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Christian Living

How to Find a Mentor

Mentoring Can Help Us Grow in Our Faith and Increase Our Impact

People sometimes ask me to mentor them. I’m honored that they ask. I want to say yes. Instead, I decline as respectfully as I can. Why? It’s because God hasn’t called me to be a mentor—at least not in the traditional sense.

He’s called me to write for him.

Taking time to mentor people one-on-one would detract me from doing something better, something better to advance God’s Kingdom.

Consider Nehemiah rebuilding the wall in Jerusalem. Some people want to meet with him to discuss what he’s doing. He refuses. He realizes that taking time to talk to them would take him away from his mission (Nehemiah 6:1-15).

In context, however, the people that ask to meet with Nehemiah have ill intent, which is not the case of people wanting me to mentor them. But the principal is the same. We must avoid distractions from what God has called us to do.

Types of Mentoring

When most people think of mentoring, they have one view in mind. Yet there are several ways to mentor people. Here are some of them:

In-Person Mentoring: One-on-one in-person mentoring is the most common and best-known method of mentoring. It’s when two people meet for the purpose of one person learning from another.

Sometimes this is scheduled and structured. The other extreme is unscheduled and informal.

Regardless of the approach, the goal is for one person to help the other.

Remote Mentoring: When meeting in person isn’t possible or practical, mentoring can occur at a distance. This is remote mentoring.

It may occur using the telephone or video call for real-time interaction.

Or it may be done via email or using another nonsynchronous communication tool. This is ideal for situations where people aren’t in the same time zone, or when schedules don’t align.

Historical Mentoring: We can also mentor ourselves through historical figures. This, of course, is one-way mentoring, where interaction isn’t possible.

Yet reading about these notable figures from the past and learning from them is a viable way where we can self-mentor.

With historical mentoring we can look at their life journey to see what they did well and what they could have done better. We can also learn from what they taught others, realizing those lessons ourselves.

In most cases historical mentoring occurs through reading books about them. But mentoring can also occur through watching videos. This can be of them directly (for those from the more recent past) or recreations of their lives (for those from longer ago).

Regardless, we can learn from them.

Mentoring through Books and Writing: We can also receive mentoring from contemporary sources. This can occur through books and writing (which I do a lot of) or through video (which I seldom do).

For people who want me to mentor them, they can receive practical and actionable input through my writing. I’ve written numerous books (currently over three dozen), which they can read and learn from.

For those who can’t afford to buy books, I have over 2,300 posts on this website, with one thousand more on abibleaday.com.

That’s well over one million words of thought-provoking information. I gladly offer these posts for free to everyone, at any time, around the world.

In addition to this, I also have a special section on my website with resources for pastors. This is primarily for those who find themselves in a ministry situation but don’t have access to formal training or lack the means to pay for it.

Though not comprehensive, it’s a collection of helpful resources to help them move forward.

Peer Mentorship: As the proverb says, iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17). Two people can mentor each other.

This is a way of mutual edification, teaching one another, challenging one another, and helping one another become better than they could on their own.

If you long for a mentor and find someone else who also wants a mentor, considering mentoring one another.

(For relevant related information, from a business setting, see my post “Peter’s Law of Reciprocity.”)

Mentoring to Avoid: Too often, however, we allow popular—albeit unqualified—people to mentor us from afar. Just because someone can sing, act, or excel at sports doesn’t make them a worthy role model.

Yet if we don’t guard ourselves, we will allow them to do just that.

In most cases, they will let us down, and too often they will mislead us. That’s why it’s critical that we choose our mentors carefully.

How to Find a One-on-One Mentor

A one-way mentoring from historical figures or contemporary writers is an easy way for anyone to receive mentoring, but some people long for one-on-one mentoring. The question becomes, “How do I find a mentor?”

Ask: The easiest approach is to ask. But go in with low expectations. The people most qualified to be a mentor are also the busiest. Give them the freedom to say no, and offer them grace when they do.

Receive: Though not common, someone may approach you and offer to mentor you. This is a huge gift. It means they see potential in you. They want to help you do better in life and achieve results faster.

Pray: Another option—a better one—is to pray for a mentor. Ask God to send someone your way, to prepare a path for mentorship. You still may need to ask them or wait for them to offer. But with God’s hand in it, it’s more apt to happen.

Listen: A final consideration—one that I use often—is to rely on the Holy Spirit to teach me.

I pray for supernatural insight. I listen for answers. I ask questions. I wait when needed.

