Helping Hand

For I hold you by your right hand— I, the Lord your God. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.
Isaiah 41:13 NLT

This morning, our family got up early and exercised with weights together for our first time. My daughter and wife cleaned out and organized the room yesterday so that we would be able to use it as an exercise room again. My wife helped encourage me out of bed this morning, and I encouraged my daughter awake. After we gathered in the basement workout room, I helped teach them proper technique for each exercise as we focus on our arms this morning. Today was a restart for another one of our old, good habits that had fallen out of practice. And we have been helping and encouraging each other in many ways to get back to having these good habits consistently a part of our lives.

As much as we are trying to help ourselves and each other, we fail each other at times. And sometimes circumstances occur where we aren’t physically nearby in order to be able to help each other. But God is with us. He holds our hands, and He is here to help us.

I think the most helpful part of the verse though, is the “Do not be afraid.” Our family just went through a season that was very difficult and where we saw many good habits torn down by circumstances. We saw people (both family and friends) that were by our side and a regular help and encouragement leave our daily lives because of so many different reasons. And our own attention and focus and time shifted to meet the wide array of challenges, needs and distractions so that we were no longer razor ficus in purpose and direction, but were seemingly pulled in many directions. I even saw my prayer, my worship, my time in The Word become affected as my focused shifted away. But you know what, God was still there with me. He wasn’t surprised by it, He wasn’t jealous and indignant about this season. He didn’t hold it over my head to demonstrate yet again why I don’t deserve Him. He is here to help me, not tear me down.

Yesterday, I got to eat dinner with my dad at Capri’s Italian while he was back in town. Since they now live in Myrtle Beach, I hadn’t gotten to spend time with him on Father’s Day, so I really just wanted some time together with him — just to spend time together, and to remind him how important he is to me. My parents help us so much, and we rarely get to help them. In fact, it is practically impossible for us to ever pay for a meal when we are with them. But dad had to go to the restroom during our dinner, and I quickly gave the waitress my card and paid for dinner while he was unaware in the restroom. After he came back and we finished eating, he pulled out his wallet and as I told him, “You don’t need that.” He smirked that familiar smirk and I’m sure the decades old and familiar back and forth of me trying to offer and him insisting to pay was warning up in his mind. But I had already taken care of it.

I wonder if our praise and worship is sort of like that to God? He doesn’t truly “need” anything from us. And anything we have to offer Him in return isn’t going to impact His worth or value. And He is the giver of his gifts. So even when we offer what little, relatively insignificant good gift we have to offer him — we are really just trying to emulate back to Him what we have seen Him do for us our whole lives.

Lord, thank you for your consistency, your faithfulness, your unending love and mercy towards us. Help our lives to be a loving worship full of the fruit that you so abundantly give to us freely and generously. Amen.

Christ In Me

My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.
Galatians 2:20‭-‬21 NLT

Last night, I wrote about the Spiritual Principal that the story of the Widow’s Mite teaches us about — and how that applies to all things of the heart, not just money.  And today, we are talking about “keeping the law” versus “Christ lives in me”.

This concept of genuine faith and genuine worship of God is at the heart of our very being.

A quick related interjection: One of my favorite books of the Old Testament is the book of Amos. It is a prophetic book of warning about God’s judgement not only on the world but on God’s own chosen people. This book might shock many modern day “Buddy Jesus Christians” who would model God in the image of their own “feelings” on what “love” should look like. But even the new Testament teaches us about the concept that God’s word is a valuable plumbline (Matthew 7:24-27) to guide us in an annunciation and fruitful life — living by the power of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:17-26) — and that God will judge the church first (1 Peter 4:17). (NOTE: That is a lot to glue together, so I’ve just left the references for those who want to pull out their shovels and dig deeper, rather than quoting them here.)

