Posted in book review, books, christian living, christianity, Faith, forgiveness, godliness, grace, Jesus, love

The Christian Atheist, Chapter 1

Photo by KEEM IBARRA on Unsplash

When You Believe in God but Don’t Really Know Him

Groeschel opens up the chapter with a story from his past regarding the time he met a young woman in college. As he got to know her, he grew more attracted to her and did what he could to impress her. Six months after meeting her, he proposed and 19 years later they are still together and happy as can be.

He uses that story to talk to us about how they know each other. However,

…despite how completely we know each other–even after nearly two decades–our intimacy continues to grow. We’re constantly learning how to connect and communicate deeply.

Believing Versus Knowing

Belief isn’t the same as personal knowledge

Groeschel continues by explaining the different levels of intimacy when it comes to knowing God.

“Some of us know God by reputation

  • We know a little bit about God–we’ve gone to church a few times, heard the Bible stories. We may even have a favorite Bible verse.
  • This knowledge is only secondhand, however

“Some of us know God in our memories.” 

  • “We’ve experienced his goodness, grace and love in the past.

“Some of us know God intimately.”

  • Right here, right now. It is THIS kind of loving knowledge that “God promises when we seek Him”

As we continue to seek God, we’ll grow to know him more and more intimately. When we hear God’s voice, we’ll recognize it instantly.

Not Knowing God

Believing God isn’t all He wants from us

In the book of James, it tells us that even the “demons believe in God, and yet they tremble because they know that they’re relationally separated from Him.”

Groeschel tells us there is more to being a Christian than just believing in God. We must experience God’s love. We must know him intimately.

He explains that growing up, he and his family were what you would call “cultural Christians.” They would go to church on Christmas and Easter. They’d help people in need. They donated canned goods to food drives. They’d pray at Thanksgiving meals.

But that was the extent of it. They knew about God. They didn’t know Him. And because Groeschel didn’t know God, he lived according to his own rules. He did what he wanted, not what God wanted. He didn’t have an intimate relationship with God.

In 1 John 2:3-4, it says,

We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says “I know him” but does not do what he commands is a liar and the truth is not in him.”

Harsh, right? Not according to Groeschel. He prefers to think of it as “straightforward and honest.” It is “truthfully spoken by someone who truly cares and wants what’s best for us.

We are created to be living examples of God’s love to a hurting world.

Knowing God can lead to positive lifestyle, but the reverse isn’t true.

Our outward actions alone don’t prove that we enjoy an inward relationship with God.

Groeschel urges us to make an effort to get to know God.

“God is interested not only in our actions but also in our hearts–in particular our attitude toward him.”

We can look good on the outside, make is seem like we love God but if our hearts aren’t there, if our hearts aren’t in the right place then when life is over, Jesus will say to us “I never knew you. Away from me, you evil doers.” (Matthew 7:23)

Not Knowing God Well

In this section, Groeschel writes about when Paul wrote his letter to the Galatians. They had experienced the real, living God but had “recently become trapped in legalism.”

In other words they fell back into their old ways. “They knew God but not well enough to avoid getting sucked back into a life based in the law, rather than in love. In Galatians 4:8-9, it says “Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning aback to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again.”

“In the 21st century, we would be wise to ask ourselves, ‘Is this us too?'”

Do you “sort of” know God?

Knowing God IntimatelyImage result for know God

Then there are those who “know God intimately and serve Him with their whole hearts.”

The psalmist, David, describes in Psalm 63:1-4 his relationship with God. In fact, he says that his experience of knowing the personal God creates a deeper longing for even more intimate knowledge of God.

David writes in the psalm “O God, you are my God” Did you catch that? David calls God “HIS God.” David continues to write, “Earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you.

What is David saying? He’s saying that there is absolutely nothing in this world that can satisfy him. Only GOD can totally satisfy.

Groeschel poses the question, “Have you ever felt that kind of love for someone? Now imagine that with God. Imagine that kind of love

Verse 3 says, “Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.” Better than life? He’s saying ‘If I had the choice–either keep God’s love and see my mortal body die, or lose His love and live–I would choose to die.

