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Blog: Lee Younger

It's Better Than You Think

CCC Oak Ridge

You think your quiet time sucks, right? You think that because of how long you’ve been walking with the Lord, the daily time you spend with Him reading Scripture or praying ought to be way more _____ than it is. And look, I don’t know what word to put in the blank in that last sentence - fruitful, consistent, amazing, emotional - whatever, but there’s some adjective that your devotional life lacks and needs, right? 

Well, what if it doesn’t? I’m going to float an idea past you and I’m not asking you to completely buy into it, but just hear me out on it and open yourself up to the possibility that it could be true, okay? Here goes: your quiet time is already better than you think. It’s not that you need to overhaul what you’re doing or add a new element to make it better, it’s just that you need to relax your expectations about it and enjoy it more.  

Here’s the thing: most people truly believe and expect that when they sit down to have some time with the Lord in prayer or Bible reading or journaling or whatever, the foundations of the world will shift, Heaven will split open, angel choirs will sing and they will have a massive, emotional and spiritual breakthrough. They expect to feel better about all of their problems, have epiphanies about their confusions, be completely galvanized to face all of their temptations with impenetrable resolve and weep with spiritual joy. We think having a quiet time should feel like Moses did on Mount Sinai every time. 

The truth is, it won’t always be like that. Sometimes it might. When you hang out with Jesus, you will sometimes feel better about your problems and get answers for your confusions. Sometimes you will feel strengthened to face the day and you may even have an emotional moment, but that won’t always be the case. Sometimes you’ll just read something, pray some stuff and it won’t feel like much. The thing you need to remember is this: the point of hanging out with Jesus isn’t to secure for yourself a spiritual high. No, the point of hanging out with Jesus is simply to hang out with Him. He wants a friendship with you. Sometimes being together is going to be amazing and sometimes it will feel commonplace, but do it. Go hang out with Him. Go be friends. Relax your expectations and just be around Jesus a little bit every day, by yourself. That’s doing more than you think it is. 

 

The Voice

CCC Oak Ridge

Are you ready to grow spiritually? Do you want to take your walk up to the next level? If I were to ask you what would help you grow more than any other thing, what would you say? Would your gut response be that you need to cut a certain sin out of your life? Would you say that you need to serve more or have a more consistent devotional time? Do you think the key to growth has to do with giving more money away or denying yourself more? What would it be? What is the dead ringer that will bring about the most growth? 

Well, the thing is, it might be any one of those things or none of them. It could be that the key to your spiritual growth is something no one else has ever thought of before and has never landed in a ‘Christian Living’ book. You see, I can’t tell you what the next step to your spiritual growth is because I’m not invited into your personal relationship with Jesus.

That right there is the key. You have a relationship with Jesus. He lives inside you and has a will for your life. All day, everyday He is leading you and guiding you into His plan for your life and growth. All day, everyday His Spirit is pouring out the love of God into your heart, telling you who you are and how He feels about you. He doesn’t shout the way the world does. He’s whispering. You may not hear an audible voice, but Jesus is communicating with you in the deepest place of who you are. He is the one with the growth plan. He has the steps lined out and no one can tell you what comes next the way He can. If you want to grow, the number one thing you need to do is to start learning how to listen to His voice and follow Him. Start in the little things: “How do you want me to react to that, Lord?” “Should I have that conversation or not, Lord?” “Show me today how much you love me, Lord.”

You are in a real relationship with a Living Person. It’s a relationship of love. Words of love are not usually shouted from the rooftops. They are best when they are quiet, private, sincere and face-to-face. Get alone with Jesus and start learning how to listen to His voice.  

“The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for Him, and the sheep listen to His voice. He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out. When He has brought out all His own, He goes on ahead of them, and His sheep follow Him because they know His voice.”  - John 10:2-4

To The Day-Dreamers

CCC Oak Ridge

You know that feeling you have when you’re reading an amazing book or watching your favorite movie and you just wish it were real? And look, by wish, I don’t mean that you just want it to be real. I mean that you want it so bad, you can almost taste it. You spend actual time thinking about what it would be like to live there. You want to open a door in your house and step into that world - you want to be those people. For some folks, it’s the romance and drama of a Victorian love story. For others, it’s the magic of Hogwarts or the gallantry and gravity of Middle Earth.  Some of us would proudly admit that we have had far too many conversations in our lives where we ranked different super powers and actually day dreamed about having them.

