Special Graces in Common Places


Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there (Matthew 19:13-15 (NIV).

Jesus here was not in the synagogue or any formal place of worship. He was out and about with His disciples. The disciples were fine with the Pharisees coming and debating divorce with Jesus in verses 1-12. But they drew the line at parents bringing little children for Jesus to bless and pray for. Youth ministry maybe, but Children’s ministry? That was a waste of Jesus’ time! After all the real stuff is adult ministry right!

I know what they were feeling. I often call my three girls monkeys. They can be loud, wild, unpredictable, and sometimes (let me be honest) they can act like wild animals! It seems like our house has not been clean and in order for more than a day or two in a row in the last 15 years! They can be loud, weird, messy, and downright distracting. I’m not alone in that right? This isn’t just me is it?

Don’t you parents love the idea of a nursery and children’s church going on during the service, so you can relax and worship and listen to the message without having to constantly answer questions, take your kids to the bathroom, listen to them ask when the service is going to be over, or bending over to pick up all the crayons that just spilled all over the floor?

Not only did Jesus think it was a good use of His time, He also used them to teach how His disciples needed to view the kingdom of God. It wasn’t about needing to be all grown up, or being all together, or even understanding it all. It was all about grace. Jesus graciously reaches out to us even when we cannot reach out to Him. As those children were dependent on their parents for everything they needed, we need to be learning that we are no less dependent on Jesus for everything we need. When we start picking and choosing who is worth sharing the Father’s love with we are missing the point. Jesus not only rebukes His disciples for thinking that way but adds, do not hinder them.

When you look through the Gospels for how Jesus taught His disciples, you see that common and every day experiences like this were often what served as the springboards for His lessons. Scripture was His textbook, and life was His classroom. Over and over again we see that Jesus took advantage of “everyday life” to teach His disciples.

When Jesus’ disciples saw Him talking with a Samaritan woman in John 4:27-38, that led to lessons on missions.

In Mark 10:35-45, when a fight broke out among the disciples because James and John wanted to have the highest places of honor in Jesus’ kingdom, Jesus turned that quarrel into an object lesson about leadership.

When the disciples called attention to the beauty of the Temple buildings in Matthew 24, Jesus used that as an opportunity to teach them about the end times.

When Jesus passed through a vineyard on the way to Gethsemane, He used the grapevines as an illustration of how we are connected to Him and how we bear His fruit (John 15:1-17).

It is my contention that Jesus has not changed His methods, and that through the Holy Spirit, He is doing the same for us; giving us special graces in common places, lessons that He wants us learning to help us work out the grace that He is constantly working into us (Philippians 2:12-13).

I have been learning God knows no distinction between the so-called “sacred” and “secular” parts of your life. It is all one sacred life to Him. Therefore, it is crucial to understand that His Spirit is no less active with you and on your behalf when you are resting at home, working at the office, or playing with your kids than when you are at church, or praying, or reading your Bible. As Jesus discipled His first disciples throughout their everyday life and experiences, He does the same thing with us.

As Jesus is constantly discipling us through our everyday life so that we can be learning to love Him and love others better (Matthew 22:36-40), we need to be learning how to be listening to Him so that we can join Him in helping others do the same (Matthew 28:19-20). These special graces that the Spirit gives are not only lessons for you, they are for you to share as you disciple others.

Learning to listen for God’s voice, to see His special graces in the common places of everyday life, means learning to tune your ears to the Spirit’s voice.

The indispensable starting point for doing that is reading and studying Scripture. The Spirit’s voice is heard in every word of every page of all sixty-six books of the Bible.

The things you will be learning in the everyday will not add to Scripture, which is God’s revealed and inerrant revelation of Himself to the whole Church in all times and in all places.

Rather they are to help you discern that the God who has revealed Himself in Scripture is constantly at work in your life, and speaking into your life—in both the big things and the small things—and to show you how the truths we have in Scripture are lived out, played out, and affirmed in every area of life.

Lessons from the ER


Sunday night I found myself at the hospital with Anna again. Her feelings of depression, anxiety, and anger have been uncontrollable. She was at the point where she did not trust herself to not hurt herself again and wanted to go to the hospital. I went with her. I was there with her until Monday evening. It took that long to find an open placement for her. But against the odds she got one.

