Reflection: considering the parable of the four soils

Scripture 4 While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: 5 “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. 6 Some fell on rocky ground, and when …

How to be cut back so you aren’t cut off.

Reflections from John 15 Would you rather be cut off or cut back? Cut back. What has Jesus called us to do? Remain in him.  How do we remain? Make sure his word is in us and obey his commands. What is his command? To love one another.  What is love? Love is sacrifice, it is the opposite of selfishness. …

Breaking Through Frustration and Failure

Jesus said: “Very truly I tell you: No one can enter the kingdom of God unless they have been born of water and the spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” John 3:5-6 The kingdom of God is open to everyone, but there is only one opening: being born of the Spirit. What is …

1 Corinthians 15:10 | 20 Questions

Read the scripture. Pick two questions for reflection and prayer. “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect.” — Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:1 Generally speaking, what does it mean when one person show’s grace to another? Being as specific as you can, what is God’s grace? What …

a simple pattern for PRAYER

Relationships don’t just happen. You know this. They take all kinds of work in several different directions. One foundation for a healthy relationship is communication—speaking and listening. While the best friendships may not require a strict structure, they do need intentionality and authenticity. We are intentional when we make the time to talk and listen. Intentionality pushes further: we think …

Are you accountable for the most important things?

Ezra had money problems: he had too much. He also needed to travel a great distance–four months from Babylon to Jerusalem–which exposed him to theft. He trusted God for protection, but he also took diligent steps to minimize his risks. Ezra divided the treasures among 12 priests and said: “Guard them carefully until you weigh them out in the chambers …

Answering Temptation with Truth

Matthew 4:1-11 1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” 4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not …

God says not everyone’s invited. (Isaiah 55:1)

“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters” (Isaiah 55:1) In this scripture, we can see at least three things: An invitation It is addressed SPECIFICALLY to those in need A promise for that need to be met and fulfilled This means that: Invitations call for a response Needs call for recognition Promises call for trust Therefore we …

When God Abandons You

“For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back.” (Isaiah 54:7) God is everywhere, but he is in some places more than most. This doesn’t really make much sense and that’s because our finite minds cannot fully understand or explain the Infinite God. Somehow, “more” of God’s presence was in the tabernacle and this …

You should brag more often.

What is it about your life, that you are most excited about? What are you proud of? What accomplishments are you eager to share? Boasting—whether it happens in conversation with others or in the solitude of our hearts—is the act of declaring what we think is good. Some examples: “My kid scored the winning run.” “My car is awesome.” “My …

How Do You Know If You Are Too Confident?

There are at least two aspects of overconfidence: perceived and actual. Externally, some people are viewed by others as too confident. These people might be humble on the inside, but people don’t see it. This is a reflection of their foolish lack of self-awareness. Naturally, some people are too confident on the inside, and their pride is a reflection of …

Where do you find refuge?

“The Lord has established Zion, and in her his afflicted people will find refuge.” Isaiah 14:32   (a) Where do you find refuge when you are tired, exhausted, hurting or devastated? (b) Where has God created refuge for you? In what prayers or places or people can you find his power and presence and protection? (c) How can you get from …

Are You Spiritually Healthy?

What does it mean to be spiritually healthy? Let’s get a little more specific: Were you spiritually healthy yesterday? Answering this question is easy. Sure, it’s a little personal, but coming up with an honest answer is something most of us could do without much effort. The next question goes a little deeper:  Why did you give that answer? How …

Learn to Loose

Jesus gave up his rights, he willingly chose to loose when he could have won. He did this because it was the Father’s will and because his kingdom was from another place–not of this world. Under the unfair judgment of Pilate, Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my …

Seven Easy (and Essential) Habits for Reading the Bible Well

After fasting from food for forty days, Satan tempted Jesus and challenged him to make bread. Jesus quoted Moses and his response was earthshaking: “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4) WHY WE READ THE BIBLE Life isn’t easy. We were either busy, stressed, or both. We …

A Prayer from Ephesians

A prayer written by Tom Holladay: as a summary of his sermon, which you can find here. Lord—I want things to change—really change—in my prayer life. I pray from time to time, I want to learn to pray all of the time. Teach me to pray. I pray casually, I want to learn to pray earnestly. Teach me to pray. …

The Wrong Way to Pray

“To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable:  “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this …