A Strong Relationship

I have been focussing on my relationship with God a lot lately.  I’ve mentioned it in a previous post recently, but I’ve just really had it laid on my heart that all of the things I see in my life that need a little bit of fixing up can all be solved through my relationship with God.  I know this, and have known this, but for some reason it’s just hard to put in the effort to do it sometimes!  Whether it’s the busyness of every day life, the temptations of procrastination or general laziness.  Something always comes up to replace God Time it seems.  As part of my new philosophy of changing the underlying reasons instead of feeling guilty, I figured it was time to put a stop to all that mess.

For some reason, most people, myself definitely included, don’t put in the effort required to maintain a relationship with God.  If you will notice the word I used there…effort.

Think about your closest friend.  It could be your wife, your girlfriend, one of your parents, someone you’ve known for years, etc.  Whoever it is, think about how much time you spend with them.  How much do you call them?  How much do you text them?  How often and for how long do you talk to them?  Do you go to the movies?  Dinner? Hangout until the middle of the night?  What about their passions and desires, I bet you know them.  I bet you know what makes them tick and I bet you can tell almost instantly when something is wrong with them before they even say a word.  You are trained like a hawk to notice their mannerisms and body language.  You do LIFE with them.

Now, about that relationship with God that you care so deeply about.  Does it compare?

Relationships require effort, and for some reason, beyond my comprehension, humans just don’t seem to easily understand the fact that you can’t have a “God First” relationship unless you are willing to put in the effort.

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. – Matthew 6:33 (ESV)

I’m going to go more in-depth about this in a future post, but I wanted to mention it briefly here since it pertains to this topic.  God wants us to seek him first.  Notice what Matthew says in the verse above.  It specifically says the word first.  This isn’t the only place the Bible says this.  There are so many examples of God saying that he wants to be our everything, he wants to be the first thing in our life, he doesn’t want our leftovers.

Another issue we have in our relationship with God is that we don’t treat him the way he deserves to be treated.  While he wants a personal relationship with us, he also demands our reverence.  And if you think about it that makes a lot of sense…who would want to be friends with someone that didn’t respect them?

The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant.  My eyes are ever toward the Lord, for he will pluck my feet out of the net.  Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. – Psalm 25:14-16 (ESV)

A slightly different translation of the same scripture words it a little differently, showing the real meaning of the use of the word “fear” above.  To fear the Lord is to honor and respect him, to give reverence.

Friendship with God is reserved for those who reverence him.  With them alone he shares the secrets of his promises.  My eyes are ever looking to the Lord for help, for he alone can rescue me.  Come, Lord, and show me your mercy, for I am helpless, overwhelmed, in deep distress. – Psalm 25:14-16 (TLB)

And yet another stumbling block we experience on our road to building our relationship with God is not hearing him.  And it isn’t that he isn’t speaking to us; it’s that most of the time we are too busy or their is too much noise in our life to hear him.

“Be still, and know that I am God.  I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” – Psalm 46:10 (ESV)

“Be still” – that is a hard thing for us to do, but it is something that is necessary to building a relationship with God.  How do we be still?  The first way would be to make sure you are spending some quiet time alone with God.  Just like any other friend, relationships get better when you spend time together.  And just like any other friend, it’s a lot easier to do that when it is one on one and you are listening intently to each other.  Getting to know someone in a crowded and noisy place is no easy task, that’s why God specifically tells us to “be still…and know that I am God”.  Be still, and know Me…

I have struggled with this, I still do.  And I tell myself that I have a valid reason, I mean, I am busy!  Just look at a normal day for me:

  • Wake up early
  • Read the news for a few minutes while the coffee is brewing
  • Do the morning requirements…
  • Catch the bus to work
  • Work all day
  • Catch the bus home
  • Do some overtime for my second employer from home
  • Find some time to hang with the kids and wife (I fail at this a lot too…)
  • Maybe eat dinner somewhere in there
  • Work on things for Church
  • Play some video games, watch some youtube, etc…have some me time
  • Go to bed

Seriously…this is pretty normal for most of us these days, where is the time to spend with God?  I will just use my own list for example since I’ve told myself quite often that I just don’t have time.  I could read my bible instead of the news.  I’m on the bus for at least an hour both ways (I’m writing this post on the bus right now actually), plenty of time to spend there.  Those video games and “me time.”  These are things that I do.  I am used to them and they make me happy.  I am putting them before God, when all he wants is to be first.  Luckily it’s a simple fix, but simple isn’t always easy.