What a way to spend Memorial day weekend right? But I learned a lot over that 21 hour wait:
Again I learned what a privilege it is to be with Anna and to advocate for her and stand with her when she is weak.
I learned that I can still do all-fighters and/or function on very little sleep.
I learned that being there with Anna meant everything to her.
I learned that when I am punch-drunk tired, I can be very funny.
I learned that you can be both amazingly strong and beautiful and extremely fragile and broken at the same time.
I learned that the prayers of friends and family are effective and necessary to keep me going.
I learned that Anna loves to play with hospital bed controls… especially if they are yours and not hers.
I learned that I do love being her dad. =)
And I learned that right now I can’t be in formal pastoral ministry. Family needs me too much. I can’t give the kind of time and energy to Anna and the rest of my family and also look after a congregation. I need to focus on them right now, and for the foreseeable future. So I have decided to switch gears and stay at Two Guys Smoke Shop and not consider fulltime ministry positions at this time. I will still take advantage of speaking and preaching opportunities, and I will still write and post on my blog here.

Ironically, twenty years ago today, I graduated from Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando. I was set to go from there into a lifetime of pastoral ministry. Now it looks like I may never go back. When I decided to go to seminary, I went with the attitude that there was no downside to it. At best, I would have the necessary academic credentials to pursue my calling into pastoral ministry. At worst (if you an say worst) I would be well educated in my faith and that would set me up to excel in my own faith and in practice as a husband, father, and worker in Christ’s kingdom.

You see, there is no not being a worker in His kingdom. I don’t see myself as having been demoted or benched. In some ways I feel promoted! We sometimes are guilty of thinking that pastors and missionaries are the ultimate Christians. That, my friends, is not at all the case. In truth the most influential Christian leader, mentor, and spiritual father I have ever met was an insurance salesman! That man loved Jesus better than anyone I know… and that includes all the pastors I know. Never confuse a degree or a title or a position as necessary things to possess in order to do “real” work in the Father’s kingdom. Most kingdom work happens in the everyday, common, and normal places of life where none of those things really come into play… like spending 21 hours in an ER with your anxious and hurting daughter.

 

A good drive


Anna is coming home today. She is doing much better it seems. It seems her depression has passed again. I am very excited about that. We were able to bring her home for a visit yesterday. She did very well. It was so good having her home for awhile. After dinner, I driver her back to the C-BAT she’s been at for the last week and a half. She told me how she wished she could just stay home.

“Well,” I said, “I wish you were too. But at least this means I get to have a half hour alone with you in the car. I really like that.”

She smiled real big and leaned over and hugged my arm. “I love that too. I love you daddy!”

That was a big silver lining in the dark cloud of needing to take her back for one more night. We both benefited from seeing it. We can’t always change our circumstances, but we can change what we focus on when we are in them. I believe that is a valid application of Philippians 4:8-10 (NIV),

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

 

Being Children of the Light


If you read my post, “Soul Cutting” from yesterday, then you would probably understand that today has been very busy and (to be truthful) draining and difficult. I have no real ability to think deep thoughts. The good news is that as an author I have a repository of written material. This particular piece is very apropos to my current situation, and addresses the interest of a number of readers for more of my thoughts on the nature and work of discipleship.

***

In my years as a bible teacher in Christian schools and as a youth pastor I can tell you that my experience was that as many as half the kids I worked with were from broken homes. It has been my experience that abuse and neglect are more common than any of us would like to think. I know of a high school dance that was cancelled less than an hour after it started because too many freshmen showed up drunk. I have had to counsel families whose children died from drug use.

The summer before I started here I was the speaker at a Christian youth camp that was attended by more than a hundred 10-12th graders. About 75% of them knew a friend who had committed suicide.

In light of this reality, I suspect that more than a few of you over the last month have been thinking, “What you are saying does not apply to me. My family is hurting, broken, struggling just to tread water.” I suspect many of you have been asking questions like “How can I live out a life of love when my family is hurting and broken?” “How do I love or respect my spouse when My marriage is on the rocks?” and “How do I honor and obey my parents when my parents aren’t believers?”

The reason I did not touch on those questions before is because I felt they deserved more than a passing point. They deserve more than that.

The question for today is: How do we live a life of love when we live in a place where there is so much darkness, brokenness, and pain? To answer that we are going to look at Ephesians 5:1-21 (NIV).