“Christ in me” is different than:

  • Keeping the law as an obligatory heavy burden (condemnation)
  • Keeping the law in order to compare ourselves to others (self- righteousness)
  • Outwardly keeping the law in order to use it to judge and Lord over others (hypocrisy)
  • Trying but failing to keep the law so that we are remorseful and remain engaged in our religious activities to constantly be making amends or seeking contrition from a religious system (shame)
  • Presuming upon God’s grace and using the idea of “Buddy Jesus” as an excuse for continued wickedness (willfully sinning)

Something that we should realize is that there is no way for us to manipulate things and use God’s Word for our own selfish purposes. We are not smarter than Him so that we might twist His Word into a loophole that we might use against Him in court at judgement in order to justify ourselves. We are not justified by our own feelings, thoughts, or misunderstanding of His will — we can only be saved by the Blood of the Lamb and justified by grace through faith.

So, I must genuinely ask, “Has my old self been sacrificed? Does Christ truly live in me?” This is the all important question, my friends.

Heavenly Father, I believe in you, and I trust and believe in Jesus Christ who lived a sinless life, died a sinners death on the cross, was dead, buried in a tomb, and rose again to life, and sits on your right hand of authority, to judge between those who are alive in Christ or dead in sin. I believe that by myself, I am spiritually weak and sinful — but by the power of your Holy Spirit you are bearing the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self- control in my life for the glory of God and for the revealing of the Children of God to be a light of hope in the midst of a dying world. Help us to have your Word written upon our hearts, to live out the spiritual principals that fulfill the law of Christ, and to be the body of Christ serving and loving one another. Amen.

“Less” Absolutely Can Be “More” (And Many Times IS)

Jesus sat down near the collection box in the Temple and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts. Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins. Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.”
Mark 12:41‭-‬44 NLT

This “Kingdom Principal” as demonstrated in this story contrasts the way of the world with God’s perfect “The Way”.

In the world’s way, the rich will make a great show and honor people who donate large sums to sort their organizations — because it is focused on the tangible money.

But in “The Kingdom of God” it is about spiritual principals and the manifestation of the gifts of God’s Holy Spirit. If a billionaire gives tens of thousands of dollars out of his surplus to a cause, it is not sacrificial — and might even be in order to gain a tax advantage or receive praise and honor from other people for his contributions. But a poor person giving their last few dollars may not look like much from the world’s perspective of finance and power — while it may be a powerful, spiritual demonstration of faith and genuine worship.

I love hearing very talented singers praise God. But they might be worshiping out of the surplus of their talent, just like the rich people in the scripture account do with their money. I can get more excited spiritually and in my heart when I hear someone “less talented” that is unashamed and unafraid in their genuine worship of God where they have clearly given it their all. Some of my favorite people to have join my worship collaborations on Smule are several singers who have Downs Syndrome, who the world might not value as “singers”. But I am so very humbled and encouraged by their genuine and fully surrendered worship.

There are so many areas of our lives that we could look at this way that aren’t just money and singing.

What do our lives look like in the light of these “Kingdom Principals” and not just when measured by the yardstick of morality, dogma, and human judgement?

What do our hearts truly look like in the light of heaven’s view on our “contributions”?

Thank you Lord that the point of this is not our shame, but our repentance and our sanctification. Help our eyes to see from an all important spiritual view of your Kingdom at work on earth even as it is in heaven. Amen.

My Father’s Day is Today

The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him.
Psalms 103:13 NLT

This past Sunday was Father’s Day and my wife, my daughter and I celebrated at home and at church together as a family. Since my parents have moved 4 hours away to the beach, and since both of my grand fathers have passed, and since my inlaws didn’t do the normal Saturday get together with all their kids and grands – it has been a bit different this year. There seems to be “a new normal” in much of our lives these days as we adjust to post-pandemic changes and losses of loved ones.

This is a sweet time with my daughter, as she grows into a pre-teen and still enjoys time with us — even as she starts paying more attention to the things that young people eventually are more interested in. It is wonderful that our relationship is so close and healthy that I can be tender and compassionate with her and that I don’t have to breach the peace in order to insure her attention. So I spend these years trying to lay the ground work about important topics that will come later in her life. We speak together now, so that hopefully I have to tell a little less later on. She has many lessons to learn in life and I tell her that I’ll still respect her whether she chooses the hard way of learning lessons on her own or the wise way of learning from our advice and God’s Word.