If you’re one of those people who falls a little too far into the fiction you love, you’ve probably had someone in your life tell you that you are wasting your time or dreaming away your real life, but don’t listen to them. You know the truth. You know that there’s something in the Arthurian legends and saturday morning cartoons that calls to a very deep place in your heart. There’s something that wakes up inside you every time you get carried away by a great story where some hero saves the day or some heart gives in to love. Somewhere deep inside your soul, you know that you were made to be a part of a Story like that. You recognize (and you’ve always known it’s true) that you are special and have a destiny and a part to play. 

For all of the dreamers out there, give your heart to Jesus and join in the True Myth. There is a Prince who is wooing the heart of the one He loves. There is a Hero who sacrificed everything to complete the ultimate rescue mission. There is a Journey worth giving your life to. There is a Fight worth dying for. There is a Quest with your name on it, and there is a King who lives forever and wants you to fight alongside Him. There’s a reason your soul wakes up when you turn the pages of your favorite tale... You know you belong there. 

Whatever You Do, Don't Quit!

CCC Oak Ridge

Some of you out there are really giving it your all when it comes to your walk with the Lord. You love Him, you take your heart to Him, you’re serious about serving Him and you want to be changed every day into something new. Dang. It’s so cool to see that enthusiasm and passion for the Lord blooming all over the world. For some of you, your walk with Jesus is the best, sweetest and truest thing in your life and when it comes to loving Him, you are going at it with all you’ve got!

If I were going to tell you one thing, it would be this: Don’t quit! Don’t pause! Don’t let up!

Things are going to get hard. They are going to get confusing. You will walk into some absolute messes and even cause your fair share of disasters, but whatever you do, keep holding on to Him! Keep loving Jesus. Keep pouring out your heart to Him in prayer. Keep running to meet with Him in the Scriptures. Don’t relax even a little bit on that spiritual passion! Do whatever it takes to keep your heart running after His.  

I can tell you from experience that if you hang in there, hold on and just keep walking, you will make it through to the other side. You will get to the end of this problem or catastrophe. You will eventually see some part of what God is up to in bringing you through what you’re enduring. Hang in there. You’re not at the end, and making it to the end is worth it!

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” - Galatians 6:9

Seeds

CCC Oak Ridge

Sometimes you probably look at the people around you and wonder, “When are they ever going to get it together?” I bet it sometimes feels like the people in your world will never change and that you’re going to be putting up with this mess of a person for the rest of your life, but I want you to slow down for just a minute and remember one very important thing: God is at work.

In Mark 4, Jesus says that the Kingdom of God is like a farmer planting seeds. Jesus said that those tiny, little seeds grow, though no one knows how and most people don’t even see it happen.

That’s the way God works in people’s hearts. We don’t know what words to say to get the job done. We don’t know which situations are going to really bring change in their lives. We don’t even really recognize the growth or know what it is we’re looking at when it happens. Lots of times, people grow more slowly than we hoped they would or in ways we don’t expect. The point is, God is the One growing them. He is the One who sends the sun and rain. He made the seed and He knows what it takes to bring the plant to harvest. He is at work and He will get the yield He is expecting. After all, He’s watering and tending you as well. Trust in God, and you will be able to relax, slow down and believe in the seeds just as much as you believe in the fully-grown plants.

It's The Whole Thing

CCC Oak Ridge

The single most important thing you can do today is to get alone with Jesus and get your heart to a place where you are in love with Him. Why is that? 

I guess if you asked most people, they would say that spending time with the Lord is what fuels you to be able to serve other people. They would say that spending time with Jesus in His word is what prepares you for all the difficulties you might face when you try to reach out and love people. They might say that getting alone with Jesus is how you get your message that you are going to share with the people who need Him so desperately. 

Here’s the thing: All those reasons are good and true. You do need fuel for your life and ministry. You do need the guidance and encouragement of the Word to get you ready for what you’re going to face and you do need the teachings and stories of Scripture if you’re going to share Jesus with people, but even though those reasons are good and true, they aren’t the most important reason. 

