I have resisted writing about my relationship with Katie, my girlfriend, partly because she sometimes reads my posts and I don’t want to embarrass her, but also because the relationship is new and I’m still learning a lot. However, I have learned so much from dating her I can’t pass up an opportunity for content to write here 😉
Being in a relationship is like having a giant magnifying glass looking at my character. Before I met Katie, I thought I was a great Christian guy because I diligently went to church to serve, read my bible, and prayed often. However, when I started going out with her, I quickly started to see gaps in my character that needed immediate attention. The list is too long to cover here, but the first area I observed needing improvement was my relationship with my family. I saw how Katie loved and cared for her family, even though they let her down at times. Seeing this forgiveness and love challenged me. After being hurt by my family, I isolated myself and was living away from them with minimal interaction. I preferred to not talk about them, and when asked, would generally bring up the bad things that happened. I understand that no one has a perfect family, but my attitude toward my family was not right. Seeing how forgiveness brought healing and restored relationships in Katie’s family challenged me to forgive my family too and invite them back into my life. I started organising times to see them and enjoy each other’s company.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 says ‘If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.‘
As it turns out, there is a lot more to being a “good Christian guy” then simply going to church and reading the Bible. Without showing love, I had nothing. When I did change my tune, I was amazed at how fast relationships were strengthened and renewed. Have you had difficulty in family relationships? What have you done to restore those relationships? Let me know by commenting below 🙂
Today I have been challenged by the scripture found in Isaiah 53:1-6 ‘Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.‘
Jesus spent His time on earth not for Himself, but sinners. He was despised and hated during His ministry. What hit me hard was how the Son of God came to earth and was misunderstood. If God’s own Son wasn’t liked and didn’t care to be liked, why am I so concerned with what other people think of me?
If I am to live for God and not myself, I will need to re-focus myself on Him. It seems so easy to get caught up in what the world defines as success, but to put that aside and look like a fool may be necessary to obey God. How far will you go to pursue God rather than acceptance of other people? This challenges me, because often my motives aren’t right. I love social media because it’s a platform that can be used to get even more acceptance from friends. Does a follower of Christ even need social media? I deleted Instagram because I do not have the self-control to use it in a healthy way. I have kept a Facebook account, but I wonder if I should delete that too. In any case, I will be judging my motives very closely the next few days. I want to be in the pursuit of God, not the pursuit of acceptance from people.
Acts 21:1-4, 7-8 tells the story of Paul travelling through various places and encouraging Christians as he went. Just focusing on the travel, it says ‘After saying farewell to the Ephesian elders, we sailed straight to the island of Cos. The next day we reached Rhodes and then went to Patara. There we boarded a ship sailing for Phoenicia. We …landed at the harbour of Tyre, in Syria, where the ship was to unload its cargo. We went ashore, found the local believers, and stayed with them a week…‘ (Skip verses 5 and 6) ‘The next stop after leaving Tyre was Ptolemais, where we greeted the brothers and sisters and stayed for one day. The next day we went on to Caesarea and stayed at the home of Philip the Evangelist, one of the seven men who had been chosen to distribute food.‘
This story illustrates the passion Paul had for God and the Church. He travelled the world teaching and encouraging believers wherever he went.
The passion Paul had for God and the Church inspires me. However, when it comes to my life, I can so effortlessly get busy with unimportant tasks. I never intend to put God below other things, but it is so easy to find fun and exciting things to fill my day.
Does your life reflect the passion Paul had? Travelling the world is obviously not required to pursue God passionately. Loving God looks different for everyone, but is there an opportunity to bring your passion to a higher level? Do you find yourself ‘too busy’ to spend a meaningful time alone with God each day?
I was at university, on my way to the library after class. ‘Caleb!’ Someone was calling my name. I looked around to see classmate from last year. He was fast-walking toward me with a friend of his. They asked me to join them in the library, and we ended up talking for hours. Later that week, I saw them again. I wanted to study alone because I get more done, but they saw me and were following me. I couldn’t shake them.
Every day provides an opportunity to have an impact on someone’s life. Are you influencing the people around you? Is the effect you have on others easily seen?
1 Peter 2:12 says ‘Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honourable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.‘ Every day you are with people who don’t believe in God, your actions are on display. You can show God to those around you in small, simple ways. Live each day intentionally.
This week God has been talking to me about family. It started when I was talking with a friend about her family. Her family experienced some hardship but didn’t handle it well. As a result, some relationships suffered and today still need attention.
The conversation I had with my friend reminded me of my family. Last year I moved away from family but didn’t make an effort to stay in contact. I wanted to leave them behind as much as possible because of my past (terrible) experiences. However, after some thinking and praying, I believe God wants me to connect with them again.
Have you struggled with your family in the past? Are there relationships you can help mend?
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 says ‘If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.‘
God wants every one of us to love each other the way He loves. This includes family.
I was talking to a friend at church when he started talking about another friend of mine in a negative way. He didn’t respect them at all, saying they were an idiot. I’m sure there was a reason why this friend wasn’t the smartest, but that doesn’t justify putting them down like that! Not only did my friend manage to pull down my friend, but he also lost my trust.
Honesty is critical, but say behind someone’s back what you would say to their face. It may be hard, to be honest in a respectful way when they are wrong, but it is so essential to maintaining trust in relationships. If something is wrong, tell them! The worst thing to do is gossip about them when they are likely to fix their problem if only they were told.
2 Corinthians 8:21 says ‘For we aim at what is honourable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of man.‘ Respect and honesty build trust, one small conversation at a time. Don’t underestimate its power, but instead aim to respect everyone, including God.
Worshipping God is powerful. When I open my heart and worship, every little thing fades into nothing. My perspective changes as I focus all my attention and energy. I can feel every part of me worshipping. As I sing, my words become a prayer. I experience a powerful sensation shoot through my body, often leading to tears falling down my face. This real and raw submission to God gives me more peace than I can describe, more love than I can understand, and the strength to face any situation.
I love worshipping! I have to set a timer on my phone or risk spending hours alone, inevitably making me late for something. The act of worship puts me into a timeless state. I lose all other senses.
John 4:23-24 says ‘But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.‘
As this verse shows, when we worship, we are connecting directly to God. God is seeking worshippers, but unfortunately, in this age, there are so many distractions that take our attention; Worshipping God changes that attention to God and aligns us with Him. If you aren’t feeling connected with God or haven’t experienced this, set aside 2 hours with no distractions, play worship music and listen to the words, making them your prayer. You will not feel the same after! (Ideally, 20+ minutes of daily worship will become a part of every morning.)