Skimming the Surface

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by Calven Celliers

If you were to take a quick inventory of your life right now, where would you say your relationship is with God? Is it close or distant? Is it strong or strained? Are you truly seeking to grow deeper in your walk with the Lord, or are you just skimming the surface? Only you know the answer to those questions. Our current culture is so busy we can become experts at faking it. We can look like we’re going to the depths when, in fact, we’re just skating. So you must answer for yourself. Are you seeking to really know God? Or are you satisfied with just attending a lot of religious meetings, reading a few religious books, and learning all the religious-sounding language.

The word “deep” in Webster’s Dictionary means “extending far below the surface, descending far downward, profound, opposed to shallow, piercing a great way, not superficial or obvious, hidden, secret, heartfelt, intricate.” God wants to take us far below the surface in our relationship with Himself, and I don’t doubt for a second that you want the exact same thing. But here’s the thing, we need to be intentional about fighting for time spent with God on a daily basis. God longs to spend time with us. Yet, the devil is constantly cooking up ways for us to get further away from our heavenly Father. In his first epistle Peter warns us saying, Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith…” (1 Peter 5:8 – 9NLT

So be on guard! Protect your time with God against the enemy’s wicked schemes. Time spent with God should not be compromised. It’s so important to our spiritual growth and enduring strength and faith.  That’s why today, as you read this post, I want you to seriously consider if you’re intentionally seeking to invest in and deepen your relationship with God, or are you satisfied with just skimming the surface?

I know you’re all busy. Despite being in lockdown, I’ve heard many of you comment that you’ve never been busier. This reminds me of the many conversations I’ve had with people who have retired and wonder where they ever had the time to work.  But don’t forget this truth, nothing is impossible with God! It just takes determination, persistence, intentionality, action, and passionate devotion. I want to encourage you to not let another day go by without pressing in and drawing closer to God. Fight for that time. Fight the distractions. Fight for balance. Make time to go deeper. Get your priorities straight! Sorry to be so blunt, but there is frankly nothing more important than your personal relationship with God.

The prophet Isaiah once wrote,

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55: 8 & 9NIV)

Clearly our Lord operates in realms far beyond our ability to comprehend, but He longs for us to explore what is beyond the obvious. Some of His best truths, like priceless treasures, are hidden in depths most people never take the time to search out. What a loss! Patiently He waits to reveal insights and dimensions of truth to those who care enough to probe, to examine, to ponder. It takes time alone with Him and His Word before we can expect our spiritual strength to grow. It takes time spent with God to grow deep.  

There is nothing quite like depth to make us dissatisfied with superficial, shallow things. Once we’ve delved below the surface and tasted of the marvels and mysteries of the deep, we realize the absolute value of plumbing those depths. Our Heavenly Father, who holds the world in His hands, invites us to go deeper rather than find contentment in surface matters.

And on that note, I’ll swiftly wrap up todays blog post, so that you can go and spend more time with Jesus.

Enjoy!

Calven

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Embracing Deeper Truths

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by Graham Mol

There is a psalm written by King David that seems at odds with itself. There seem to be two truths here. One, a feeling of abandonment by God on the one side and the other a trust in God’s unfailing love and goodness…

Psalm 13

Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever?
    How long will you look the other way?
How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul,
    with sorrow in my heart every day?
    How long will my enemy have the upper hand?

Turn and answer me, O Lord my God!
    Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die.
Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him!”
    Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall.

But I trust in your unfailing love.
    I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
I will sing to the Lord
    because he is good to me.

This apparent paradox is explained really well by pastor Karl Vaters who has this to say about how many of us are feeling during this turbulent and traumatic time in our lives:

There are always two sets of truths running parallel in our lives – especially at a time like this.

Immediate truths: I feel confused, hurt, angry, or fearful right now.

Deeper truths: I know that God is greater than my current feelings and I have faith that he’ll get us through.

Both are true.

Although the immediate truths are more obvious and visceral, the deeper truths are more real. We need to acknowledge the immediate truths, but embrace the deeper truths.

“I’m feeling defeated right now, but I know God is able.”