The most important reason that you need for spending time with Jesus today, right now, where you grow more in your love for Him is simply that loving Him is the whole point of everything. Your love for Jesus is the story you have to tell. Your love for Jesus is the fuel you need for life and missions. Your love for Jesus is your message to a lost and broken world. People need Him. They need to see someone who loves Him and depends on Him and is happy to know Him. People need you to reach out and be prepared and have a story to tell, but more than that, people simply need you to love Him. Loving Jesus doesn’t get you ready for life. Loving Jesus is the point of life.

The Best Word Ever

CCC Oak Ridge

What if there was one little word that wrapped up everything you wanted to be true about God? What if you could make a wish list of all the things you would want God to feel about you and then squish them all, simultaneously down into one little word? If that word existed, wouldn’t you want it to be true and wouldn’t you want that word to be all over the place in the Bible, showing up hundreds of times?

Well, that little word does exist and it’s everywhere! The old Hebrew word is “hesed,” (although, to say it the right way, you need to sound like you’re hocking a loogie) and the weird thing is, that little word is so completely loaded with meaning, that we’ve never really been able to translate it into our language. The first dude who translated the Bible into English invented the word, “lovingkindness” to try to wrap it all up, but that didn’t really get it done. That little word, “hesed” means so much! 

Okay, take this list of words and mash them all up into one, bursting, overwhelming emotion from the heart of God toward you: 

Love

Commitment

Kindness

Loyalty

Mercy

Devotion

Promise

Affection

Protection

Favor

Goodness

Unchangingness

That’s what “hesed” means! All of those things at the same time, smashed down, shaken together and running over! The Bible says that word over 240 times! God loves you! He’s devoted to you! He’s never going to change His mind about you and He has promised to feel this way and He’s good and kind and He really, really likes you! Wow. 

“Because Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You.” - Psalm 63:3

Go Find HIm

CCC Oak Ridge

Read this list of questions slowly. Take them in. Let them marinate. 

Are you sad today? Are you frustrated with where your life is? Is there anything you’re worried about or afraid to face? Are you confused about the things that have happened to you lately? Is your heart heavy with the weight of something you did that you wish you hadn’t done? Are you just really tired of people right now? Are you feeling empty (even though you hate feeling that way)? 

Whatever you’re feeling, there’s a place you can go. There’s a place you take all of those emotions and leave them. There’s Someone who cares about you who always has time to listen. There’s Someone waiting who wants to hear you out, cry with you and comfort you. There’s Someone who’s always ready to forgive you. There’s a place you can go if you need acceptance, love, peace and wisdom. There’s Someone who wants you to know that you’re never alone.

If you want to find Him, He’ll gladly spend the whole day with you. You can find Him in the middle of a crowded room, ready to save the day when no one is looking. You can find Him at night, if you want to be left alone. You can find Him offering Living Water to satisfy the thirsty. He heals people don’t know they’re ready and provides more than the hungry can eat. He’s the One who said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Go find Him. Open the book and ask Him to meet you. Tell Him you need love. Tell Him you need help. Tell Him you want to know Him. He’s right here. Go ahead. Find Him.

1 Corinthians 13 - Love Feels Good About You

CCC Oak Ridge

What Is Love?

In 1 Corinthians 13, the Apostle Paul says that there is only one stat that ultimately matters in your walk with God - one thing that that truly tells the world who you are, and that is your love (or lack thereof). The real question is, how do I grow in love? What does love look like? What does love do, and what does it not do? What is love?

12.5 Love Feels Good About You

Lots of Christian people are trigger happy to demonize emotions. In other words, they don’t want you to put a whole lot of stock in the way you feel. And look, to a certain degree, I totally understand that. I mean, feelings can change so fast, and they can be affected by just about anything, including (but not limited to) the amount of sleep you get, the state of your thyroid, how comfortable your clothes are and how much fast food you’ve been eating. Emotions can come in unannounced, wreck the whole house and then burn off and leave completely without ever bothering to explain who invited them or where they got the key. 

So, as Christians, we don’t want to base our entire walk around the way we feel, but that doesn’t mean emotions aren’t important. We don’t want to steer and navigate every piece of our Christian experience from our heart, but to ignore our hearts altogether would be a grave mistake. After all, God made our hearts and appeals to us on the basis of love. He wants to woo us into a relationship with Him and He wants us to feel that relationship deeply. In fact, almost all of the prayers that Paul writes out in his letters in the New Testament are prayers about the heart - prayers that we would feel the right things more; such as peace, joy, love and hope. 