The Lord has taught me that being a good father is about the character and fruit that our children’s lives will produce in this world, and being engaged enough in their lives to apply the right nutrients to their soil. If she is flourishing, she may just need acknowledgement of her progress today and preparation for tomorrow as a daily treatment to basically check for weeds and enjoy her beautiful growth. If life’s circumstances are testing her — weeds, bugs, and sickness are starting to wear her down — encouragement, assistance, and commitment to work through it together is helpful. And in seasons where those things have hurt her growth, correction is necessary — even pruning things away from her life that are dangerous might be necessary. All of these things look very different, but when applied in the right timing they are all loving and helpful.

It is the same with the Lord’s love for us. If we have a healthy respect and fear of God, we can trust that His Word is not a burdensome set of rules to measure and judge ourselves and others — but is tender and compassionate and wise advise to help us live an abundant life, serve others well, and reveal God’s presence to an otherwise unaware world.

Our Father has made us in His image and has offered wisdom and love to lead us through today better prepared — if we will listen, if we will truly hear, if we will believe, if we will value His Word, and if we will follow in His Way.

And each of us will choose…

Thank you for being a great Father, Lord. Help us to be wise children and not so foolish as we have been in the past. And help us to share your wisdom not just in our words, but what we teach those around us in how we live. Let our lives be a living testimony that you are with us, and that it is you alive in us that proves The Way so that they too might walk with You. Amen.

May the Word of the Lord be your help.

There are many different ways to translate the greeting from Boaz to his workers from Ruth 2:4, but I really do like this from John Gill’s exposition of the Bible where he references the Targum as “May the Word of the Lord be your help.” Wikipedia explains that the point of a targum is that “A targum was an originally spoken translation of the Hebrew Bible that a professional translator would give in the common language of the listeners when that was not Hebrew.” For those of us who aren’t fluent in Hebrew and don’t understand the original language, context and customs — preachers, expositions, Bible translations into our common language, and targums are very helpful to help us understand. In fact, our very lives are meant to be targums in a way — bringing the Word of God that is foreign and not understandable to a lost person close enough and familiar enough to them through is that they might encounter the Lord.

It was then that Boaz came back from Bethlehem and said to the reapers, “The Lord be with you!” And they answered him, “The Lord bless you!”
Ruth 2:4 AMP

Boaz greeted his workers in a familiar way that brought God glory and allowed them to in return give God glory as well. And he didn’t just give God glory in his words, but also in how he lived.

Truly, there is no help better for us than the Word of God. That is the truth for this life and for the eternal. We can find no better help than the Living Word of God being with us and helping us and guiding us through our day. I pray we know this, we believe this, and we live this in such a tangible way that it compels a response from others that also glorifies God today. Amen!

Gang Rape and Incest?

There is no way to get around it, Genesis 19 is a tough chapter to walk through. It starts out with a very disturbing passage on the topic of a community where gang rape seems to be either normalized, or at least a systemic and common occurrence.

For most of us, not having the ability to refuse sexual advances from others would seem very odd. But even today, there are many people trapped in the sex trafficking trade that deal with rape and gang rape and who have no expectation that they would get to choose or refuse those who press hard against their door. No matter how foreign or uncomfortable this situation might be compared to our own sheltered experiences — or how painful it might be in comparison to personal experiences of molestation, rape, etc. — we mustn’t ignore that this type of exploitation and injustice carries an especially challenging burden.

For victims of these types of crimes against humanity, it is especially hard to not wish for vengeance for your oppressors instead of pursuing for their forgiveness. And we can see that even God’s patience with such wickedness (and great suffering caused to others others) has limits.

The culmination of this chapter, where they have been delivered from this place and culture of sexual slavery but how it clearly has an impact on how the children grow up normalized to the idea of incest is also hard to stomach for most of us living with first world problems.

