#10 The Long Road

blog 10

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

– Romans 12:2 (NASB)

Like a book, film, or play, journeys have a beginning and end, but often neither is as important as the middle – the road itself. This in-between, the meat of the tale, could be long and arduous.

Upon introspection, we might find ourselves lacking as we travel the road, perceiving our many faults, and we may feel discouraged.

But remember that we all are in the midst of our travels; we’re in the middle of our story. There is a long ways to go, and step by step, we move forward and grow. Setbacks will come, but by keeping our eyes on the truth, we’ll become more and more like that which we hope to be – partially through this long road, and fully, one day, at its end.

Pray | Ask that you’ll be encouraged to grow even when the road seems long

Read | Meditate on these verses this week: 1 John 1:7-9 / 1 Cor 13:11-12 / Psalms 51:10 / Romans 12:1-2 / Ephesians 4:20-24

Act | Purposely and prayerfully put aside a way you once acted and put on the new way of Christ

#9 Wandering

blog 9

For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.

– Hebrews 13:14 (ESV)

Have you ever had that stirring in your soul, that need to experience something, to move beyond and journey toward the unknown, to start an adventure? Perhaps it’s ingrained in the human spirit for us all to be wanderers.

And at the center of such sojourning spirit is a question: what are we looking for?

No matter where we go, whether it’s as a child exploring the cavernous trenches of a backyard swing set or a cosmonaut riding a rocket rushing toward the stars, we all seek meaning, purpose. The void tells us that there really is no meaning, nothing beyond what we can sense. But truth tells us otherwise – there’s much more than all we can ask or imagine.

Pray | Ask that our hearts are set on what is meaningful and true

Read | Meditate on these verses this week: Psalm 16:9-11 / Psalm 143:5-6 / Rev 4:11 / Psalm 73:26  / Matt 5:13-16

Act | Make a change in your life that bends it away from self and toward something more significant

#8 Solo Journey Together

blog 8

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: if either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.

– Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Have you ever undertaken an arduous trek? Perhaps it was a difficult hike, a challenging run, or long walk in the city. Did you go it alone?

Oftentimes, our journeys are made solo – but that doesn’t mean we take them alone. We carry items with us that can make these mini-adventures more bearable – fun, even. Our mobile devices, comfortable shoes, a utility tool – these are the weapons of our trade that help us make it through.

A life in the spirit is very much the same. What (or rather who) we take with us on our way can help mightily – a church body for support; strong leadership for accountability; loving friends for encouragement. A life in the spirit may be our own – but it was never meant to be lived alone.

Pray | Ask about your friendships and ask for spiritual accountability

Read | Meditate on these verses this week: Heb 10:24-25 / 1 Cor 12:21-26 / Gal 6:1-5 / Heb 13:17 / 1 Thess 5:9-11

Act | Build further accountability in your walk with Christ for yourself and/or others (ex. consider finding an accountability partner)

Journeys

The concept of a journey speaks to us all.  It crosses cultural, ethnic, national, and all other kinds of boundaries.  Even children understand the idea that a journey is more than a trip from point A to point B. There’s meaning in the destination – but there’s also meaning in the journey itself.

In Christianity, the phrase “walking with God” if often used, and even there we see movement, the steps taking one on a sojourn with the Creator. Along and in between, we go off on many tangents, but perhaps taken as a whole, we can see a map detailing our momentous adventure with God.

Join us in the coming weeks as we move one from our last theme, love, and explore our new one, journeys.

#5 Break Up

blog 5

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

– Romans 5:8

Break-ups can be devastating. They take time and support to get through, and in all honesty, there are some relationships we never get over.

And as with grieving, we might pass through emotional stages after a split, including guilt.  Why did she dump me?  What did I do?  What’s wrong with me?

Those feelings speak to something dreadfully honest within us – that we feel something is wrong.  Our exes, who knew us as well as anyone, saw into our very hearts, and they ran away.

There’s someone else, too, that sees our hearts – that knows them better than any boyfriend, better than we even know our own hearts.  He sees all of our faults, insecurities, and selfishness, and still speaks this to us: “I’m never leaving you.”

This the one to whom we can always turn – who will never leave or “break up” with us. There’s no better lover.

Pray | Ask God to reveal his forgiving and loving character to you

Read | Meditate on these verses this week: Jeremiah 17:9 / Romans 5:6-8 / Jeremiah 7:21-26 / Romans 5:20-21 / Ephesians 2:8-9

Act | Purposely reach out to someone who may have hurt you, understanding that you, too, own many faults

#3 Free from Fear

blog 3

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

– 1 John 4:18

Fire and brimstone – scorching language used as fear mongering tools for so long by preachers to instill fear into people’s hearts, driving them toward a religion twisted by guilt. Today, we’ve mostly left the hotbed of angry, condemning religion, but for many fear and guilt remain, whether as whispers of smoke in our souls, burned there from a dispirited youth in the church, or soldered into our hearts through experiences that have left us burned.

But what if true religion isn’t about shame and fright? What if it speaks something quite the opposite to us – that we are free from all that which weighs us down?

The world can be frightening. Depression, loneliness, judgment, violence – all these can invade our lives and make the very act of living difficult, impossible even. But in this, there is always hope, in the arms of one who has been there and suffered it all for our sake, and in whose perfect love there is no fear.

Pray | Come to God about those things that haunt you – the specters of abuse, neglect or anything else – and ask him to help you depend on his love in overcoming the pain

Read | Meditate on these verses this week: 1 John 1:5 / 2 Corinthians 3:12-18 / Psalms 23:4 / Deuteronomy 31:6 / Isaiah 41:10

Act | Accept your flaws and imperfections, making a step toward accepting forgiveness and mercy from a loving God

#2 Returning Love

blog 2

You took the broken pieces, and made them whole.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God

– Ephesians 2:8

Romantic relationships sometimes feel like purchasing a product.  If the item is broken, or not as advertised, or fails to live up to our expectations in any way, we return it and get our money back.  When a problem occurs during dating, we might consider “returning” our mate and starting again.  The more difficult the issue or the more issues there are, the more likely we are to call it quits and say, “this transaction just didn’t work out.”

Unfortunately, this idea extends beyond dating.  Cohabitation, marriage, friendship, and even family can break down when people disappoint, hurt, and otherwise fail to meet expectations.  And what happens when we’re treated like a purchase?  When we’re dumped, passed over for a promotion, or ignored by friends, as if we don’t matter?  It’s painful to be on the receiving end because it makes us feel like a defective product.  Who could love me?

Real love is not a transaction.  It’s not “I’ll give you this if you give me that.”  Instead, it’s about loving a person for who they are, no matter the circumstances and at great personal expense.  Scripture tells us that this is how God approaches His relationship with us.  Even though we failed Him, over and over again, He loves us to the utmost expense, to the point where He came to die in our place.  God bought us, defects and all, but decided this: He’ll keep and treasure us forever.

Pray | Tell God about the broken relationships in your life and thank him for his enduring love for you
Read | Read and meditate on these verses this week: Zephaniah 3:14-17 / Psalms 86:15 / Romans 8:37-39 / Luke 12:6-7 / Ephesians 2:4-10
Act | Take a step toward healing a broken relationship this week through a message, phone call, or something more