Sometimes Christians say that love is not emotion but an action, and that’s kinda silly. I know it sounds like a really Christian thing to say, and certainly real love that comes from God has all kinds of action in it, but who in the world wants anything to do with a love that doesn’t feel like love? The Apostle Peter says we should “love one another deeply from the heart.” -- anyone who reads that and says love isn’t an emotion needs to stop talking for a few minutes and read it again. Of course love is emotional! Who wants to live in a world where love is simply action without feeling? Do machines love? Love is emotional and it is also active. It’s both, but make sure it’s both and not just one.

In verse 7 of 1 Corinthians 13, Paul says that love “always hopes.” To me, this is where Paul’s definition of love really gets the heart involved. Hope is an emotional word. Hope feels good about something, even if it can’t be seen. The word Paul wrote is also translated 'expectation' and has the idea of crossing your fingers with longing for this thing. We’ve already looked at how love believes all things and rejoices with the truth. In other words, when I love people, I see true things about them. I see God at work in them. This next word, ‘hope’ is taking those ideas deeper. To me, when Paul says, “love always hopes” it’s as though he’s saying, “I see God at work in this person, and what’s more I want to see them that way. I feel love for them. My heart doesn’t want them to fail and fall, but to make it and change. It’s not just that I believe God is going to make your story something awesome someday, but I actually feel that way about you. I want you to make it through. 

Romans 8:28 says that we know God is working everything together for our best. Love believes that’s true even when it looks otherwise; but love goes even farther. Love feels that it’s true. Love wants it to be true. Love is pulling for you. 

Right Now

CCC Oak Ridge

Folks are always asking, “How can I know God’s will for my life?” but they don’t always want the answer. what I mean is, when most people ask that question, they are trying to figure out the roadmap or grand scheme of the rest of their entire life. They want God or the Bible (or even me for some reason) to tell them exactly where they should go to college, what they should major in, who they will date and marry, how many kids they’ll have, what city they will live in and so on and so on. The problem is that God rarely tells people the answers to those questions.

Now, I am not saying God doesn’t care about those things and doesn’t have a will for your life as far as your future, because He does. Psalm 139 says that He knows all the days of your life. He knows exactly why He put you here and what He wants you to do, but He doesn’t usually give us a whole lot of insight into what the far future holds. 

When the Bible talks about knowing God’s will for your life, it’s not about what’s coming decades down the road, but rather the next step you’ll take. Understanding God’s will for you has more to do with this moment you’re living in. It’s about the net few minutes. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Do not worry about to tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.” 

What if you took that literally? What if you just decided that you were going to take Jesus at His word on this particular point and just refuse to worry or stress or panic about anything that is farther away than the next 12 hours? People would think you are crazy, but who cares! If Jesus says, “I’ve got your future, leave that to me. You just keep your eyes on this moment” then that’s the smartest and most sane thing to do.

No one knows what the future holds, but if you ask Him, God will make clear to you what He wants from you in this moment that’s right in front of you. The command of Jesus is always “Follow me.” and that command is always about this moment, right now.

It's Really True (Yes, Even For You)

CCC Oak Ridge

Quick question: When was the last time you read the story of the Prodigal Son?

Another question: When was the last time you thought about what that story means for you? 

Okay seriously, last question: How do you think God sees you when you sin? 

Yesterday, I read Luke 15 for the first time in a long while and I don’t think I’ll ever get over what happens there. Jesus says that this son who ran away and wasted his life on selfishness and sin decided to come home to his dad, thinking that he would have to talk his dad into giving him a job as a hired servant. Instead, we find out that the dad has been waiting on the front porch every day, straining his eyes, hoping and longing for his boy to come home. When he sees the tattered remains of his son on the horizon, the old man leaps off the porch, throws his arms in the air, shouts for joy and then races to his long lost boy. The story explodes off the page as the dad falls on his son, hugging and kissing him and then throwing the biggest party ever. Wow. 

But what about you? I mean, when you sin and fall and waste a day on your own selfish desires and attitudes and then come to your senses, how do you think God feels about you? Do you think He’s probably disappointed? Do you think He’s angry? Do you think He might take you back, but first you have to demonstrate some real, heartfelt sorrow?

Remember this dad in Jesus’s parable! He didn’t even let his son finish the “I’m sorry” speech! He tackled him with grace! He overwhelmed him with love! He swept his son up in his own pure joy. I know you probably messed up today, but dang, God’s not mad at you. In fact, He’s waiting on the porch. He’s straining His eyes, looking out at the horizon, longing to see you come back home. Yes, even you. It’s really true. Go on home and find out for yourself.