Matthew 16:26 says, “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”

Or how about Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”

What kind of love do you have for God?

Image result for names of GodIt’s All in the Name

What do you call God?

If you know God, you are likely to be far more specific with him and the words you use will reflect your accurate understanding of him.

There are many, many, many names for God.

He’s known as Savior, Healer, Comforter, Fortress, Rock, Strength, Provider, Friend, etc. The list can go on and on.

The Best is Ahead

Groeschel writes that it’s time to “be honest with yourself and with God.

“Do you know Him? If so, how well?

“Has God transformed you? Are you different because of Him? If not, perhaps you’re a Christian Atheist.”

But guess what? God loves you so much and earnestly wants a relationship with you.

If you don’t know Him, you can! “Getting to know God is not difficult and it isn’t about a bunch of rules. Yes, God wants your obedience, but he wants your heart even more.

He says over and over again that if you seek Him, you will find Him.

How do you find God? By reading your Bible. He’s there. Pray. He’s there.

“As you get to know him better, you will change……Instead of living for yourself and for the moment, you’ll live for Christ and for eternity. Your heart will begin to break for the reasons and causes that break God’s heart.

“Get to know God. When you do, you will never be the same.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements
Posted in books

Books I’m Reading

 

adult blur books close up
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I am currently reading two books at the moment. Some people may wonder how I can do that but hey, I’ve been known to read up to 3 books at a time. I enjoy taking a break from one subject and picking up the other book. Basically, I just love to read. 🙂 I have 4 bookshelves overflowing with books.

Anyway, the first book I’m reading is by Eric Geiger called “How to Ruin Your Life: and Starting Over When You Do.” Sounded really interesting so I had to pick it up.

It’s really good! Here’s the synopsis:

You can blow up your life.  

To bring strong and tall buildings to the ground, demolition experts strategically place tiny explosives throughout the structure of a building so that the building will topple on itself. Instead of destroying the building from the outside, they destroy it from within. In the same way many great men and women have imploded, and others are well on their way.

Author Eric Geiger offers a sobering reminder that many great and godly people have imploded, and none of us are above the risk. Looking at the story of David’s infamous implosion, readers will learn how to ruin our lives (so we won’t), and also how to find hope if we do–as all of us need His grace.

The second book I’m reading is called “The Christian Atheist” by none other than Craig Groeschel, one of my favorite authors. I’ve actually already read this book but I’m re-reading it because it’s really good!

“The more I looked, the more I found Christian Atheists everywhere.” Former Christian Atheist Craig Groeschel knows his subject all too well. After over a decade of successful ministry, he had to make a painful self admission: although he believed in God, he was leading his church like God didn’t exist. To Christians and non-Christians alike, to the churched and the unchurched, the journey leading up to Groeschel’s admission and the journey that follows—from his family and his upbringing to the lackluster and even diametrically opposed expressions of faith he encountered—will look and sound like the story of their own lives. Now the founding and senior pastor of the multi campus, pace-setting LiveChurch.tv, Groeschel personal journey toward a more authentic God-honoring life is more relevant than ever. Christians and Christian Atheists everywhere will be nodding their heads as they are challenged to take their own honest moment and ask the question: am I putting my whole faith in God but still living as if everything was up to me?

Groeschel has so many books out that I want to get. I did a review of his book “Weird” throughout many blog posts at the end of last year. You can check out the first chapter review here

I’m debating whether or not I should do another chapter by chapter review of one of these books.

What do you think? Should I do another chapter by chapter review of one of these books? If so, which one?

 

Posted in books, christian living, christianity, Faith, grace, Jesus, sports

Life

Image result for lifeLife is weird. Life is crazy. Life is full of unexpected twists and turns. Life has a way of sneaking up on a person.

I’ve always been told that when life hands you lemons, make some lemonade! I can’t say I’ve always held that positive attitude.

But I serve a Savior who always has my back. Life has thrown me major curveballs throughout the years and I’ve let a majority of them take me out. But when I came to know Christ and know Him fully….He took those curveballs out for me! He always has my back.

