Revive Us

I need revival.

It can be easy to let my self-interest, my comfort, my petty concerns, my pride, and my mess distract me from intentionally and whole-heartedly joining God’s work in my life and through my life.  I desire to keep on being filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph.5:18) instead of being filled with my worries and trivial pursuits. I need revival.

Years ago I came across this passage that is used a lot when talking about revival. It is an incredible invitation to renewed life with God.

2 Chronicles 7:14

“Then if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.”

A few reflections and questions as I read through this verse:

  • MY people / MY name : Does renewed life begin when we first realize that our identity is found in God and not in ourselves or circumstances?  Do I fully embrace that my life is not merely my life, but God’s life?
  • Humble / Pray / Seek / Turn : Does renewed life begin when we recognize our own pride, self-dependency, and sin? Do I hate the sin and rebellion in my life or do I tolerate it? Do I take action and change my life’s direction or do I continue to go my own way? Do my humble confessions lead to changed living?
  • Hear / Forgive / Restore : God reveals His heart of grace, mercy, forgiveness, and restoration.  Am I amazed and changed by God’s grace, and love, or do I take it for-granted?  Have I experienced God’s renewed life personally?

I pray that I would experience revival and renewed life and that my community would experience this healing as well.

Reading this passage fills me with hope of renewed life and it inspires me to embrace God’s invitation to humbly pursue Him and His way. How about you?

Audio Devos – – More on the Way!

As a church family we have had times in which we’ve encouraged everyone to read a particular section of the Bible together. I think that a community engaging God’s Word together in sync can be a powerful experience.  However, I’ve had a number of people who have told me that they desire to engage the Bible, but they despise reading and struggle to stay focused and understand what is going on in the text.

These conversations led our teaching team to develop audio devotions. For the past couple years we have done audio devotionals through a book of the Bible.  In 2015 we walked with Jesus through the book of Luke in the New Testament. This is the story of Jesus and his life, death and resurrection.  In the first part of 2016, we walked with the Spirit through the book of Acts in the New Testament. This is the story of the first followers of Jesus (the church) as they were sent out into the world to share the good news of Jesus.  These audio devotions were well received and hundreds of people regularly listened and went through a book of the Bible together.

The basics of the audio devotional are: 

  • We break a book of the Bible into sections to read and reflect on each day.
  • We have a variety of Watermarkers who participate in putting together these audio devotionals.
  • Each devotional includes a reading of the section of Scripture that day, some comments to better understand what is going on, a personal reflection on the impact of the text, and a closing prayer. They are typically around 10 min (although I have been known to stretch it to 13 min…. sorry).
  • Monday-Friday we upload a new devotional for that day and it can be downloaded from a variety of sources.

The benefits of the audio devotional have been:

  • People, who are not big into reading, are learning the story of the Bible.
  • We are all on the same page about what we are reflecting on. There is a sense of unity.
  • Our church family’s vision and values can spring forth from different moments in the text.
  • It provides people an opportunity to grow in studying the text and teaching it.
  • The additional background helps people, new to the Bible, understand more of the text.

Anyways, I have really enjoyed helping put these audio devotions together. They have been incredibly impacting for me personally.  We’ve had a lot of people ask us to do more.  So, we decided to go through the book of Nehemiah with audio devotions this Summer.  We are calling it, “Building with God through Nehemiah.” We will start it Monday, July 4th.

BWGTN_podcastWhy Nehemiah?

  • We wanted to do an Old Testament book. We’ve done a lot of New Testament study lately and decided going through an Old Testament book would be beneficial.
  • Nehemiah is a book that covers helpful themes that apply to our faith family. It deals with change, courage, leadership, dealing with challenging people, and pursuing a mission. Our church family is in the process of preparing for launching a new site and this text will be helpful in this time of transition.
  • Nehemiah is a bit shorter and we can walk through it quickly for part of the Summer. We will skim through some long lists of names that are difficult to pronounce. 🙂

S0, I encourage you to subscribe to the audio devotional podcasts on our website or with your podcast application. Check these options out HERE.

Heart of Obedience

Have you ever heard someone say, “delayed obedience is disobedience”?  I think I found the story it is taken from…

I was reading the book of Deuteronomy today and came across a part of Israel’s story that I haven’t paid much attention to in the past.

Let me briefly set it up…

God powerfully freed the people of Israel from their slavery and oppression in Egypt. He provided for them, protected them, and personally guided them to the land He promised them. Before they entered the promised land, the people sent spies to check it out and see what they were up against (this turned out to be a bad move). The spies returned filled with fear (except for two faith-filled spies) and the people lost heart and started to complain and consider going back into their slavery in Egypt.

God had clearly given the people a command to obey and the encouragement to act.

We see this in Deuteronomy 1:21

“See, the Lord your God has given you the land. Go up and take possession of it as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, told you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” 

But, instead of choosing obedience and trusting God, they chose disobedience and trusting the reports of some of the spies. They listened to the wrong voices.

So God explained that their consequence would be to live out their days in the wilderness and never enter the land He promised them. The next generation of Israel would enter the land and not the generation that disobeyed. Then God told them to get moving back into the wilderness.

This is where I typically end the story when I think about it and tell it.  But, there is an interesting bit in this story that can be missed.

The people of Israel were heartbroken and recognized their rebellion. But instead of following God’s new command to go back into the wilderness, they decide that they would now enter the land. God warned them to not go into the land to fight because He would not be with them. But, again they did not listen to God and they gathered people and weapons and marched forward. They met opposition and were soundly defeated and retreated.

In the past, I somehow missed the part in the story where the people try to take the land on their own and are defeated.

This story made me think about obedience and the heart behind it.

God told them to enter the land. They delayed the obedience and sent out spies to check it out and decided to not go in.

God explained their consequence. They recognized their sin.

God told them to enter the wilderness. They disobeyed and decided to now enter the land.

But, it was too late. They had revealed their heart, their lack of trust in God, and their pride. I find it fascinating that the people chose to disobey God’s clear guidance a second time immediately after recognizing their failure.

Did they think they could avoid the consequences of their disobedience by entering the land?

Did they think they could do it without God?

I’m reflecting today on how I respond to the the commands and guidance of God.

  • Am I quick to obey because God can be trusted and He is good? Or do I delay obedience out of fear, pride, or looking for alternatives?
  • Am I obeying to avoid consequences and prove something? Or do I joyfully obey to embrace God’s way of life and respond to His love?
  • Am I learning from my mistakes and failures?  Or do I continue to march headlong into disobedience time after time?

(The story is found in Numbers 14 & a retelling in Deuteronomy 1)