Get Better at Fighting in 2013

CCC Oak Ridge

Welcome to the new year. Guess what? Every single day, in every situation you face, you have an enemy who wants to mess with your mind, keep you discouraged, doubting, confused and upset. There are invisible forces arrayed against you who want to take you out and they will be facing you down every day, all the time. They don’t take a day off and they don’t take naps. 

Your enemies will lie to you about yourself. They will lie to you about Jesus. They will lie to you about what that look on that person’s face meant when you said that one thing. They will do anything it takes to get you away from Jesus. 

I know that sounds like really bad news, but it’s not. It’s actually great news, and here’s why: The enemy of your soul is always giving away his position.

Here’s what that means: If you know that the devil is always lying to you in order to mess with your faith and make you discouraged, confused, angry, depressed and doubting Jesus’ love, then whenever you feel those things, you know you’re being lied to! (If that didn’t make sense, go back and read this paragraph again)

When you feel the way the enemy wants you to feel, you know he’s around there somewhere, spitting out his ridiculous lies. Now, all you have to do is find the lie, get some truth to fight it and ask the Lord to help you believe what’s true. 

That’s what spiritual warfare is really all about. Paul said that we have spiritual weapons that are powerful for demolishing strongholds and every pretention (lie) that sets itself up agains the knowledge of God, so we take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ. (2 Cor 10) 

This doesn’t mean all your problems will immediately disappear, but it does mean that you don’t have to take all those negative emotions lying down. You are going to face a fight every day this year. Don’t cower. Stand up and fight. Recognize when you’re being lied to and ask Jesus to come down here and help you. He loves to fight His enemies and He absolutely loves you. Go get ‘em.

What You Have to Offer

CCC Oak Ridge

What is the best thing you bring into the Kingdom of God? Is it your talent? Is it your mind? What is the thing you can uniquely offer God as He is turning this world upside down? Is it your background or your experience? What is the thing in you God is most eager to put to use? Is it your knowledge or your courage? 

Nah. It’s none of those things. You may have tons of distinctive and amazing things to offer and I’m sure God has plans for all of the things that make you the unique person you are. I know He made you on purpose with certain gifts and qualities only you have, and every single one of those things is important, but none of those things are the best thing you have to offer God.

The very best and most important thing you have to offer is your need. I know that sounds weird, but it’s true. The thing God most wants from you is your weakness, your inability and your dependence on Him. He wants to turn the world upside down and He wants to do it by empowering the powerless and strengthening the weak. God wants the world to know that you don’t have to be beautiful, talented, powerful or smart to have a life that means something. God wants the world to know that He is the one changing the world and there’s no better way to show that than to offer Him your need.

You’re Not A Pro Athlete, And That’s A Good Thing

CCC Oak Ridge

Most unhappy Christians are not having a good time because they are trying too hard. Actually, let me re-phrase that: They’re not unhappy because they’re trying too hard; they’re unhappy because they are trying at all. 

Every religion in the world can be understood when you realize that it is exactly like athletics. The goal of every single child who kicks a soccer ball for the first time is to be Christiano Ronaldo. Every kid who dribbles a basketball wants to be Michael Jordan. Most of these kids don’t even play a sport in their schools. Some give up trying before they’ve begun. For the athlete, every fundamental drill, every programmed workout and every hour of film they watch on an opponent is to get better and better so that they can reach the very highest level of competition. You’re a beginner, then you get better and better until you go pro. One you go pro, you try to become a hall-of-famer.

That’s what every single religion in the world is like. You work hard at improving yourself, following rules, becoming more and more holy or enlightened or whatever until you are good enough to get into heaven or reach nirvana or whatever. That’s every single religion in the world... except one.

Knowing Jesus is not like becoming a pro athlete. Knowing Jesus is like being adopted. You were alone, abandoned and helpless, but Someone loved you when you didn’t think you had any hope. Someone paid a cost to make you His very own. Someone came and got you and declared you forever His very own child. When you get adopted, you aren’t barely His child and then you get better and better. No, when you are adopted, you are immediately and completely family. You are loved, accepted, wanted, protected and a rightful heir of all your Father has or is. You aren’t an athlete. You have been adopted. Stop trying to get better and just enjoy your Dad. 

