is fulfilling beyond measure but I am human, I fail, I doubt. He loves me anyway. It’s what a Father does. No matter how truant a youth may be his hand is there to hold and lead you and I from the darkness.

Become a Shadow-chaser

This just popped in to my head while writing but why can we not help chase the shadows away? God’s light is within us, it is given to us when we acknowledge there is no higher power than He. We can use that to help lead others from the shadows in to the light. This does not mean we are giving the lost salvation but instead guiding them to Jesus. The shadows retreat within the soul. God’s hand is what chases that away, no man can do this thing but Jesus.

Final Thoughts

All of this reminds me of a favorite song, “God’s Gonna Cut You Down”

[su_quote]Well you may throw your rock and hide your hand
Workin in the dark against your fellow man
But as sure as God made black and white
Whats done in the dark will be brought to the light[/su_quote]

It is a warning to sinners. While we are repentant as Christians it should be a warning to us that no matter what we do, seen or unseen, God knows. The shadows aren’t nearly as scary as the disappointment of the Father in his children who wander. God is forgiving, the shadows, are not.

Daily Devotion – The Only Light

The Only Light

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows – James 1:17

Part of considering who God is to you is about seeing him as a beacon. He is the only light we need in those times when we are about to walk off the path and in to the darkness of sin. Even if we choose to step off the path He is there waiting to show us the way back (Psalm 119:105). There is an eternal struggle between good and evil and since the beginning they have been light and darkness. Before God chose to create the universe there was darkness but God said light should exist and it should defeat darkness and so it has for millennia now.

His Light in You

When we are truly saved, I say that meaning that salvation comes with a change of heart and is not just lip service to the Lord, He knows the difference. When that salvation happens you are imbued with a light that is meant to carry you through the times where your mind and heart are tempted to wander. Salvation gives you the desire to be better, not just for yourself or for your family but for God because no one wants to disappoint the Father. Satan wants us to fail, he whispers that it’s okay to do something because we will be forgiven. We should remember that the light chases the dark away. It’s true we will be forgiven but the spirit God instills in you is prismatic.

His Prismatic Light

When you look at a prism you see pure light entering into a crystal and it is transformed into several colors. The prism is like a chrysalis in that what enters causes a change and that change reflects outward. The light God puts in you and me should be the same way! God wants us to show the world His light in every way. In fact Matthew 5:16 tells us exactly that. To not do so is like saying God’s word (The Bible) is not good enough for us. By using the light to affect others we display how His light not only changes us but can be used to reach everyone around us. There is a reason that people will say that they can see Jesus in them. I strive for that, I will not proclaim I am a Godly man in the sense of purity that is attached to that word but I do love God and want to show the prismatic light that He has gifted me with.

Final Thoughts

Satan wants us to distrust the light that God offers. He wants us to doubt Him and turn from Him. It’s because he hates the light. He was once in the presence of it and now he cannot be around it because of his own loss of purity. We have to trust God with all of our heart so that His light blazes inside and leaves no room for darkness. When we give our lives to Jesus we become an even more important piece in the war between God and the fallen. A doubting Christian is more dangerous than a lost soul. We represent God, we are His ambassadors in this life. Our weapon is the sword of the Spirit. That Spirit is pure light and with it we can deal terrible blows to Satan and his plans. God has given us the tools to not only survive but to win. Men, we are the General’s of God’s army here on Earth and that means we are charged with making sure our family is equipped to make those fights in God’s favor. Help your wife and children use the spirit in battle and you will become more equipped to do so yourself. It is how God works, we are built up by helping build others up. We only need one direction to follow and in turn lead those around us. He is that beacon and if we keep our gaze fixed on Him then Satan can never win.

The Importance of Devotionals and a Challenge

Importance of Devotionals

Devotional is a word Christians know well. It is a way for us to pursue God outside of church and the extra activities that most churches may provide. It is something that can be personal or shared. Doing devotionals with your spouse allows you to communicate with your spouse on a God-first basis and gives you a window in to their personal relationship with Jesus. That exercise with your significant other is something I love to do because Bethany is sharing with me and that alone is priceless. In groups you build community and still get that look in to their relationship with our Savior. So devotionals are great but how are they important outside of the obvious reasons I’ve given?

Knowledge

Our knowledge of God’s word is never going to be complete because He is fathomless (Romans 11:33) but if we use devotionals often we store up (Psalms 119:11) this knowledge and it helps us stay on the good path. We know God more by immersing ourselves in His word and devoting our time to pleasing him.