Being able to hear from the Holy Spirit, however, doesn’t happen easily for most people. I wrote a blog post about how I learned to hear from God. I did this twice!

Consider Being a Mentor

One of the best ways to learn something is to teach it to others. In like manner, a key way to grow is to mentor others.

You don’t need to have all the answers. You just need to be one step ahead. It’s all right to tell your mentee that you don’t know or will have to get back with them.

As you mentor others, you will grow. And you’ll find that what they give back to you is worth your investment in them.

Mentoring Conclusion

Mentoring can occur in many ways, but the results are the same: We grow in our faith, become closer to God, and benefit those around us.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Bogged Down Reading the Bible?

10 Essential Bible Reading Tips, from Peter DeHaan

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Bible Insights

Rely on the Lord God

The Nation of Judah Calls Out to God and He Routes Their Enemy

Here’s a story that shows why we should rely on the Lord God.

King Abijah is the grandson of King Solomon and the great grandson of King David. Civil war during the reign of Abijah’s father, Rehoboam, splits the nation of Israel into two parts.

David’s descendants retain rule in Judah, while Jeroboam takes control of the rest of Israel.

The thirteenth chapter of 2 Chronicles contrasts the spiritual condition of these two nations.

Under the rule of evil King Jeroboam, Israel has turned their back on God, replaced him with their manmade gods, and established their own priests and practices.

The much smaller nation of Judah, however, has kept their focus on the Lord and pursued the right worship of him.

Armies from the two nations form battle lines. King Abijah, from Judah, has a force of 400,000. Israel’s King Jeroboam has an army twice the size. Judah is outnumbered two to one. They’re sure to lose.

Even worse, Jeroboam has divided his forces with some before the army of Judah and the rest in an ambush behind them.

In desperation, Abijah and the army of Judah cry out to the Lord. They sound the battle cry and begin the fight. God routes the enemy army and Judah is victorious, inflicting significant casualties on the army of Israel.

Jeroboam does not regain his power. God strikes him down and he dies. For his part, Abijah grows in strength.

The author of 2 Chronicles explains why the smaller army of Judah routes the larger army of Israel. It is simply because they rely on the Lord God, the God of their ancestors. He is the one true God, as revealed in Scripture.

May we likewise rely on the Lord God and put our trust in him regardless of the situation that surrounds us.

May we find victory because we rely on him.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is 2 Chronicles 13-15 and today’s post is on 2 Chronicles 13:18.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Bogged Down Reading the Bible?

10 Essential Bible Reading Tips, from Peter DeHaan

Get the Bible Reading Tip Sheet: “10 Tips to Turn Bible Reading from Drudgery to Delight.”

​Enter your info and receive the free Bible Reading Tip Sheet and be added to Peter’s email list.

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Visiting Churches

An Urban Church with a Mission: Discussion Questions

The website of this urban church says they’re a multi-racial, multi-socio-economic relational community, where the homeless worship and support one another.

I anticipate meeting people of other races and expect a service relevant to its inner-city neighborhood.

Consider these seven discussion questions about Church 68.

1. As we approach the building, others carry crockpots. Looks like a potluck. A shared meal is a powerful way to connect with others and build community.

What can we do to get to know others and create a sense of community?

2. Two people welcome us before we enter the building and more greet us inside. They tell us two key pieces of information: the location of the sanctuary and directions to the restrooms.

What key information do visitors need to know?

3. The crowd of white faces isn’t the amalgamation of races promised. I don’t spot anyone who looks homeless. Aside from location, it doesn’t look like an urban church.

What can we do to make our churches more diverse and inclusive?

4. As the minister concludes his message, he reminds us to pray for one person to lead to Jesus.

How can we do better at being expectant and ready to tell people about Jesus?

5. In true potluck style, I take a bit of most everything. Good food, good fellowship, and good times. I like the way they do church.

What do we think church should be? What must we change to do church better?

6. Throughout the day we suffer no awkward moments. These people welcome well. They’re an engaging group, intentional about their faith and their life.

How can we live with greater kingdom intention?

7. I’m glad we stayed to eat with them and enjoy community instead of scooting out right away.

Do people at our church leave when the service concludes or tarry to talk and hang out?

[Read about Church 68 or start at the beginning of our journey.]

If you feel it’s time to move from the sidelines and get into the game, The More Than 52 Churches Workbook provides the plan to get you there.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

10 More New Testament Practices, Part 1

Consider the Example of the Early Church and Then Follow It

We’ve already talked about the three main ways Jesus changed our perspectives for following him when he fulfilled the Old Testament prophets. The early church applied this by meeting in homes, serving as priests, and helping those in need.

