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1Sep
When God is not with me NS

When God is not with me

When God is not with me NS

The loneliness of being alone is a sting that penetrates to the depths of a person’s soul. This kind of loneliness is different from being by yourself. It cannot be solved by simply hanging out with people.

Being lonely is an isolating pain. It is more internal than external. Sometimes people talk about physical coldness that penetrates the body to where you are bone cold.

This kind of physical chilling is similar to the spiritual feeling of loneliness in that it is experienced on the inside. It reminds me of the curse of darkness Moses put on the Egyptians.

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, a darkness to be felt. – Exodus 10:21 (ESV)

Even being in the middle of one hundred people does not bring relational warmth to the lonely soul because loneliness at its root is a spiritual matter. Though there is a physical component to community, there is a deeper truth with the problem of being alone.

On the physical front you associate and enjoy being around people. On the spiritual front it is essential to connect with other spiritual beings at a level that pushes beyond mere superficialities.

Sometimes you will hear people talk about their frustration with others who do not go deep in their relationships. Their complaint focuses on a desire to intersect with another person at the level of the heart. This is a fantastic desire.

We were created for external and internal community. Because we were made in the image of God, there is a longing within us to be like the LORD. God is the original community. Father, Son, and Spirit enjoy an uninterrupted inter-personal relationship within the Trinity.

It made sense after the LORD created Adam to want to bless His creation by giving him a complementary helper (Genesis 2:18). We do not know all the detailed reasons the LORD did this for Adam, but we do know it was not best for him to be without human companionship, whether in marriage or within the human community.

God is with us

Our desire for community is partial affirmation we are made in the image of...

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1Sep
The importance and benefit of God being silent NS

The importance and benefit of God being silent

Ultimately, we have to trust the LORD’s wisdom in all matters of life because life does not function in a formulaic matter. What was true one time, is not true all of the time. The plans we laid made sense to us when we laid them, but the LORD redirects our paths and sometimes His paths lead us (Psalm 23:3) to places we never anticipated.

The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps. – Proverbs 16:9 (ESV)

Human ingenuity and understanding cannot answer all of our questions because we serve an...

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30Aug
Teen Life Lesson Three The world does not care about your self-esteem NS

Teen Life Lesson Three: The world does not care about your self-esteem

Dear Teen,

The world doesn’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something before you feel good about yourself. If you do not learn this lesson, then you will try to feel good about yourself through means that could possibly ensnare you for the rest of your life.

Do not be that teenager with the angry chip on his shoulder because you were treated poorly. I wish I could change your circumstances, but I know I cannot do that for you. I am sorry.

Though it is wrong for you to be hurt so...

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30Aug
Two acceptable conflicts I hope you have in your home NS

Two acceptable conflicts I hope you have in your home

It is impossible for two people to completely agree on everything. If you are married, you know this is true. Two fallen people living in close proximity to each other will always have a few perspectives and preferences that will never be the same. It is unavoidable.

But what about good conflict? Are there some things in which you should never agree? Are there some things worth fighting for? In our family, we have narrowed it down two things in which Lucia and I will never agree. I have no intention of changing and she is pretty much the same...

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29Aug
Three keys to make your small group dynamic NS

Three keys to make your small group dynamic

What do all of these things have in common?

Failure Community Hypocrisy Friendship Lust Envy Reconciliation Confession Anger Grumpiness Disappointment Criticalness Humility Dysfunction Repentance Unity Misunderstanding Prejudice Forgiveness Un-forgiveness Arguments Laughter Embarrassment Jealousy Lying Self-righteousness Compassion Fear Hurtfulness Restoration

There are probably several good answers to the question. I can think of at least two:

  • The list represents our commonality. It is...

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  • 27Aug
    Why it is okay to smoke cigarettes NS

    Why it is okay to smoke cigarettes

    The following is one of the more embarrassing moments in my life. It was around 1988 when I met a young man who was at the end of his rope. Life was not turning out for him the way he had hoped.

  • He had relational problems.
  • He had drug problems.
  • He had employment problems.
  • He had financial problems.
  • He had tattoos and tattered clothes.
  • He had long, disheveled hair.
  • He lived in a trailer park, on the wrong side of town.
  • He had few friends.
  • He did not know Jesus.
  • And he smoked...

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  • 26Aug
    Seven step template for personal change when trouble comes NS

    Seven step template for personal change when trouble comes

    Let’s start here: Are you problem-centered or God-centered? A quick way to analyze this question is by assessing your most common responses to the problems the LORD brings into your life.

    Bud was having a good day. He just came from an extended weekend at the beach with his family. Time well spent is how he put it on Monday morning. He was alive, refreshed, and ready to do battle with the business of the week.

    By Tuesday, our old friend Bud was slumping back into his all too familiar patterns. Rather than being feisty and hope-filled, he...

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    25Aug
    How do you want to suffer With or without God NS

    How do you want to suffer? With or without God?

    All people born in Adam have no choice about personal suffering (Genesis 2:16-17). That is the bad news. The good news is we can choose whether we want to experience our suffering with or without God.

    It is so easy to forget how suffering comes with the human package–a consequence of the fall of Adam (Philippians 1:29; 1 Peter 2:21). It is even easier to forget how the LORD wants to walk with us through our suffering.

    Not knowing God is in our problems certainly adds to the complexity of the...

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    24Aug
    Three essential things to know when life does not make sense NS

    Three essential things to know when life does not make sense

    The number one relationship in your life is God, so what you think about Him is the most important thing to take up your brain space. There are no thoughts higher than our un-transcend-able, infinite, all-powerful God.

    He is our most effective help when trouble comes into our lives (Psalm 46:1), but if our thoughts about Him are insufficient, then the help we receive from Him will be insufficient.

    This makes assessing your God thoughts one of the most important things you can do. The good news is we can assess our thoughts about God at...

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    23Aug
    Can you be quiet NS

    Can you be quiet? – Ten keys to noise reduction

    A few years ago I was speaking with a friend who had a troubled conscience. She did not tell me she had a troubled conscience, but after spending time with her, it became apparent she had a lot of anxiety in her soul.

    She was bitter, angry, often frustrated, unforgiving, and always right. As long as I did not press into her in any meaningful way that remotely suggested there was something wrong with her, we were okay.

    During one of our stronger relational moments I had the opportunity to ask her one of my out of the blue questions. I asked if she ever drove home in...

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