To think that this is an outrageous and far fetched situation is to ignore what many poor, oppressed and victimized people deal with today. We who are reading daily Christian devotionals in the comfort of our homes and jobs may not have the particular threat of gang rape and incest pressing to break into our house. But lust, pornography, sexual perversions, adultery and all kinds of temptations would love to set the standards of our family closer and closer to Sodom and Gomorrah one generation at a time until sin is normalized and things like gang rape and incest aren’t even shocking or uncommon.

It is not so far fetched to imagine a society that starts out punishes those in court who refuse to glorify and normalize sexual perversion — moving (if unchecked) to the point of forcing acts of sexual perversion upon unwilling participants.

So we must remember the grace that our God has extended us, seek how we might help, encourage and introduce those enslaved to the trappings of sexual sin to the Way, the Truth, and the Life. And we must not hesitate to run from such things when they endanger our family — especially when the Lord makes it clear that we must turn away without looking back.

Each of us has something that we need to lay down and never pick up again. Each of us has something small that we could surrender that might seem harmless at first but could grow beyond our control and wreck our lives if left to multiply like a cancer. Let’s recognize the warning in this passage, turn away from sin, turn to God before what we “put up with” has very real consequences for our children and those we love. Amen.

“Yahweh”, “El Roi”, “El Shaddai”, “Allah”, and “Jesus”

I’m reading in Genesis this morning, and two of the chapters are 16, which focuses on the birth of Ishmael, and 17, which focuses on Abram’s name change to Abraham. It is quite interesting, that right in the middle of Abram getting a different name, we see these differences in name when it comes to God.

Thereafter, Hagar used another name to refer to the Lord, who had spoken to her. She said, “You are the God who sees me.” She also said, “Have I truly seen the One who sees me?”
Genesis 16:13 NLT

The name described in Hagar’s story here is “El Roi“. And we see in chaper 17 that the name “El Shaddai” is given as a self description by God to Abram. In the story of Moses, the name given at the burning bush is the tetragammon, or “Yahweh“. And if we look at the lineage of Ishmael that leads to today’s Muslims, we find their use of the name “Allah“, and Christians have the name of “Jesus” that is given to them.

And many might say, “It’s all the same God and religion is just people fighting over what name to call God and how they can force their own beliefs onto others.” And I’ll agree that the defiled “religion” that most of us think of when we hear that word — it clearly has those problems and a well documented history of oppression, injustice, and wickedness — because man-made, defiled religion is a disguise of self-righteousness that unrighteous people put on in order to hide their own selfish agendas and motives. Yep, I said it, and you’re either agreeing with me right now or you’re offended — and I still love you either way.

“Religion” as we think of it in the “man-made” terms of this fallen world is very defiled. Regardless of which one you pick by name, it won’t take long to dig up a scandal, a horror, a war, an injustice, or a clearly ungodly happening that is directly and undeniably tied to that sect, denomination, world religion, etc.

But just because there are defiled religions, doesn’t mean that there isn’t something greater — an actual “pure religion” that isn’t just a constant war of “mine is right and yours is wrong”, nor is it a careless and thoughtless “abandoning of a singular truth for a multitude of lies”.

So what are we to make of all of these different names?

What are we to make of all of these religious people signing us up for their causes and agendas?

What are we to make of the hurt and pain that man-made, defiled religions have caused and continue to cause today?

Are we to tell them that they must cease and desist all religious activity — just to see it go underground and become more powerful and prevalent than it was when it was mainstream and highly available publicly?

Or are we to insist that they must reconcile their dogmatic differences so that everything fits into a non-offensive, one world order — else we cancel culture them out of business?

The best war that can be waged against defiled religions is not to make direct war with them — like Sun Tzu would say about making war, we must understand ourselves and our enemy. We can’t wage war their way by trying to enforce and enslave — or we ourselves will look up and find ourselves to be those self-same religious demons.

No, we choose pure religion — loving and serving one another, being in awe of Almighty God in His perfection and power, grateful towards Him for His grace and mercy, mindfully repentant and obedient towards His commands, and seeking to prepare ourselves for the after by this life.