As Jesus’s priests they minister to those in the church, tell others about Jesus, and worship him.

That’s a great foundation for how our church today should function, but there’s more. Consider these New Testament practices that we will do well to follow today.

1. Holy Spirit Power and Direction

The Old Testament focuses on God the Father and looks forward to the coming Messiah, Jesus. In the New Testament, Jesus shows up as a central figure in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John).

Then the Holy Spirit takes over for the rest of the New Testament, amplifying what Jesus set in motion.

Even so, Jesus is the central figure of the Bible—with God the Father pointing to him and God the Holy Spirit building on what he accomplished. Aside from being the key figure in the Bible, many say Jesus is the most important person in all of history. I agree.

Jesus does all his work on earth in about three years. He spends that time teaching his disciples and preparing them to take over when he returns to heaven.

Despite this, however, they aren’t fully ready to assume their critical role when he is ready to leave Earth. Instead, Jesus tells them to wait, wait for the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Holy Spirit power is the missing element they need before they move forward and advance the kingdom of God. In this, the Holy Spirit plays a leading role. He’s prominent in the book of Acts, guiding the early church and empowering its members.

The book of Acts mentions the Holy Spirit fifty-five times, with close to a hundred references. It’s clear that the Holy Spirit acts in Jesus’s place to lead his church.

In one instance, Jesus’s followers debate a theological issue about circumcision for new converts. After they reach a consensus, they write that “it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us” (Acts 15:28).

Listing the Holy Spirit first suggests he took a lead role and the people aligned with his perspective. I wonder how often we do just the opposite, where we decide and then try to manufacture Holy Spirit support.

Another time, as the church worships and fasts, the Holy Spirit tells them to send out Barnabas and Saul on a missionary journey (Acts 13:2). The Holy Spirit also speaks to Philip (Acts 8:29), Peter (Acts 10:19), Agabus (Acts 11:28), and Paul (Acts 20:22).

But the Holy Spirit isn’t just in the book of Acts. He appears in nearly every book of the New Testament, including Revelation.

For Jesus’s church, the Holy Spirit is in charge. He leads their meetings and directs all that they do. This is the first of our New Testament practices to follow.

2. Worship

We’ve already talked a lot about worship. The appropriate worship of God is a central tenet of our faith. The Old Testament mentions worship in 179 verses. The New Testament continues this theme with seventy-five more.

Many come from the Gospels as well as Acts. The book of Revelation mentions worship more than any New Testament book and comes in second overall, just behind Deuteronomy.

This makes it clear that worshiping God is in our history, our present, and our eternal future. Worship is the second of our New Testament practices,

In the most profound verse about worship, John reminds us that God is spirit. Therefore, those who worship him must worship him in the Spirit and in truth (John 4:24).

But what exactly is this verse telling us? There are two elements: Spirit and truth.

First, we have the Spirit, with a capital S. This means Holy Spirit. To fully worship, we must worship through the Holy Spirit. He will direct our worship and guide us. We must follow his lead and do what he says.

Though we often think of our worship as a physical act, there must also be a spiritual element to it. And the spiritual aspect is the more important one.

Second, we must worship God in truth. This means our worship must be honest, pure. To worship God in truth suggests integrity.

This means that we don’t make a show of our worship to impress others or gain their attention. That makes for disingenuous worship and doesn’t honor God. It doesn’t matter what others think of our worship, it only matters what God thinks.

The opposite of not making our worship a display for other people is holding back our worship for fear of what others may think or say. We must feel free to worship God as the Holy Spirit leads us.

This is how we worship God in Spirit and truth.

3. Prayer

In addition to worship occurring throughout the Bible, we also have prayer. Half of the books in the Old Testament talk about prayer, and most of the books in the New Testament address the subject. Prayer is the third of our New Testament practices.

James writes that the prayers from a righteous person are powerful and effective (James 5:16). Paul tells us to pray in all situations (Ephesians 6:18) and confirms that everyone should pray (1 Timothy 2:1).

The book of Revelation gives us some insight into our prayers. Three times John connects prayers with incense, which God receives from his people. First, we see golden bowls of incense which represent our prayers (Revelation 5:8).

Then we have an angel who offers the incense and our prayers before God’s throne (Revelation 8:3). And last, we see the smoke of the incense mingling with our prayers, rising to God (Revelation 8:4).

Whether we use incense or not in our spiritual practices, these passages in Revelation gives us a powerful image of how God receives the prayers of his people.

