Easter, God’s Invitation To Hope Again In Life’s Hard Places

As we look toward Easter and the hope of the resurrection, it’s hard not to think about the things in our lives that need transformation, isn’t it?

Strained relationships with family and friends.  Flabby, aging bodies.  Exams and assignments that don’t seem very relevant to the careers they’re supposedly preparing us for.  Your annoying next-door-neighbor or roommate.  Unjust deeds that go unnoticed or unpunished.  And… yeah.

Is there any place in our lives that doesn’t need the hope that Christ brings?

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Seeing God For Who He Really Is

The day wasn’t going well.

We had just learned that my autistic son Matthew’s therapy costs were going to be about a third of my salary.  And, that the insurance company wasn’t going to cover a dime.

As the day wore on, I found myself getting angrier and angrier at God.  ‘God he needs this therapy to make progress, but there’s absolutely NO WAY we can cover it. Wasn’t it enough that you gave us a son with autism?  What are you going to do about it?!’

I wasn’t really asking.  I had been deeply shaken by Matthew’s diagnosis, and this latest bad news seemed to further confirm God’s lack of concern and ability to help.

Can you relate to my microscopic faith and small view of God?  Do you ever feel like you ‘know’ the right answers but wonder if they really mean anything in your real, everyday life?

After 25 years of being in Christ, I’m convinced that our biggest problem is that we really don’t think much of God.  We believe a lot of true things about him, but in practice our confidence in him is pretty low.

I don’t want to live like that, and I know you guys don’t, either.  How can we develop a massive view of God that matches who he really is?

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Four Big Lessons For Your Thirties

30 was so strange for me. I really had to come to terms with the fact that I’m now a walking, talking adult.

— CS Lewis

If CS Lewis said it, it must be true, right?  Thirty – and the decade that follows – is a wonderful, ‘strange’ decade where we come of age.  Some time ago, I did a post on 7 lessons for our twenties, and here this occasional series continues with some lessons for our thirties.

30 Años eljoja via Compfight

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7 Ways To Defuse Your Next Stress Bomb

I had to take a moment.  An awkward, silent, ten-second one.

‘Sir, are you still there?  Mr Stoudt…?’

By this point in my call with tech support – two hours in – I was completely frazzled.  The tech’s instructions ran together like the teacher’s words from Charlie Brown.  I vowed to donate my brain to science immediately after hanging up the phone, then vaguely decided there wouldn’t be anything left.

I bet you can identify with stress like this.  In a broken, fallen world, it’s all around us.  Every day.  We panic, we get angry, we lose perspective.  Even if we’ve learned to hide it well beneath a veneer of ‘I’m good’ and smiles.

Deep down, we long to be more at peace, more at rest.  But how?

boom Esther Simpson via Compfight

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Why You Need A Prophet In Your Life

I was sitting comfortably on our living room couch, taking a rare break from the grad school grind, when my roommate burst out of his room.

Before I could say ‘Mephibosheth’, he was close.  Uncomfortably close, and I could feel my blood pressure rise as he began to speak.

‘I don’t know what you guys were up to in there, but you shouldn’t have closed the door.’

‘You guys’ referred to my fiancee (now wife) and I, and we had been in my room together with the door shut.  We had become closer physically than we should have, and my roommate’s simple rebuke was the cold shower I needed to snap me back to reality.

I didn’t like it in the moment, and I suspect most of you don’t like being challenged, either.  But the truth is that we all need a prophet in our lives.

Retro ad: man receives a cold shower, showing what it feels like to be rebuked by a prophet.

What it feels like to be rebuked by a prophet. Photo credit: x-ray delta one via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

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Great Expectations: How Our Hidden Assumptions Can Help Or Hurt Our Plans For The Coming Year

‘Anyone making New Year’s Resolutions this year?’

It was a fun – and good – question as we sat talking over lunch.  As the conversation bounced around, hopes and ambitions for the year were shared.  Getting healthier, running a marathon, and so on.

I didn’t share my thoughts, largely because I’m still in the process of setting my goals for the year. But also because my thinking on how I go about that is still evolving.  Maybe yours is, too.

More specifically, I’ve really struggled with knowing what to prioritize given limits with time.  And then, to actually make progress on my goals in the middle of my messy, everyday life.  Ah, the gap between who we are and who we’d like to be.

Managing Expectations Lynn Friedman via Compfight

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6 Remedies For An Apathetic Prayer Life From The Psalms

Anyone out there feeling apathetic, unmotivated and bored when it comes to prayer?

(I just raised my hand.)  Prayer is probably one of the hardest things in my entire life. It’s honestly a constant battle for me.

Recently, my wife and I had a group of students over and we all acknowledged our struggles with prayer.  And why we don’t do it more often, with more passion.

‘We don’t pray because we don’t want to be disappointed.’

‘It feels like it doesn’t work.’

‘Other things like school and work get in the way.’

Sound familiar?

 

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Learning To Pray Like Jesus: 2 Simple, Advent Tests

Ever heard a sermon that sounded great, but left you wondering how to actually live it out?  I know I’ve heard – and preached – more than my fair share of them.

Wouldn’t it be nice to know whether – or not – you’re really getting it so you can see where you still need to grow?  And, so you could celebrate progress God has granted. What if there were some simple tests that could help you see where you really are?

In my last post (‘During Advent, Jesus Shows Us How To Wait & Ask‘), Jesus showed us how to ask God for what we want while we wait for it.  Which is waaay harder than it sounds.  Because usually we treat God like Santa Claus or a vending machine.  I make my request, or put my money in, and get what I want right away.

But even after we think we understand how to ask God the right way, it’s hard to know if we’re actually making progress.  And because asking God for what’s on my heart is such a huge part of my everyday life, I’d really like to do it better and better.

So, in this post, I offer two simple ways to know if you’re learning to ask God for what you want in a more mature way.

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Photo credit: The U.S. Army via Foter.com / CC BY

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During Advent, Jesus Shows Us How To Wait & Ask

All of a sudden, Advent (Latin ‘coming’ or ‘arriving’) is here.  And although we celebrate Christ’s coming, we also remember that we are waiting.

Kids wait for gifts on Christmas morning.  Big kids (like us) wait for time off at the end of the year.  And all of us wait for Jesus to return and make everything wrong right again.

What Do You Really Want?

Let me ask you something.  What are you waiting for today?  Don’t think about it too much.  What are a few things you want?

Maybe it’s a better marriage.  For your kids to come back to the Lord.  To just get through the next exam.  Better health.  A nicer car or house.  To find a boyfriend or girlfriend.  To get a career or job you really love.  To get closer to God.

What are you really really longing for?

blue Christmas candle Advent wreath

Photo credit: Foter.com / CC0

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Kickstarter For Your Soul (Day 5): God Speaks Through Christian Community

Today marks the final post in our 5-day mini-series, A Kickstarter For Your Soul.  Each day, we’re looking at a short scripture, quote from a Christian leader on some aspect of keeping God first in our Christian lives, then closing with a challenge.

On our last day, we look at the connection between Christian community and knowing God better.

Petit Tuz 小兔子Creative Commons License Sai Mr. via Compfight

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