Recognizing Your Spiritual Dependency On Humans

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Jason’s father is the pastor of a mega church and a very dominant personality who has most of the Bible memorized.  When Pastor Jack declares that God disapproves of something or someone, Jason feels like God Himself has spoken.  The problem is that Jack is a hard man to please—impossible, in fact. Jason has spent his whole life trying to earn his father’s approval, only to have Jack constantly find fault with him.  Today Jason is convinced that he’ll never succeed at pleasing God unless he manages to please his demanding father, because he’s convinced that the two beings think alike. Continue reading

It’s Personal: Understanding How God Communicates with Humans

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When God is talking to Americans, He talks like an American—using terms, slang, and metaphors that Americans understand.  When He’s talking to Russians, He talks like a Russian.  When He’s talking to Italians, He talks like an Italian.  Because God gave us all of the language tools we use today, and because He understands us better than we understand ourselves, it’s a very simple thing for Him to communicate to us in ways that we will understand.  It’s also a very simple thing for Him to stonewall us, confuse us, and prevent us from pondering certain questions and possibilities.  The point is that if God wants you to understand something, there’s no way that you can stop yourself from receiving that information.  At the same time, if God wants to withhold information from you, there’s no way that you can pry that information out of Him.   Continue reading

Recognizing Trust Lessons: Why God is Refusing to Give You Clear Direction

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When you are very eager to please God, it’s only natural that you want to be 100% sure that you’re doing exactly what He wants all of the time.  In an effort to secure that kind of assurance, it’s very easy to fall into a habit of casting lots or routinely asking God for clear signs before you decide on a course of action.  And yet once you start trying to get God to confirm your decisions before you act on them, you will quickly discover that He starts refusing to do so.  Perhaps He does speak to you through signs the first few times.  But soon He’ll stop speaking to you through them.  If that doesn’t deter you from trying to use them, then He’ll start intentionally deceiving you.  For example, in a fit of frustration, you might ask, “God, if You love me, then make this coin land heads up,” and instead God will cause it to land heads down or do whatever else you’ve set up as your “no” signal.  A couple of rounds of this treatment, and you’ll lose all confidence in casting lots as you pitch into a period of frustration and doubt.  So why does God do this?  Why does He intentionally frustrate your efforts to get clear direction from Him?  Isn’t He supposed to be judging you by your motivations?  Yes, He does.  Then why doesn’t He appreciate the fact that you’re sincerely trying to please Him by being clear about what He wants?  He does appreciate it, and He’s expressing His appreciation by frustrating the heck out of you when you try to get clear leading from Him.  Well, what kind of sense does this make?  This is what we’re going to talk about in this post. Continue reading

Growing Close to God: The Critical Role of Choice (The Mountain Metaphor)

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If you’re a committed Christian, then at some point you decided that pleasing God was going to be your top priority in life.  This is certainly a fabulous thing, but it’s also just the first step in your personal journey with God.  In this post, we’re going to use a metaphor to understand how God deepens His bond with you after that critical decision point.  The purpose of this metaphor is to help you set realistic expectations in your relationship with God, as well as steer you clear of drawing wrong assumptions about how God responds to your frustrations along the way. Continue reading

Learning from Yahweh: What It Means To Be Holy

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Like the word grace, the word holy has multiple meanings. In the Bible, we find people, places, objects, actions, and God all being described as holy. This should immediately raise a red flag in our minds, because we should definitely not be viewing God Almighty on the same level as some cup or some human activity. In one passage Yahweh says that He is holy, and in another passage He says that the Israelites are a holy people. Obviously He is talking about two different kinds of holy because He certainly does not view Himself as being on the same level as human beings. Instead, He views Himself as infinitely superior to humans, which is why He says things like:

“All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of Yahweh blows on them.” (Isa. 40:6-7)

Continue reading

Why We Shouldn’t Make Promises to God

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God controls the future. You do not. This critical difference in abilities is what turns your promises to God into such negative things. You see, when you promise that something will happen in the future to the One who controls the future, what you’re really doing is telling God what to do. God doesn’t like it when His own creatures boss Him about, hence God wants us to stop with the vows and the promises and start acknowledging our limitations.

Picture yourself riding along in a car which someone else is driving. You have no idea where the driver is heading because he hasn’t told you. But he obviously has a plan in mind because the car is in motion and he’s making turns at certain intersections. Now suppose you suddenly announce, “We’re going left at the next corner.” Isn’t that rather rude of you? Since you’re not the one driving, and since the driver already has a destination in mind, shouldn’t you instead ask, “So where are you taking me?” Or, if there is some shop you want to stop at, it would be far more appropriate for you to politely ask, “Would you mind if we turned left at the next corner so that I could pop in to such-and-such?” But instead of doing either of these things you simply command the driver to turn left at the next intersection. Well, when that intersection comes up, the driver turns right instead and gives you an annoyed look for being so disrespectful. Continue reading

Intercession: Exposing the Lies

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Like tithing, intercession is one of those topics in the Church which a majority of teachers are teaching you wrong about. It’s a big problem when your shepherds lie to you, because lies end up creating problems in your personal relationship with God. Bad teaching about tithing inspires Christians to disrespect God and/or fear that His acceptance of them is not something they can count on. Bad teaching about intercession does major damage as well. Continue reading