When life tries to pull me down Jesus is there, pulling me back up. When life is going great, when things are going my way, Jesus is STILL there with me.

Image result for Gods loveThe point is this: Life will surprise you time after time but there is a God who will always be there for you. He loves you that much.

His love is greater than life itself.

I’m reading “Shaken” by Tim Tebow right now. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Tebow, he is a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback who played for the Florida Gators and was drafted in 2010 by the Denver Broncos. He had a very successful college career but failed to succeed in the NFL, being traded to several different teams before finally being cut by the New England Patriots and is now out of the NFL.

Tebow has faced much scrutiny throughout his career due to his faith in Jesus Christ. He is very outspoken about his faith and was famously known for kneeling in the end zone and giving credit to God during games. He was mocked for this and he never fully gained success in the NFL.

Image result for shaken tim tebowHis book, “Shaken” is about his journey staying grounded in the face of disappointment, criticism and intense media scrutiny. He talks about the lessons he learned throughout the way, building confidence in his identity with God and not the world.

Though traveling hard roads is not easy, it’s always worth it!

Some quotes from those who have read his book:

Tim has always inspired me with his dedication to grow and improve in all aspects of life, especially his faith. With this book, Tim encourages readers to keep moving and stay strong while battling life’s obstacles.

Cam Newton, quarterback of the Carolina Panthers

Tim is a remarkable example of one who combines strength and boldness with kindness and compassion.

Ravi Zacharias , apologist, author, and president of RZIM

Tim is a role model, an inspiration to those who have a dream and are willing to accept life as a journey full of ups and downs.

Jon Bon Jovi, singer-songwriter

Whether or not you’ve followed Tim’s career, Shaken speaks to something we’ve all had to deal with–trusting God when the plans for our lives don’t work out.

Judah Smith, lead pastor, The City Church, New York Times best-selling author of Jesus Is____

I’m not very far into the book but what I’ve read is excellent so far. Here’s a couple of quotes from him:

I am a child of God. My foundation for who I am is grounded in my faith. In a God who loves me. In a God who gives me purpose. In a God who sees the big picture. In a God who always has a greater plan

It’s important to take God’s love personally, though it may not be an easy thing to do. Sure, God loves the world but he also loves each one of us individually. With billions of people on the planet, I know it can be hard to comprehend His love for us personally.

Sure, I struggle with God’s love for me sometimes. How on earth can God love someone like me? But He does and He always will. Is that hard to accept sometimes? Yes, but I work through it.

This is going to be a great read, I can already tell.

Have you read it?

When life hands you lemons or throws you curveballs…..what do you do?

 

Posted in books, christian living, christianity, Faith, forgiveness, grace, Jesus, love

Migraines

I suffer from migraines. Last Tuesday I started feeling one coming on and so I took my prescription medication for it. However, it didn’t do the trick like it usually does and as of yesterday, I still had the migraine so I decided to go to the ER. They gave me a cocktail of medications that did wonders for the severity of the headache. As in, I went from a 10 on the pain scale to a 4.

Today I woke up for the first time in a week without a headache. Yay! Praise the Lord!

Image result for not god enough jd greearI was feeling pretty good today so I decided to go out to LifeWay to look around. I found a book by J.D Greear called Not God Enough that seemed really interesting so I bought it.

Your God is too small.
We like God small. We prefer a God who is safe, domesticated, who thinks like we think, likes what we like, and whom we can manage, predict, and control. A small God is convenient. Practical. Manageable.
The truth: God is big. Bigger than big. Bigger than all the words we use to say big. Only a God of infinite power, wisdom and majesty can answer our deepest questions and meet our deepest longings.
Ironically, many today seem turned off by the concept of an awesome, terrifyingly great God. We assume that a God you would need to fear is guilty of some kind of fault. For us, thinking of God as so infinitely greater and wiser than we are and who would cause us to tremble in his presence is a leftover relic from an oppressive, archaic view of religion.
But what if this small version of God we’ve created is holding us back from the greatest experience of our lives–from genuine, confident, world-transforming faith?
In Not God Enough, J.D. reveals how to discover a God who:

  • is big enough to handle your questions, doubts, and fears
  • is not silent
  • is worthy of worship
  • wants to take you from boring to bold in your faith
  • has a purpose and mission for you on earth
  • is pursuing you right now

God is not just a slightly better, slightly smarter version of you. God is infinite and glorious, and an encounter with Him won’t just change the way you think about your faith. It’ll change your entire life.”

