If ever there were a true "just as I am" church, if ever there were a community where everybody could bring all their baggage and brokenness with them without neat and tidy happy endings quite yet, if ever there was a group where everyone was loved and no one pretended - we could not make enough room inside the building.
The soul seeks God with its whole being. Because it is desperate to be whole, the soul is God-smitten and God-crazy and God-obsessed. My mind may be obsessed with idols; my will may be enslaved to habits; my body may be consumed with appetites. But my soul will never find rest until it rests in God.
So it goes for those of us who live in a cul-de-sac, where babies are brought home from the hospital and watched over, where hearts stop and feet slip, where we wonder if there is a hidden road that leads somewhere. We believe and we doubt. Believing and doubting share the same inevitability, but they are not equal. They cannot lay the same claim on our allegiance. They do not share the same power. If there are places beyond the cul-de-sac, doubt cannot take us there.
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God is never a God of discouragement. When you have a discouraging spirit or train of thought in your mind, you can be sure it is not from God. He sometimes brings pain to his children-conviction over sin, or repentance over fallenness, or challenges that scare us, or visions of his holiness that overwhelm us. But God never brings discouragement.
Scratch the surface of any cynic, and you will find a wounded idealist underneath. Because of previous pain or disappointment, cynics make their conclusions about life before the questions have even been asked. This means that beyond just seeing what is wrong with the world, cynics lack the courage to do something about it. The dynamic beneath cynicism is a fear of accepting responsibility.
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The greatest moment of your life is now. Not because it's pleasant or happy or easy, but because this moment is the only moment you've got. Every past moment is irretrievably gone. It's never coming back. If you live there, you lose your life. And the future is always out there somewhere. You can spend an eternity waiting for tomorrow, or worrying about tomorrow. If you live there, you likewise will lose your life. This moment is God's irreplaceable gift to you.
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I need to worship because without it I can forget that I have a Big God beside me and live in fear. I need to worship because without it I can forget his calling and begin to live in a spirit of self-preoccupation. I need to worship because without it I lose a sense of wonder and gratitude and plod through life with blinders on. I need worship because my natural tendency is toward self-reliance and stubborn independence.
Will you keep going when you don't know why? When you can't get any answers that would make the pain go away, will you still say, 'My Lord,' even though his ways are not clear to you? Will you keep going-with all the grace and grit and faith you can muster-and live in hope that one day God will set everything right. Will you trust that God is good? ... Ultimately, the choice everyone faces is the choice between hope and despair. Jesus says, 'Choose hope.'
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There is a immense difference between training to do something and trying to do something....Sp iritual transformation is not a matter of trying harder, but of training wisely.... Following Jesus simply means learning from him how to arrange my life around activities that enable me to live in the fruit of the Spirit
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Never worry alone. When anxiety grabs my mind, it is self-perpetuating. Worrisome thoughts reproduce faster than rabbits, so one of the most powerful ways to stop the spiral of worry is simply to disclose my worry to a friend... The simple act of reassurance from another human being [becomes] a tool of the Spirit to cast out fear -- because peace and fear are both contagious.
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How hard is it for God to get your attention? Do you regularly practice turning aside in your day? That is, taking a moment to listen to God- because God, through the Holy Spirit, really is speaking, because we know, every place is filled with the presence of God. There is not an inch of space, not a moment of time, that God does not inhabit.
Spiritual formation is for everyone. Just as there is an 'outer you' that is being formed and shaped all the time, like it or not, by accident or on purpose, so there is an 'inner you.' You have a spirit. And it's constantly being shaped and tugged at: by what you hear and watch and say and read and think and experience.
To become grateful, I must learn that I can handle disappointment and delayed gratification with grace and perseverance. This is why practices such as fasting and simplicity are such powerful tools for transformation. The experience of frustration and disappointment is irreplaceable in the development of a grateful heart.
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Ironically, often the thing that keeps me from experiencing joy is my preoccupation with self. The very selfishness that keeps me from pouring myself out for the joy of others also keeps me from noticing and delighting in the myriad small gifts God offers each day. This is why Walker Percy describes boredom as "the self stuffed with the self."
Many Christians expend so much energy and worry trying not to sin. The goal is not to try to sin less. In all your efforts to keep from sinning, what are you focusing on? Sin. God wants you to focus on him. To be with him. "Abide in me." Just relax and learn to enjoy his presence. Every day is a collection of moments, 86,400 seconds in a day. How many of them can you live with God? Start where you are and grow from there. God wants to be with you every moment.
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There is something you can't fix, can't heal, or can't escape, and all you can do it trust God. Finding ultimate refuge in God means you become so immersed in his presence, so convinced of his goodness, so devoted to his lordship that you find even the cave is a perfectly safe place to be because he is there with you.
There is such a love, a love that creates value in what is loved. There is a love that turns rag dolls into priceless treasures. There is a love that fastens itself onto ragged little creatures, for reasons that no one could ever quite figure out, and makes them precious and valued beyond calculation. This is love beyond reason. This is the love of God.
One of the great misconceptions about spiritual growth that develops in a lot of churches is that information alone is adequate to produce transformed human beings. So if we want to have a church of spiritually mature people, let's just keep cramming more and more information into them... Information alone is not adequate for the transformation of the human personality.
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Everybody wears an unseen sign that reads: Inspire me. Remind me that my life matters; call me to be my best self; appeal to whatever in me is most noble and honorable. Don't let me go down the path of least resistance. Challenge me to make my life about something more than the acquisition of money or success