Each of the names of God has something valuable to teach us — and the Christian has much they could learn from the Muslim and the Muslim much that can be learned from the Christian. Whether it was the Levites who could be close to the very presence of God, or the nation of Israel who could enter the courts, or even the Gentiles who could pass through the outer courtyards — all could be blessed by God.

I pray that those who are called to close intimacy with God, those who desire to enter in close with Him to praise Him and know Him personally will not fear. Christ has thrown wide the doors so that you might enter into a closer relationship with the Living God — not by your own self-righteousness (which is filthy by God’s standards) but by the Blood of the Lamb — the Lamb that God himself provided, just like with Abraham and Isaac — and just like the blessed waters that He provided for Hagar and Ishmael.

Regardless of the name we have known Him by up to this point, my encouragement is that we can draw closer — and even be called by name, and His name be revealed to us personally. Amen.

The law?

The law doesn’t exist for us to live up to in order to please God — the law exists to keep us from harming ourselves and others.

If our theology is about being good enough for God, we are probably departed from the narrow path of the gospel and veered into the pit of self- righteousness.

If our theology allows us to hate God’s Word, make fun of those who worship Him, and live in continued rebellion against His will and His law, we are probably departed from the narrow path of the gospel and veered into the wide path of destruction and into luke-warm “Christianity” that will be puked out of His mouth and turned away as “I never knew you”.

If you sin, how does that affect God? Even if you sin again and again, what effect will it have on him? If you are good, is this some great gift to him? What could you possibly give him? No, your sins affect only people like yourself, and your good deeds also affect only humans.

Job 35:6‭-‬8 NLT

We cannot be “good enough” to please God. But we can be sinful enough to be far from Him or self-righteous enough to be a stench in His nostrils.

It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore.

Isaiah 59:2 NLT

Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins. There is only the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies. For anyone who refused to obey the law of Moses was put to death without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Just think how much worse the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God, and have treated the blood of the covenant, which made us holy, as if it were common and unholy, and have insulted and disdained the Holy Spirit who brings God’s mercy to us. For we know the one who said, “I will take revenge. I will pay them back.” He also said, “The Lord will judge his own people.” It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Hebrews 10:26‭-‬31 NLT

Yet they say to each other, ‘Don’t come too close or you will defile me! I am holier than you!’ These people are a stench in my nostrils, an acrid smell that never goes away.

Isaiah 65:5 NLT

“I hate all your show and pretense— the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies. I will not accept your burnt offerings and grain offerings. I won’t even notice all your choice peace offerings. Away with your noisy hymns of praise! I will not listen to the music of your harps. Instead, I want to see a mighty flood of justice, an endless river of righteous living.

Amos 5:21‭-‬24 NLT

It isn’t by the law or by religious activity and traditions that we please God, but only by a humble and contrite spirit that comes through faith.

My hands have made both heaven and earth; they and everything in them are mine. I, the Lord, have spoken! “I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at my word. But those who choose their own ways— delighting in their detestable sins— will not have their offerings accepted. When such people sacrifice a bull, it is no more acceptable than a human sacrifice. When they sacrifice a lamb, it’s as though they had sacrificed a dog! When they bring an offering of grain, they might as well offer the blood of a pig. When they burn frankincense, it’s as if they had blessed an idol. I will send them great trouble— all the things they feared. For when I called, they did not answer. When I spoke, they did not listen. They deliberately sinned before my very eyes and chose to do what they know I despise.”

Isaiah 66:2‭-‬4 NLT

And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.

Hebrews 11:6 NLT

So we must repent.

We must humble ourselves before God.

We must see where we have turned away from His good advice and helpful wisdom to go out own way into destruction.

We must decide to trust His Word and His law and His Word and His people as precious.

We must have faith that He knows best.

We must be willing to recognize and admit our own shortcomings and rebellion as harmful to ourselves and others.

We must decide to trust God, to believe Him.