You have to MAKE time for it.  You have to actively choose to spend time with God.  Believe me, God is a wonderful and powerful God.  He has built time into your day to spend with him, all you have to do is choose to use it for what he intended it for.  I guarantee you there isn’t a single person that could prove to me they don’t have time to spend some time alone with God today.  The time is there if you choose to use it.

Why do we expect our relationship with God to be awesome when we aren’t willing to make the time to spend with him.  We are willing to drop items from our todo lists to go hangout with friends if they ask us.  Maybe a new movie just came out that we want to go watch really bad but it’s only showing during that one meeting with those people…that’s ok, we can move the meeting.  But for God?  No, can’t move the meeting for God.  We rationalize this by saying, “God loves me and doesn’t mind because he wants me to enjoy life”, “God understands that I will pray later (even though we don’t…).  But he doesn’t!  He wants us to put him FIRST!  Real life friends get offended if they don’t come first…how much more so do you think God feels to be second place when he wants to be your Everything.

Can you imagine keeping your friends if you have no time?  I’m sure we have all experienced it too.  What happens when you run out of time to spend with friends for long periods of time?  Things change.  Things get awkward.  Eventually you get to the point where you are talking once a month or less.  The relationship fades and things aren’t the same anymore.  But, if you start talking again, spending time together again, all of a sudden the old days are back and things are awesome again.  It’s the same way with God!  You have to spend time with him to have that awesome relationship.  There is no way around it.  And if you truly do want that awesome and strong relationship with God, you are going to want to spend time with him too.  You are going to want to spend more time with him than you do with other things…and you are going to start putting him first.

So, stop being busy.  Stop making excuses.  Stop putting him second.  And I know that’s easier said than done…but it shouldn’t be…it should be the easiest thing in the world!


Lord, I pray to you today to open up my eyes to see all of the time that you have built into my life to spend with you.  I pray that you would increase my desire and willingness to be in your presence more than you already are.  I don’t want anything to get in the way of our relationship, I want you to be the center and first of my life.  I want to get to the point that nothing else matters to me, I want to die to myself so that I can serve you more fully.

I pray that through my words today someone else is feeling the same thing I am feeling.  That there is someone out there who is lost and searching, searching for something to make them whole.  I know that something is you Lord, and I pray that you would lead them here, that the words that I have written here today have come from your direction and not my own.  I believe that you intend to see people changed through the power of words and through the power of these words.  I pray that you would use me in whatever way you see fit, and that I would have the courage to say yes, no matter what the cost.

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Spending Time With God

One thing that I have been trying to do lately is get closer to God.  My prayer life and my quiet time are severely lacking right now so I have been trying to fix that.  Some days I do really good, and other days I don’t.  I normally try to blame it on a busy schedule.  I won’t deny that I have a pretty hectic schedule at times, but I also can’t deny that isn’t a very good reason to be missing my daily dose of God.

I am subscribed to an email listing that sends a prayer to my email every day.  I’m not sure if this is cheating or not, but I have found it very rewarding to be able to add a random topic to my prayers as I go…helping me to give thanks in ALL things, not just the things I am thinking about at the current moment.

About two weeks ago I met with a group of close friends where we sat down and studied through some scripture and just talked about things going on in our lives.  One of the things that we all said was we wanted to get closer to God and put him first.  I don’t really believe in coincidences, I believe that God puts things in front of us exactly when we need it.  So when I received this particular prayer in my email the next morning, it was a Godsend for me.  I have been saying this specific prayer twice a day for the past two weeks.  I’m not saying that everyone should find a prayer and pray the exact same thing over and over again and limit themselves to that, but I am saying that this prayer, in connection with tons of other prayers I have prayed over the past two weeks, has really begun to bring me closer to God again.

I’ve felt closer in the past week than I have in a while.  I’m not going to lie, lately I have been doing so much stuff for people and church that I think I started to forget that I should be doing it for Jesus.  We can have the best intentions in the world, but if they aren’t for the right reasons then they mean nothing.  We can do good things for selfish reasons.

Anyway, I just rambled way more than I intended to…so here is the prayer that I received that has been helping me to get focussed during my daily time with God.

Oh God my Father,
I want to KNOW You.
You are so great and do great things.  I want to spend more time with You.
Help me to make time to sit before Your throne in quiet places,
to read Your Word in order to know You more intimately,
to develop an ear to hear Your voice so that I know when to turn to the right or to the left.
I trust You to guide me in all things.
I thank you for Your gift of the Holy Spirit, my “ever-present help.”
In Jesus’ name I come before You, amen.