It's Still True! He's Waiting For You!

CCC Oak Ridge

Wanna know what one of your biggest problems is? (Now hold up, don’t get offended - it’s one of my biggest problem, too) Here it is: One of your very biggest problems is that you think God is like you. We all pretty much think God is like we are. We think He gets tired of us just like we get tired of the folks in our lives who drive us crazy. we think He gets frustrated when we do the same things over and over again. We think He reaches His limit on showing us mercy and forgiving us just like we do with the people in our lives. 

Here’s the thing: He’s not like us. 

That’s what the Bible means when it says that God is “Holy.” That word, ‘holy’ just means “different.” God is not like we are, and that is a very important thing to remember. He never gets tired of you. He never gets frustrated. He is not surprised by your sin (He already knows everything you’re ever going to do before you even think of doing it and He still decided to send Jesus for you!) He’s holy. He’s different. 

Do you realize what this means?! It means that when you read Lamentations 3:21-22 where it says, “His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” - you can know that is absolutely, 100% true for you today! No matter what you did yesterday, you woke up today in a world where His mercies are brand new! You woke up to a compassionate, forgiving Lord who is ready, willing and totally longing for you to come home and hang out with Him right now! So, what are you waiting for? Go now!!

Greater Than Emotions

CCC Oak Ridge

Sometimes you feel bad about yourself and you don’t even know why, right? Sometimes you feel a nagging sense of guilt or depression or shame and you can’t even point to a specific reason or sin that you did, right? Every now and then, your spirit just feels off. You don’t know what you did. You don’t know what brought this on, but you’re just in a funk. 

What are you supposed to do in a time like that? 

Well, the problem with most folks is that when they realize they’re in that place, they start to really examine themselves to try to find the cause. They look back over their week to see if they did something to deserve it. They look inside their own heart to try and find the messed up piece of the puzzle, but it doesn’t help. In fact, most folks pretty much wind up judging themselves, thinking they suck and then feel worse because of it.

1 John 3 says that we “set our hearts at rest in His presence whenever our hearts condemn us, for God is greater than our hearts and He knows everything.” - You see, sometimes you are going to be in a funk, and it’s okay. There may not really be a reason. It may just be the enemy messing with you - trying to make you feel guilty and confused and downhearted for absolutely no reason at all. At times like that, it’s good to remember the simple stuff:

God loves me. He knows everything about me and has forgiven me totally and accepted me completely. I am at peace with God because of Jesus. I don’t have to feel guilty. I don’t have to be ashamed of myself. I don’t have to be afraid. I am loved.

For Those Feeling Overwhelmed Today

CCC Oak Ridge

Let’s take a minute and mentally time travel to the point where you are in heaven. Knowing what you know about heaven, what will be true about your spiritual state there? Go ahead, think about it...

You’ll be totally aware of the way God relentlessly loves you and completely accepts you, smiling over your life and heart forever and ever. You’ll be totally fearless of anything ever having the power to separate you from God because you’ll be in His very presence, surrounded by His love. You will be untouchable by any of your enemies forever and ever, totally protected by the power and authority of God. You will be filled with joy and peace without interruption for all eternity... and on and on.

What if you took half of the time you spend underneath your problems and just made a list of every amazing spiritual truth that will be a fact of your life in heaven? List things that won’t matter anymore and things that won’t bother you anymore. Let’s say you did that - let’s say you made that list. What then?

Well, guess what? In Ephesians 1:3 Paul says, “He has blessed us in the heavenly realms with ever spiritual blessing in Christ.”

In other words, that list is already true! Every spiritual blessing of heaven is already yours right now! We already have that list - we just need to open up our arms and receive it. Go get it. Tell Jesus you want all that joy and peace and carefree love right now. Ask Him to give it to you!

Always Remembering The Cross

CCC Oak Ridge

Everything you need to make it through this day is found in the truth of the cross of Christ. You should wake up remembering the cross. You ought to eat breakfast thanking the Lord for the cross. You should go about your day thinking about the cross, and when troubles come, run straight to the cross. Why?

The cross means Jesus loves you - When you are feeling down on yourself, remember that God left heaven, became a man and gave His life over to torture and death all because He wanted you. He loves you that much.