We must recognize that we have lied to ourselves in convincing ourselves why it would be better to go out own way instead of God’s way.

Shabbat Shalom

There is something about a hard work week that leaves me crashing into the arms of the weekend and truly appreciating the rest. I heard a lecturer recently speak on “devaluing the currency of success” where he spoke about the concept that “if everything is made equally valuable, then nothing is truly valuable”. There is a parallel there that made me understand the need for a “special day” — not for meeting some kind of legal obligation to meet God’s requirements — but to establish that wonderful feeling of “returning home” of “peace and rest” after a week’s hard work.

When Jews say “Shabbat shalom – Sabbath peace” to family and friends after a draining work week, we mean far more than “have a peaceful and restful day.” What we are really saying is: May you be restored to wholeness on the blessed Sabbath!

It seems that our life as a Christian is meant to be hard and dedicated work that ends with us totally spent, falling into the peace and rest of our Savior — whether we are talking about a single day and night, a week and sabbath, a year and lent, or an earthly life and heaven.

Our normal, hard work — out there in the midst of the world as ambassadors of the Holy Spirit — is meant to drive us to that point where we must be restored to wholeness — where our cup must be refilled to overflowing.

In fact, if we are just “playing it safe” or “testing in our complacency”, we will find ourselves devaluing these times of special rest and restoration — because we have made them all to be the same by resting when we should have been working.

My encouragement is to not fear the exhaustion, to not fear the spent nature of the work at hand, to make no excuse that we might come to the church every single week rushing to that altar time after time again to be washed, to be filled, to be restored yet again.

I have heard said that the close we come to God, the more we can see our own sin. So shouldn’t it be much more than the “I want to give my life to Jesus” folks rushing the altar each and every week? Shouldn’t it be just as much (and even moreso!) the “old saints” and “the elders” and the church leadership falling on their faces repenting openly and publicly of even the smallest sin or weakness and giving God glory?!!!

And as we approach the season of Lent — might we consider the sweat rest of turning off Social Media, turning off divisive News Media, maybe even putting our phones and devices away for a time period to give ourselves time to rest and be restored by the peace of disconnection from the world and a return to God.

May our work in this life have us longing for that final Shabbat Shalom, even as we rest in Him each and every day. Amen.

No Agenda, One Motive

I have a friend, Michael Mcleymore, who runs an amazing rehab/ recovery program in Union County, South Carolina, called The Prodigal’s Home. He recently had another inspiring post that he shared from a moment in the life of their program. At the end, he closed with:

“No agenda, one motive: be the love of Jesus! “

One of the ugliest things about people who are involved in “good things” is when we find there is an hidden agenda. When we find out that someone has laid out a chess match type of manipulation/transaction of a situation where they give the impression that they are being good, generous, charitable, etc. — but it turns out they were actually just doing it for themselves.

Even religious people who think that doing more good deeds in this life will earn them a greater reward somehow — may actually be working under a hidden agenda to benefit themselves, rather than truly being “motivated to love and serve others”.

It is the motive that matters.

As a Christian, we are to be motivated by the love of Jesus for us, that in turn motivates us to love others. This motivation that rises up out of faith that He loved us first — it is truly the foundation for the disciple of Christ.

If our theology, traditions, dogma and ceremonies don’t all grow from this root — from this motive — they are fruit from the seed of a poisonous tree — they are about the self-righteous measuring and comparing of our own good and evil — rather than a being drawn close to the Lord to walk as He walks.

No agenda, one motive: Be the love of Jesus!

Find out more about Michael’s ministry here:

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.
Romans 12:9‭-‬10 NLT

People may be pure in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their motives.
Proverbs 16:2 NLT

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.”
Jeremiah 17:9‭-‬10 NLT

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable.
Hebrews 4:12‭-‬13 NLT

Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored. But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won’t know what we’re talking about. But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells—even though you still experience all the limitations of sin—you yourself experience life on God’s terms. It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s! So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go! This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him! * * *
Romans 8:5‭-‬17 MSG