I’m already on Chapter 3! It’s AMAZING!

Some quotes I found to be thought provoking:

Most Christians haven’t rejected God; they have just reduced Him

True worship is intimacy grounded in awe.

His love at the cross didn’t move me because his magnificence in the heavens hadn’t humbled me.

A God we can predict, instruct and control is not a God who will captivate our affections or command our devotion.

I haven’t even finished this book and I can already tell it’s going to be a favorite!

What’s on your reading list?

 

 

 

 

Posted in books, christian living, christianity, quotes

What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do

Image result for book of JamesOn Sunday nights we are going through the book of James. We just started a couple of Sundays ago and I can tell it’s going to be a great study.

One thing I’m doing on the side to help me learn this book is reading a book by Dr. David Jeremiah called “What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do.” It’s a book on James and Jeremiah breaks up the book of James into different chapters on “What to do when…”

Chapters 1-3 deal with the first chapter of James.

It’s a really great book so far and here are some quotes that I have taken from it:

Genuine faith should make a genuine difference in the way a person lives. One’s creed should determine his conduct!

We are to persevere in our trials so that the work that God has begun in us may be brought to completion

Unless there is within us that which is above us, we will soon yield to that which is around us

We are saved by trusting in Christ but we are crowned when we are tested by fire and continue to love Him

Satan tempts us to bring out the bad. God tests us to bring out the good.

God may test you to strengthen your faith but He never tempts you to subvert your faith.

Always look to the Master’s face.

The struggle itself is proof that God is very close to us.  There would be no inner battle if we were truly lost.

We are not to passively examine the Word that is spoken but are to welcome it into our hearts with anticipation and excitement!

 

Posted in 2018, books, christian living, snow, winter

The Dreaded “S” Word

See the source imageDare I say it? It’s snowing here again. Oh how I wish it would stop! I’m so done with snow….at least for the rest of this winter. Maybe my attitude will change next season but for now I’m ready for the warmer weather. Not scorching hot, mind you, just warmer. Where I don’t have to wear a jacket.

And I can wear my beloved flip-flops! I practically live in those things the second it starts getting warm enough. Socks and shoes, no way. Flip flops all the way!

I won’t lie….the snow is very pretty coming down. It’s very pretty outside right now. I’m sitting at my desk watching the snow fall. But I just don’t want to get stuck in the house like we did after our winter storm a couple of weeks ago. That about drove me crazy with the claustrophobia! And I am definitely claustrophobic!


See the source imageSo I went to Lifeway today and found another Craig Groeschel book in the clearance section for $6.97! It’s called #Struggles. I’m looking forward to starting it. I’m currently reading Good Faith by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons right now so it’ll be a little while before I start it but I’m still excited. I love Craig Groeschel’s  writing!

I also bought Grace is Greater by Kyle Idleman on Audio. I have the book and I’ve already read it, it’s amazing. Now I get to listen to it in my car. 🙂

 

Verse of the day:

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.

John 10:10, NIV

What’s the weather like where you live?

What books are you currently reading?

 

 

 

Posted in 2018, books, christian living, christianity, Faith, godliness

Weird, Chapter 15: Just One Thing

Often he who does too much does too little

—-Italian Proverb

This is the final chapter in Weird: Because Normal Isn’t Working by Craig Groeschel. I have enjoyed reading it and I hope you have enjoyed “reading” it!

See the source imageChapter 15 opens up with Groeschel talking about New Years and the many resolutions that are made then broken.

By the end of January he says that “40 percent of people who made New Year’s resolutions break them.  By Valentine’s Day, the number of people who cannot sustain what they started jumps up to 75 percent.”

Groeschel adds that in the last few years he has changed his New Years ritual in a “positively weird way.”