“My mind is in confusion, but my heart will follow Jesus.”

“This feels scary, but greater is he who is in us than he who is in the world.”
 
I find Karl’s observation to be really helpful in navigating the uncertainty and widely ranging and changing emotions that many of us are experiencing. Although we know that God is with us and will never fail us, we still have times of doubt and fear. It’s not helpful to deny those feelings. They are real. But it is also not helpful to allow those more immediate feelings to make us forget the deeper truths of God’s love and faithfulness despite our circumstances. And so I am encouraging myself, and I would encourage you to embrace the deeper truths. To walk by faith and not by sight and to trust in the Lord, to find assurance in his unfailing love and faithfulness.
 
 
God Bless
Graham

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Live the life you love… Love the life you live

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When you’ve journeyed closely with enough people through life, the way I have, you soon come to realize that unexpected bumps in life, causing our plans to derail and our hopes to shatter, are really par for the course.

Maybe you had a dream crushed after years of pursuing it. Perhaps you stayed at a job for years building your retirement fund, only for the company to go bankrupt and take your life savings with it. Perhaps you’ve experienced the heartbreak of infertility when you planned on having a full house. Maybe you had a loved one die far too soon, leaving you feeling alone and lost. Maybe you were struck with an illness that limits your abilities and independence. Or by now, you thought you’d be married but are still single, or maybe you invested in a marriage that ended in divorce.

Maybe nothing earth-shattering has happened at all, and life is just the same as it has always been. But if you’re perfectly honest with yourself the life you’re living isn’t the one you expected, much less the one you wanted. Same ol’ circumstances, different day. And therein lies the problem: Have you ever thought that surely there has to be more to life than this? Maybe you think loving the life you have is impossible unless circumstances change.

Well here’s another way of looking at things. God can help us accept that although we can’t change the circumstances we sometimes find ourselves in, we can change how we react to them.

We have been given one life to live — this life — and we can either continue to allow adversities to have power over our happiness, or we can embrace God’s promise for abundant life and make it a reality. The choice is yours!

In the Gospel of John, Jesus explains that there’s a thief who seeks to steal, kill and destroy us. But He continues by declaring that He came to earth so we could not only live life but live it abundantly despite the thief’s intentions –

10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” (John 10:10NLT)

Here we see the contrast between the destroyer of happiness and the Giver of joy.

Jesus was telling us that He is the answer to experiencing the best life possible despite what life throws at us. He is what gives our lives meaning and joy. Choosing to learn to love my life, even if it isn’t always the life I imagined, is the best choice I can make. Granted it isn’t always easy, but as we intentionally choose to let Jesus be the source of our joy, even in the midst of less-than-joyful circumstances, our perspective and feelings change for the better. You can live a rich and satisfying life based in Christ alone or let life pass you by as you allow problems, disappointments or drudgery to steal your zest for living.

Loving life is a choice, not a by-product of everything going your way. Our peace, joy, contentment, fulfillment and overall happiness depend on the choice we make.

Live the life you love, by loving the life you live.

 

Yours,

Calven

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Blessed

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Guest Post

Blessed

(based on Matt 5 v 3-16)

Humble men are truly blessed
The Kingdom of Heaven is theirs
Those who mourn are also blessed
Cause deep comfort will be theirs

The meek and lowly are fortunate
The whole world belongs to them
Those who seek justice and right
Satisfaction will be known by them

Blessed are the merciful and kind
They shall know great mercy
Blessed are those with hearts refined
God’s face they will surely see

Blessed are those who strive for peace
They’ll be called God’s children
And those persecuted on their knees
Will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven

When you’re slandered and maligned
Be delighted because I live in you
Your heavenly reward is being refined
Ancient prophets were persecuted too

You’re the seasoning of the earth
Which makes it tolerable to “eat”
But if you lose your spicy worth
You will be trampled under feet

You are the world’s light on a hill
Shining in the darkness for all to see
Don’t hide, let it shine strong and still
Let your goodness glow for all to see

O heavenly Father we praise you
Halleluyah.. we praise you

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