When it comes to praying, however, many people think of the Lord’s Prayer. Though a better label might be the Disciple’s Prayer. This is because Jesus gives the prayer to his disciples as an example of how the pray. It is their prayer, not his.

The Lord’s Prayer—sometimes called the Our Father, after its opening line—occurs twice in the Bible. People are familiar with Matthew’s version, with many having memorized it and with some churches reciting it as part of their worship practices (Matthew 6:19-13).

The version in Luke is far less familiar. It’s shorter and more concise (Luke 11:1-4).

Neither of these prayers are for us to memorize or recite as much as a model to follow. Here’s an interpretation of how we can apply it to inform our prayers.

  • We open the prayer by reverencing God.
  • Then we ask that his kingdom will come—implicitly with us helping to advance it—and that we will accomplish God’s will here on earth.
  • In the one personal, tangible request, we ask for our daily bread. That is, we ask God to provide for us each day what we need to live. It may be food or something else that’s essential.
  • Then we pray that God will forgive us, just as we forgive others. And if we withhold our forgiveness this implicitly allows God to withhold it from us. Hopefully neither will happen.
  • We end with a request that God will steer us away from temptation and give us victory over Satan’s attacks.
  • And some versions of the Bible tack on one more phrase. In this we celebrate his kingdom, his power, and his eternal glory.

But this is just one example of how the pray. The key is that prayer is an essential part of our faith journey and another of our New Testament practices.

4. Fasting

Another concept that occurs throughout the Bible is fasting. To fast is to go without food for a time. This isn’t an act of mortification to abase ourselves before God or try to gain his attention.

Instead it’s to focus our thoughts on God, seeking to better connect with him and align our thinking with his. When fasting, one recommendation is to take the time normally spent eating and use it to pray and listen to the Holy Spirit.

There are two key teachings in the Bible about fasting.

When Jesus instructs the people in his epic message that we call the Sermon on the Mount, he talks about this practice. He says “When you fast . . .” Not “If you fast . . . ” (Matthew 6:16-17).

From Jesus’s perspective, fasting is not an optional activity but an expectation.

Second, Jesus fasted (Matthew 4:2). He serves as an example to us all. Since he fasted, is there any reason why we shouldn’t?

Interestingly, Jesus doesn’t require that his disciples fast, but this is a short-term reprieve because he is with them. He adds that once he leaves, it’s time to resume fasting (Luke 5:33-35). Since he has returned to heaven and is no longer here on earth, it’s again a time for us to fast.

Fasting is the fourth of our New Testament practices. Jesus wants us to fast, and so we should.

5. Community

The early church also spends a lot of time with each other. This isn’t a once-a-week meeting for an hour or two. It may be an everyday occurrence (Acts 2:46, Acts 6:1, and Hebrews 3:13).

They don’t live their faith in isolation. They need each other. They thrive on community.

Just as the godhead of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit function as one, so too do Jesus’s followers (John 17:20-21, 2 Corinthians 13:14, and 1 John 1:3). Through mutual support they edify one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

This is how they grow in faith, with iron sharpening iron (Proverbs 27:17). It’s two—or more—people traveling down the road together, keeping each other on the right path and headed in the right direction. It’s picking up another when they stumble (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).

Living in community is the fifth of our New Testament practices. It is central to who they are and what they do. Without the encouragement and support of each other, they’ll certainly falter in their faith. Together they are better.

Together they can remain focused on Jesus and all he calls them to become. Community is key in making this happen. Think of this as true biblical fellowship (Acts 2:42 and 1 John 1:3-7).

What do they do when they hang out? They spend time in prayer (Acts 1:14, Ephesians 6:18, Colossians 4:2, and James 5:16). They worship (Acts 13:2 and Romans 12:1). They also sing (Ephesians 5:18-20, Colossians 3:16, and James 5:13).

The more established disciples of Jesus teach the newer followers about the basics of faith. Think of this as a new members class (Acts 2:42). And we’ve already covered how they share their material blessings with each other and listen to the Holy Spirit’s prompting.

Come back next week to learn five more things the early church did, five more New Testament practices.

Read more about this in Peter’s thought-provoking book, Jesus’s Broken Church, available in e-book, audiobook, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

What Will We Promise God When We’re in a Crisis?

Will We Follow Through When the Pressure’s Off?

God’s chosen people toil as slaves in Egypt. He tasks Moses with getting them out. So far things aren’t going so well. God has sent seven plagues to get the Pharaoh’s attention, without achieving the people’s release.