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person–such a man is an idolater–has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said:

“Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Whenever you see a “therefore,” like there is at the beginning of our text, it is important to look at what was talked about before. In Chapter 4, Paul urged the Ephesians to show their unity in Christ and to strive for maturity by living lives worthy of the calling they had received. To do so necessitated that they be completely humble and gentle; being patient, bearing with one another in love. [Making] every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace, (Ephesians 4:2-3, NIV).

Paul argued that there should be a clear difference between Christians and non-believers. He says in 4:17-19 (NIV), So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.

This was what Paul is referring back to in the opening verse of our text. Instead of being imitators of gentiles—who did not know Christ and lived by the sinful nature—they were to be imitators of Christ. If they lived like gentiles while claiming to be Christians they would be guilty of committing idolatry—worshipping sex or money instead of Christ.

If Christ truly lives in you, that is not who you are any more. As Paul says in Ephesians 5:8 (NIV) For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. When we give in to the temptations of sin, we are no longer being true to who we are—children of the light.

So Paul says, Live as children of the light. In verses 9-13 Paul tells the Ephesians what that looks like, how they would recognize it:

  1. They will recognize it by its fruit: goodness, righteousness and truth.
  2. It is recognized by intentionally asking what the Lord’s will is in any given situation.
  3. By having nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.

Verses 15-16 explain why this is important: because the days are evil. Because the days were evil the Ephesians needed to make every effort to wisely take advantage of every opportunity.

Verses 17-21 Paul directs them how to go about living wisely.

  1. Understand what the Lord’s will is.
  2. Don’t react by doing things that will pull you away from the Lord, like turning to drinking, but respond by being filled with the Holy Spirit.
  3. Speak in psalms and sing hymns and spiritual songs.
  4. Be thankful.
  5. And fifth, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

When we find ourselves living in dark places, we need to remember that Christ has called us to be a light in the dark. We are to be lights of God’s grace. So the answer to questions like “How can I live out a life of love when my family is hurting and broken?” “How do I love or respect my spouse when My marriage is on the rocks?” and “How do I honor and obey my parents when my parents aren’t believers?” is: be imitators of God as dearly loved children and live as children of the light. What I want to do this morning is ask three questions:

  1. What does it mean to be children of the light?
  2. What effect does it have?
  3. How do we nurture that light when our family is not able to?

What does it mean to be children of the light? It means that we are God’s children. Jesus said in John 8:12 (NLT) I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life. Jesus was the light of the world because He was God’s Son.

When God adopts you as a son or daughter, you too like Jesus become a child of the light. Jesus Himself said in Matthew 5:14 (NLT) You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. Peter reaffirms this in 1 Peter 2:9 (NIV) saying, you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

To get a full understanding of what it means to be children of the light it is helpful to see how “light” is used throughout Scripture.

God is often compared to light in the Bible. Psalm 27:1 (NIV) The LORD is my light and my salvation– whom shall I fear? Psalm 76:4 (NIV) You are resplendent with light, more majestic than mountains rich with game. Psalm 89:15 (NIV) Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O LORD. Matthew 17:2 (NIV) There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. 1 John 1:5 (NIV) This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.

Light is also a sign of God’s presence as in Exodus 13:21 (NIV), By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. This was also the meaning for the lamp in the tabernacle and the Temple that was lit day and night every day of the year (Leviticus 24:2).

Light is also given as a sign of His blessing as Exodus 10:23 (NIV), No one could see anyone else or leave his place for three days. Yet all the Israelites had light in the places where they lived.

Light is compared to truth and wisdom. Psalm 43:3 (NIV) says, Send forth your light and your truth, let them guide me; let them bring me to your holy mountain, to the place where you dwell. Psalm 119:105 (NIV) Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

Light is synonymous with righteousness. Proverbs 13:9 (NIV) says, The light of the righteous shines brightly, but the lamp of the wicked is snuffed out.

Light is also likened to salvation. 2 Corinthians 4:6 (NIV) For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

So what does it mean to be children of the light? It means that we are proof of God’s presence and blessing because our lives are marked by His wisdom, righteousness and grace.

What effect does being children of the light have on those around us?

  1. It identifies us as God’s children. Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV) You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. John 3:21 (NIV) But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.
  2. It helps people see that they need that light. Ephesians 5:13-14 (NIV) But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
  3. It motivates us to love one another. 1 John 2:9-11 (NIV) Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.

Living as children of the light identifies us as belonging to God and living in His power. When we are living as children of the light, God uses our life to wake people up to their need of a savior. And when we live as children of the light we share God’s love with the people around us.