Instead of making a long list of resolutions for myself, I make only one resolution that’s chosen by someone else.

The problem, Groeschel tells us, is that “many of us try to imagine all the things we’d like to be different about our lives and we try to tackle them all at once.”

Usually, though, we spend more time making those lists than we do actually following up and doing the items on them.

Many people have a lot of unfinished ideas–myself included

So several years ago, Groeschel began a “personal discipline to limit (his) life’s focus.” He will pray in the months leading up to a new year, asking God to reveal to him “What is the one thing you want to be different in my life next year?”

One thing may not sound like a big deal to you…..but think about it. If you set out to change several things in one year and you don’t fully accomplish any of them, what was the point?

So consider the weird alternative: if you can change just one thing in your life and you change that one thing entirely, fully, completely–then over the course of a decade, the landscape of your life will look dramatically different.

Ten cumulative one things. Ten major changes. Ten disciplines. Ten steps closer to who God wants you to be. A decade of one things adds up to a changed life.

Paved With God Intentions

pexels-photo-490466.jpegWe all have good intentions when it comes to making new years resolutions. But as Groeschel tells us “good intentions can’t change us or improve our lives without action.”

If we want to be better than normal, we must move from good intentions to what I call God intentions.”

Groeschel tells us that good intentions are our ideas we have that motivate us to set and achieve the goals that we genuinely want to accomplish. God intentions go “way beyond this, because they rely on discovering and acting on what HE wants us to do.”

Whereas good intentions are what we come up with, God intentions are our Father’s ideas.

So how do we find out God’s intentions? We simply ask Him. “If you’ll listen to the Spirit of God, I believe he’ll speak directly to you and show you that ONE thing that he wants for you and from you.”

Good intentions are me-centered.

God intentions are God-centered.

And when God puts something into you, you can be certain it will come to pass.

Maybe God wants to do a new thing for you. Something different. Something weird. Maybe he isn’t waiting until New Year’s to reveal it to you–maybe he’s starting right now.

Isaiah 43:18-19 says “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up, do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.”

U + 4 = 1

See the source imageGroeschel gives us 4 questions that can help provide clarity if we’re serious about wanting to know what God wants us to focus on.

  1. What One Thing Do You Desire From God?  “If God were to offer you, ‘I’ll do any one thing that you ask’ what would you ask for?  In the Bible, throughout his lifetime, David asked God for many different things–strength, courage, victory over enemies, help for his children, forgiveness. However, there is ONE prayer that David focused on that seemingly put all his desires into a singular request. “One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple (Psalm 27:4)  David was a man after God’s own heart. If he could have ONE thing, he chose to want to be with God, in his presence always.
  2. What One Thing Do You Lack?  In your relationship with God, what one thing is missing?  Remember the rich young ruler? He asks Jesus “What do I need to do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus tells him “You need to obey the commandments.” The rich young ruler confirms that he has done all these things. However Jesus can see through to this man’s heart, seeing a problem that the young rule didn’t even know he had. So he tells him to go sell everything he had and to sell it to the poor. “Then come follow me.” The rich young ruler became sad and walked away because he was very rich and had very many material items. “For many of us, it’s just one thing standing in our way of completely following Jesus.”
  3. What One Thing Do You Need To Let Go?  Normal people hold on to just about everything–busyness, money, possessions, grudges. It’s time to get weird and do something different–let one big thing go.  Philippians 3:14-15 says “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But ONE THING, I do: Forgetting what is behind  and straining toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Forget the past. Forge into the future. Let go. “If you’re not moving forward, not headed where God wants you to be, maybe it’s because you’re holding on to something from the past.”
  4. What One Promise Do You Need to Claim? “We mustn’t lose the hope of a specific promise that God has given us. It may not look like we expect it to look, or arrive when we want it to arrive but God is always faithful to His word.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 tells us that God’s grace is “sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

One For All

Normal people attempt countless goals with limited success. Weird people focus on just one God-given objective with tremendous results.

Let God create you in his masterpiece. “He will make you truly different and joyfully weird.”