The cross means you are free - When Jesus died on the cross, He not only paid for your sin, He actually became your sin and crucified all of it. If you have accepted His gift of forgiveness and new life, you are totally and completely clean and righteous in His sight. Guilt and shame don’t stick to you anymore.

The cross means you are never alone - No matter what happens and no matter how bad life gets, you will never be abandoned because Jesus bore the abandonment we deserve. When He was on the cross, He said, “My God, my God, Why have you forsaken me?” - He was rejected so that you will never, ever be rejected, ever.

Everything you need to make it through this day can be found in this statement: “Jesus died for me.” Everything you need to face whatever the devil throws at you can be found in this truth: “Jesus died for me.” 

Rehearse the truths of the cross.

Recite the implications of the cross. 

Remember the cross.

 

Paul said, “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” - 1 Corinthians 2:2

The Most Dangerous Thought

CCC Oak Ridge

There is a certain line of thought that will sneak into your brain and set fire to everything good, reversing the spiritual growth you’ve been working hard for and making you feel terrible about yourself. When this specific type of thinking sneaks in, it’s almost as if it goes over to your spiritual control center and turns down all the audio so that you can’t hear the Lord, you can’t get anything out of Scripture and you start to spiral downward emotionally. All the devil has to do to completely take you off your square and out of the game is just whisper one little idea to you and then your brain and heart do the rest.

So, what is this perilous line of thinking? What is that one thought that will take you out if you let it whisper its way through your heart?

“Look at that person over there... Why do they have it so good when I don’t?”

Comparison. Simple as that. All the devil has to do is ask you one little question: “Why does she get a guy like him? Why does he get all that money? Why do her parents care so much about her when yours are so unkind? Why is he good at everything he tries? Why is she so thin and perfect?” -- man, that one little question starts the ball rolling of discontent, self-doubt, bitterness and eventually hatred. Comparison can make the sweetest person into the most angry, small-minded person who is an emotional train wreck. Comparison will kill your joy, dismantle your love for the Lord and silence the still, small voice of the Lord in your heart. 

So, how do you stop those dangerous thoughts? Well, you just have to freaking stop them. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says “We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” That means you arrest those thoughts. You have to detect them, chase them down and handcuff em. Get them off the streets of your mind and heart. Put them behind bars with no parole. To do that, you have to start to recognize what comparison is doing to you. You have to hate the way it makes you feel. You have to realize that no one else’s life is exactly what it seems and you have to trust Jesus - believing that His plan for you is something beautiful. And then, you have to populate your heart and mind with gratitude. Being thankful to Jesus for the stuff in your life is the best way to combat the poison of comparison. Be thankful for the stuff in your life that you love and then ask Him to strengthen you so that you can even be thankful for the stuff that’s not so good and that you don’t understand. 

After the Resurrection, Jesus told Peter that when he was an old man, people were going to make Peter die a painful death. Peter looked back at John and said, “Lord, what about him?” and Jesus said to Peter, “What’s it to you?” -- Comparison is the joy killer and the spiritual life killer. Let’s let Jesus do what He’s doing in other lives and ours and just learn to be thankful.

Take Heart!

CCC Oak Ridge

One thing I love about the Christian walk is that Jesus doesn’t give you a bunch of sunshine and roses optimism designed to make you feel good that actually has no basis in reality. He doesn’t say to you, “Cheer up! This isn’t really all that bad.” or, “Look on the bright side, this can’t last forever.” or, “At least it can’t get any worse.” In fact, Jesus tells us straight-up that we will have problems and troubles. He doesn’t try to protect our feelings from the truth. He doesn’t lie to make us feel more comfortable or safe.  

What’s more, Jesus tells us that not only will we face problems, but that we’re not even strong to enough to handle them! Jesus doesn’t say, “You’re going to run into some trials today, but you’re so tough and mature that you’ll probably be just fine.” Ha! Jesus tells us we’re going to face hard times and then lets us know in the same breath that we don’t have what it takes to navigate those hard times. I love how honest He is, because it makes me feel better about the fact that I don’t have any earthly idea how to face these things! I’m headed for trouble and I am too weak and unprepared to handle it. What now?! 

That’s where Jesus comes in. See, this is not the kind of religion where someone tells you everything’s fine when it really sucks, and it’s not the kind of deal where someone tells you how truly amazing you are when you’re really struggling quite a bit. It’s the kind of thing where the leader of the deal says, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33