Sometimes, for reasons we don’t understand, or for seasons that we think go on way too long, God puts His children in dark places. It isn’t because we did something wrong, or because we are on God’s bad list. It’s because God wants us to be His light in that dark place. He wants us to incarnate His grace where there is none.

That brings us to the third question: How do we nurture that light when our family is not able to?

This reality highlights the wisdom of God in giving us a spiritual family. Specifically it highlights the importance of having spiritual mothers and fathers. When home is not a place where we can be nurtured and grown and taught and encouraged as God’s sons and daughters, we need to be living in relationship as sons and daughters to godly men and women who can provide the spiritual parenting we need.

This is the kind of relationship Mandi and I have with Shelby. Now Shelby would be the first to tell you that we have not replaced her parents. She still loves her mom and dad very much. And, so do Mandi and I. But Shelby looks at us as her spiritual parents. She looks to us for spiritual guidance, how to understand Scripture, how to live it out at school, at work, in her relationships. Shelby is not in a unique situation. All of us need spiritual moms and dads. In the best of all possible worlds our natural parents and our spiritual parents would be one and the same. But we all need to be in relationships as sons and daughters to people who we can call spiritual parents.

We need to focus on our light, not the darkness in others. Does that seem counter-intuitive to you? Yet if you look back at our text and even at 4:17-32 where Paul is also talking about how we are to nurture our light, this is clearly the case. In the 36 verses between 4:17 and 5:21 there are 22 directions that are aimed at “you,” the believer.

You control your anger,

stop stealing,

stop using foul language,

encourage others with your talk,

do not grieve the Holy Spirit by how you live,

forgive as God forgave you,

imitate God,

live a life of love,

be sexually pure,

don’t be immoral,

don’t be greedy,

live as children of the light,

be careful how you live,

be wise,

take advantage of every opportunity,

understand what the Lord’s will is,

don’t get drunk,

be filled with the Spirit,

speak Scripture,

sing songs,

be thankful,

and submit to one another out of reverence to Christ.

If we are honest with ourselves, if we were to give ourselves to doing these 22 things, we would have precious little time to concern ourselves with “fixing” other people. I have a feeling that was God’s intention! And that leads right to my last point,

Through our grace God will bring to light what is not good in others. There is in our text one verse that talks about dealing with sin in others, Ephesians 5:11 (NIV) Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. In what way are we to “expose them?” Let me suggest, that calling people out for their sin should be one of the last things we do instead of the first. The reason for this is that when we put ourselves in the position of referee, we can easily go from having a motivation to love and encourage God’s light in them to a motivation of showing them how dark they are compared to ourselves. That is a place you do not want to go.

One of the stories that Charlie Jones, liked to tell was about a time when he was having a difficult time with his wife Gloria. He was mad. She didn’t listen to him. She was always nagging him. It was at the point where he didn’t love her any more.

One night, after a long day of sales and travel as he was walking to the bedroom he heard her praying. She was not asking God to change Charlie, she was asking God to help her be a better wife. Then it hit him, or rather God hit him. She wasn’t the problem he was. He was the problem. Charlie broke down and wept. And after an 8 year drought, his love for Gloria came back. Let God do the convicting. You focus on the loving.

Let God use the light that shines out from you to do the convicting and exposing. It is so much more effective.

Let me suggest that the first idea that pops into our minds about how to expose them is often the wrong one—calling them out. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when this is clearly the thing we are to do, and Scripture tells us there are times when it is absolutely necessary too. Jesus wasn’t sinning when He rebuked Peter saying “Get behind me Satan!” Paul did the right thing when he publically called Peter to task for snubbing Gentile Christians in favor of Jewish ones. And Jesus clearly says in Luke 17:3 (NIV), If your brother sins, rebuke him.

So let’s sum up:

What does it mean to be children of the light? It means that we are proof of God’s presence and blessing because our lives are marked by His wisdom, righteousness and grace.

Living as children of the light identifies us as belonging to God and living in His power. When we are living as children of the light, God uses our life to wake people up to their need of a savior. And when we live as children of the light we share God’s love with the people around us.

We nurture that light when our family is not able to by connecting to godly men and women in our church family who can be spiritual parents to us, by focusing on keeping our light bright and clear instead of focusing on the darkness in others, and by letting God use the light that shines out from us to bring to light the need for Jesus’ love and forgiveness in those around us.

