Wednesday, November 16, 2011

What New Thing I Learned Last Week

This last Sunday we had our annual Youth Sunday. Usually Youth Sunday is held when I am away, but this year I got to be there. I had a wonderful time watching our youth do the prayers, read the scripture, do the children's sermon, and even help with the main sermon. I was moved by the maturity and seriousness the kids displayed, but also by their enjoyment of the experience.

The scripture passage for the morning came from Matthew 18:1-5, with the main verse being Matthew 18:3, "And he said: 'Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.'" The title of the sermon was "Faith Like A Child."

The sermon started with one of our high school boys giving his testimony of how he came to our church and has grown in his faith while attending. I was excited to hear his story and watch as he spoke with great enthusiasm and style. The sermon was finished up by our high school director, who went on to talk about how the youth encourage and teach her even in the midst of her teaching them.

However, what really spoke to me was the word 'change.' I have read this passage many, many times, but this time I was caught by the word ‘change’, as Jesus said, 'unless you change and become like little children.' Our high school director pointed out that in our younger days we are trusting of what we are told, but as we get older we begin to question and doubt. So, for us to have faith like a child, we have to change our thinking from our questioning mold of adulthood to the trusting mindset of a child.

I realized that the only way I can change is to let God change me. I cannot change myself because I have grown too far past trusting like a child. I have been lied to and deceived too many times by people to trust like a child. This can even at times affect my ability to trust God. I know that I can trust God, but there is a part of me that doubts.

Can you relate to this? Do you have trouble trusting others? Does this carry over into your relationship with God? Does it affect your faith in God? We must allow God to help us to believe in Him as a child does. We need to pray to God to give us the ability, the faith to trust in His word and His way; His will and His power. Only then can we truly experience God and see the Kingdom of Heaven. What have you learned lately? I'd be interested to know. Blessings.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Does God Give Us More Than We Can Handle?

I think most people would agree that life is not easy. Life can be very challenging with school, work, marriage, children, as well as the every day problems that come along. Sometimes we can be overwhelmed by life. Which leads us to ask the question, ‘Does God give us more than we can handle?

There is a verse in 1 Corinthians 10:13 which says: “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” I believe that just as God doesn’t give us more than we can bear in regards to the temptations of life, so He doesn’t give us more than we can bear in the events of our lives.

There are indeed problems in life, some that are great, but God doesn’t give these problems to us. Instead, God promises to be with us in the midst of them. As Isaiah 43:2 tells us, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” God is ever with us and will watch over us. God will help us in our struggles and will give us strength.

The problem really lays with us, not God. Too often we don’t look to God for help, and so we will struggle along in our own limited power. Without God’s help our problems, challenges, and struggles overwhelm us. Another issue is that we allow our lifestyle to become more than we can handle. We allow our kids to be in choir, and baseball, and Girl Scouts, and the next thing we know we are running in too many different directions. Soon we find that we are facing burn out blaming God for all that has come down on us.

The answer for us is to be wise in the choices we make. The first choice needs to be to seek out God daily. Seek out God through prayer, Bible Study, and fellowship. The second choice needs to be limiting how much we plan in our lives. Don’t do too much, and if you start to feel stretched, cut back. Third, if and when you feel your life is too much to handle, go to God for help and allow Him to give you extra wisdom and strength. Trust in Him to not let the waters sweep over you.

Don’t let your life be too much too handle. There is a way out and God can help you find it. Blessings.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Deepening Relationships

The truth is that we have been created to be in relationships with others. All people not only desire to be in a deep relationship with another person, but it is a part of their make-up to have deep relationships. In this blog I would like to explore how we can deepen our relationships.

First, for a relationship to go deeper there needs to be honesty. You need to be able to share with the other person your thoughts, and feelings, and desires, and dreams. You need to be able to talk about important topics and not hold back. You need to allow yourself to tell this other person what you experienced, both past and present. You need to develop an environment where both of you can talk openly.

Second, communication is important in a relationship. In my counseling of couples, I see this as one of the weakest points of people’s relationships. People have trouble communicating with others. There have been many times when I have told one spouse something, and then I will see the other spouse a week later, only to learn that the wife never communicated the information to the husband; or visa versa. People don’t talk that much anymore, and if they do talk, there is not much depth to their conversation. We have to learn good communication skills, and have a willingness to communicate, if we hope to develop deeper relationships.

Third is what I call the triangle of relationships. How this works is that God is at the top of the triangle, one person in the relationship is on one side of the triangle, and the other person is on the other side. As a person grows in their relationship with God, they move up the triangle toward the top (where the triangle gets more narrow). If both people are growing in their relationship with God together, then they will inevitably be growing closer to each other as well. The stronger they are in their faith, the deeper their relationship with each other will be able to grow.

I pray that we will all seek to deepen our relationships with those whom we desire to grow closer to. May God bless you in your relationships!