Spiritual Readiness

As Christians we are charged with the golden rule (Matthew 7:12) which is so much easier said than done. This rule is often called the rule of reciprocity and is something you can find in cultures and religions the world over. It is part of the greatest commandment Christ gave us because it is what God was telling us to do before the new covenant (Deuteronomy 6:4-5) & (Leviticus 19:18) but we have a terrible way of not listening to God, don’t we? Daily devotionals help us listen to him and help prepare our spirit to act upon these commandments. The man on the street who is a drunkard. That one buddy who is struggling with thoughts of infidelity be they in pornography or from a woman at work.  Devotionals help prepare you to share your testimony with them to help them!

Spiritual Warfare

It could go without saying but even if we prepare our spirit for the helping of others it does little good if we cannot defend ourselves. How can you protect the family you love if you first cannot protect yourself? We need to be spiritual warriors to defend the family we are commanded to protect. We are told (Ephesians 6:12) quite directly that we are at war and within the same breath we are given the tools (Ephesians 6:13-18) and directions on how to defend ourselves. We can apply this defense to our families but raising them with the same weapons to defend themselves. We can arm brethren and strangers alike but to do so we need to keep those weapons and senses sharp, devotionals help us do that.

Devotionals Challenge

It’s pretty clear that devotionals have benefits that we may not consider normally unless we really look at their purpose. That is why I have a challenge. This challenge is for me because I’m going to do this publicly and if I fail I want anyone who reads this to hold me accountable.

I want to do a public daily devotional.

Every day from today, Easter Sunday until Easter Sunday in 2017 I will post the devotional and my thoughts on it, how it affects me, the things I learn. I want to invite you in to my heart and in to my journey with Jesus.

Will you come along and uplift me when the times turn tough or celebrate with me the times of joy? I hope so.

My Salvation Is Secondary

Salvation is secondary

Man, that’s deep already.

I’m not going to apologize if that headline offends you. It should. It should also get your attention to the very serious nature of what I want to talk about. It’s been on my heart like an 800-pound Gorilla named Sparky. While talking with a friend we discussed a man’s primary duty as the leader of his home. After we talked I just had this consistent push in my mind telling me that my salvation was secondary but why?

Be the Shepherd

We are charged with leading our homes all over the bible and we struggle with that because we are human. The reason why I say our (as men) salvation is secondary is because we should be concerned with those in our household and where they are in Christ. It is said in Proverbs 22:6 that the way we raise children will determine their behavior in life. This is common sense stuff and does not have to be non-secular. In fact the NYU School of Medicine has a great site about child psychology and years of research behind it. You are the shepherd of the flock that God blesses you with on earth. Shepherds do not let their flock wander from them.

Bear Fruit

I talked about the farmer when I talked about nourishment and it’s consistency but I guess I did not get it across clearly enough because God has put it on my heart to write about it once again. In Deuteronomy 28:1-6 we are promised many a great blessings if we honor God’s commandments but in the same chapter (Deuteronomy 28:47-48) we are warned what happens if we fail. The work you do or the lack thereof is directly proportionate to how much God will bless you. He rewards the believer with salvation. He rewards those who understand they were chosen (John15:16) to bear witness for him

It’s Christ Like

Consider this simple thought that we all know to be truth. God is our father and he gave use Jesus so that we may be redeemed through his death and resurrection. Apply it to what is on my heart friends, God, with no requirement to, gave us his most precious thing. His Son. We are charged too with his most precious of things, his children (our children). Jesus gave his life for our salvation. Why can we not, set our desire to be fed aside and put our work in to how our children are raised? Our futures are secure, theirs are not. We, once saved, make a commitment to become like Him (Ephesians 4:23-24). I want to clarify something when I say put our desire to be fed aside in that we make sacrifices to ensure they are fed first. As grown adults we have the ability to self-feed by chasing God. If our eyes, our goals and our hearts are on him then the rest follows through like water in a channel. Pour ourselves in to Godly work and we are fed naturally. Our children do not have that knowledge or ability yet and even as they grow and become adults we still steward them as much as we can.

If we want to be like Him (1 John 2:5-6) then we should put our salvation to the side when we are secure in it. Not only to help our children but to help others as well. Whether you are making that choice for your children, a homeless man on the street or a lost sibling when we understand that true strength comes from our humility and willingness to sensibly sacrifice things and comforts for the encouragement and service to others we will grow. They will grow. Our salvation is secondary in this world when we take on the cross and bear it for others. God will put that salvation first in the end of our days and we will be greatly rewarded.

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