 

 

The Fear of Discipleship


Found this one in the archives of Learning to be Full of Grace and Truth. Originally posted way back in 2012 when my main follower was my mom. Since there has been the request by Pete Gardner and others for more on this I have reposted it for your reading pleasure. I’d love to know what you think.

Grace,

Dan

***

I have written several posts about how discipleship is a spiritual type of parenting. All Christians are called to be spiritual parents by being spiritual fathers and mothers to people they are discipling.

Up to this point I have been sharing that I have been learning the biblical reasons why we should pursue discipleship in this way. Today, I want to share what I have been thinking about one of the main reasons that we don’t want to look at discipleship as a type of parenthood, and that is that spiritual parenting takes great effort and resolve and commitment.

Spiritual parenting is difficult because spiritual growth is often messy. If you are going to attempt spiritual parenting, you will run to difficulties, challenges, headaches, and heartaches, and disappointments. These are not abnormal, but normal; as normal as the difficulties, challenges, headaches, and heartaches, and disappointments that come with parenting.

What keeps us from modeling this kind of discipleship together? Simply put I think the number one reason we struggle so much with pursuing spiritual parenting is fear.

Fear of CommitmentFirst is a fear of the time commitment. Spiritual parenting takes time. It means committing to take that time, and time is something we can be very stingy with isn’t it? Other times the problem is not with being protective of our time but just not being disciplined enough with our time. Both the spiritual parent and the spiritual son or daughter need to be committed to taking the time to spend together. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to be a spiritual parent to a person who continually makes excuses to reschedule meeting together. Nothing is more frustrating to a spiritual son or daughter than their spiritual parent constantly canceling meeting together. We need to take Hebrews 10:25 (NLT) to heart, And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

 

Fear of intimacyA second fear that keeps us from spiritual parenting is a fear of intimacy. You can’t be a good father or mother with you kids if you are unwilling to be close to them. The same is true with spiritual parenting. Loving another person and teaching them how to love requires a willingness to open up, to give of yourself, to go deep with that person. That can be a very scary thing.

As the spiritual son or daughter you need to be able to share your struggles, failures, questions, and frustrations. That requires a level of trust and safety with your spiritual parent. As spiritual sons and daughters we need to remember Proverbs 28:13 (NIV), He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.

As a spiritual parent you not only need to be ready to hear about the sins, failures, and struggles of the person you are discipling—and that without judging them, but you need to be willing to share your own struggles and how you have dealt or continue to deal with your own struggles, failures, questions, and frustrations. Spiritual parents need to model Colossians 3:15-16 (NIV), Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

Fear of inadequacyA third fear that keeps us from spiritual parenting is a fear of inadequacy. For the spiritual parent this expresses itself in a feeling of unworthiness to have such a responsibility. We say things like, “Why would anyone want to learn from me? What could anyone learn from me? I am such a sinner. I don’t know what to say. I don’t know Scripture that well.” As spiritual parents we need to remember that God is not depending on us to do His work for Him, but wants to include us in His work in the life of our disciple. When God called Moses to be a spiritual father to His people, he gave many of the same excuses to God. God replied by saying Exodus 4:11-12 (NIV) Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.

We can have the same fear as spiritual sons and daughters. We can think, “Who would want to teach me? Who would want to help me with my problems? They are too big. They are too personal. What would they think of me? I would just be judged.” We need to remember that as disciples what we are experiencing is not unique. We need to remember 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV) No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. 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 stand up under it. That way out is often in sharing that temptation or problem with your spiritual parent. Chances are they have struggled with the same things.

These fears actually reveal where we need to be growing. The fear of committing our time serves as a test of our commitment to God and of our loving obedience to Him. The fear of intimacy serves as a test of our trust in God to give us grace and mercy to help people deal with the ugliness of sin. The fear of inadequacy is a test of our humility, and of our dependence on God instead of on ourselves.

The Father’s Love Frees Us to Trust and Depend on Him


I have three daughters. I am the only male living in my house. I am a minority in a sorority. I love being a dad, and I love my girls. I love them because God made me their dad. I love them because they are my children. No matter what they have done or will do in the future, nothing will change the fact that I am their dad and that they are God’s gifts to me. I will always love them. My love for them is not based on what they do, it is based in who they are.

That is the reason God loves His children. It is not based on what we do, though God certainly is not pleased with all that we do. His love for you is based on who you are in Christ. That love frees us to love God and trust God and depend on God in the same way that Jesus did. That is awesome freedom.