*from PrimeTime with God by Churchgrowth.org

What was the purpose of all that?  If you are feeling far from God, or even if you don’t know Jesus personally but you arrived here because you are looking for something and you don’t know what that something is…just say a prayer.  Just sit down by yourself, somewhere quiet, and say a prayer.  It doesn’t matter what you say, you don’t need big fancy words or anything else.  Heck, you don’t even need to know WHAT you are praying for sometimes.  God knows it all, and He just wants to spend time with you.

I sat down a few days ago after work, it had been a long day, I was stressed, I still had a million things to do.  But I took a few minutes to just sit there in silence.  I shut my office door, sat in the floor of my closet, and closed my eyes.  I didn’t know what to say, my mind was so blown from the day that I was just at a loss for words and for thoughts, but I sat there and simply told God I wanted to spend a little time with Him if for no other reason than just to be in His presence.  And it was awesome, I was only in that closer for 10 minutes maybe, and it renewed me for the rest of the afternoon.

I’m not saying that we should never come to God without knowing what we want to speak to Him about.  I firmly believe that praying specifically, intently, passionately, and repeatedly for exactly what you want to say is one of the most powerful ways to pray.  I’m just saying that it’s ok to just sit with God and let Him do the talking if you don’t know what to say.  God wants to spend time with you, not your words.

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites.  For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others.  Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.  But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret.  And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.  And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.  Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” Matthew 6:5-8

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No More Guilt. Only Change.

It has been almost a year since I restarted this blog with the intention of posting at least weekly.  So at a minimum, there should be 49 posts already.  Sadly, this is only the 3rd.  I’ve been feeling guilty about that for a while; which makes me not want to write because I don’t want people to see my failure yet again.  I had a re-awakening last night in which I rediscovered something I already knew.  I realized that I don’t need to feel guilty about it, I just need to make a change and move on from here.

If you have the time, go read my first post, almost nothing has changed in my life since I wrote it.  Normally that would upset me and make me feel guilty about it.  While I’m certainly not happy that I haven’t changed in all the ways that I’ve wanted over the past year, I’m not going to be guilty about it…I’m just going to change.

A quick list of a few of my goals and how they normally make me feel when I don’t quite hit them:

  • Pray. Every. Single. Day. – guilt
  • Read the Bible, even if it’s only one verse – guilt
  • Don’t yell at my kids, correct them in love – guilt
  • Do the dishes (seriously, this is HARD for me…I have no clue why) – guilt
  • Manage my time better – guilt
  • Don’t procrastinate, DO IT NOW! – guilt

Some of these goals affect more than just myself when I fail at them.  Sometimes people that are relying on me get nervous because I’ve waited until the last minute to do something they needed.  I hate when this happens, because I have always prided myself on being reliable!  I affect my children negatively when I yell at them.  I’m not talking a stern talking to here; I mean full on at the top of my lungs yelling.

Some of them affect my relationship with God, which should be the most important thing in my life all the time.  But if I’m honest, my relationship there struggles just as much as the rest of my relationships.  And then there is my wife, who has more work to do when I don’t help out around the house.  I am sure it makes her bitter with me at times, which is completely understandable.

I’m not going to list every single way I fail at these goals, but I think you get the point.  I am not perfect, both you and me know it.  But one thing they all have in common is that they make me feel guilty when I fail at them.

Guilt puts most people into a never-ending cycle of inaction.  For me especially, I’ve come to realize that when I feel guilty about something I end up avoiding it and then I feel even more guilty about it.  “Now I’m behind on my devotions and have to catch up”, “my kids won’t love me because I’ve been mean too often”, “it’s too late to fix it so I might as well keep it up”, etc.  Lies that fill my head to prevent me from doing the only thing that can fix it…CHANGE!

So, from now on instead of feeling guilty about my failures, I’m going to attempt to change the underlying cause of them.  Without that effort how can I, or anyone else, expect something to change?  There is an old saying that makes perfect sense and I’ve always applied it to specific areas in life (technology problems mostly) instead of to life itself.  “You can’t do the same thing multiple times and expect different results.”  It’s time to apply it to life.

Read the below verse a few times and let it sink in.  It doesn’t say “I will forgive them yet still hold their sins in my mind”, it specifically says that “I will remember their sins no more.”  As in, you are forgiven…and then it’s gone.  There is no list of “well you did this that one time”…the slate is completely wiped clean.  God isn’t limited to our human view of justice that requires payback and memories of the past.  Don’t let your guilt weigh you down when all you have to do is repent and it’s completely erased.

“For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” – Hebrews 8:12 ESV

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