Plague number eight is on its way: Locusts.

An army of locusts. They strip the foliage and fruit off everything in sight.

Panicked, Pharaoh summons Moses. He confesses his sin for having reneged on his last promise to let the people go. He begs for forgiveness and asks Moses to pray that God will take away the plague of locusts.

Moses prays. God answers. He whips up a wind that carries the locusts out to sea. Not one remains in Egypt. Problem solved for Pharaoh, at least for now.

Guess what happens next? With the threat of locusts over, and the pressure for relief gone, Pharaoh changes his mind—again. He refuses to let the Israelites leave.

It will take two more plagues, with the tenth being the deadliest of them all, before Pharaoh lets the people go.

If only he had followed through on his promise to let them leave sooner, he would have avoided countless needless deaths—including that of his firstborn son.

What Promises Do We Make to God When We’re in a Jam?

It’s easy to criticize Pharaoh for making a promise during a crisis and going back on his word when life returns to normal. But we do the same thing. It’s human nature.

How many times, when in a moment of crisis, have we made a rash promise to God? It goes something like this, “Get me out of this mess, and I’ll never do it again.”

Or we pledge to do something that we should have been doing all along. Or we vow to stop doing something that we shouldn’t be doing anyway.

Then God hears our plea and often rescues us. But do we follow through on what we promise God? Not likely. Or if we do follow through, our pledge lasts only a short time, and we soon return to living life as we’ve always lived.

Making a bargain with God is never a good idea, because if we don’t follow through, we may find ourselves in an even worse situation. We may be better off to confess our shortcomings and ask for his grace and mercy.

Else we could end up like Pharaoh who paid a huge price for his broken promises.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Exodus 8-10, and today’s post is on Exodus 10:12-20.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Bogged Down Reading the Bible?

10 Essential Bible Reading Tips, from Peter DeHaan

Get the Bible Reading Tip Sheet: “10 Tips to Turn Bible Reading from Drudgery to Delight.”

​Enter your info and receive the free Bible Reading Tip Sheet and be added to Peter’s email list.

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Bible Insights

Pray When it Doesn’t Make Sense

After Job’s so-called friends fail so miserably to comfort him in his time of need, after they criticize and malign him, God steps in. God puts them in their place for what they said and affirms that Job has spoken truth.

Then God tells the friends to prepare a sacrifice and to ask Job to pray for them.

Picture the situation. Job’s life is in shambles. He is destitute and in pain, despising life itself. The only people who will even talk to him, attack him and his character, pulling him down even further.

Then they have the audacity to ask him to pray for them!

If you were Job, how would you respond?

Praying for them would be a hard thing to do; it would be far easier to give them the payback they deserve, but not Job. In the midst of his torment, he prays for his misguided friends even though they seem to be in a much better state than he is.

God accepts Job’s prayers—and then restores his fortunes twofold.

What if Job had refused to pray for his friends, might God’s response have been different?

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Job 40-42, and today’s post is on Job 42:7-10.]

Discover more about Job in Peter’s book I Hope in Him: 40 Insights about Moving from Despair to Deliverance through the Life of Job. In it, we compare the text of Job to a modern screenplay.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

May This Year Be Your Best Year Yet

Celebrating the New Year

Just as I often make a post for Christmas, I do the same for New Year’s Day. These posts usually address making New Year’s resolutions. But instead of resolutions, why not work to make this year your best year yet. With God’s help, you can.

Here are some of my past posts about New Year’s Day. Note the recurring theme on making resolutions—a practice I don’t follow and don’t encourage.

Check out these posts to see why:

Let’s not resolve to make this coming year better. Though we could strive on our own power to make it happen, we can’t ensure the outcome. The future is outside our control.

Yes, we can take steps to best position ourselves to make the most of whatever happens, but that doesn’t guarantee success.

What should we do then, give up and accept fate? Of course not.

We should do what we can now to establish the best possible foundation for our future—and trust God with the rest.

We can ask him to bless us—not because we deserve it or have earned it, but because he loves us. We can pray that he will guide us into making good decisions. We can seek him for strength to replace unhealthy habits with good practices.

When we do that, we’re poised to make this our best year yet. That’s what I’m going to do. It’s my approach every year.

 As we move into the days, weeks, and months ahead, may God bless us, guide us, and keep us safe. May it be our best year ever.

From me to you, I’ll end with this blessing: May you have a happy new year, and may this year be your best year yet.

Amen!

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Bridging the Sacred-Secular Divide: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Hold on to Every Thought

Make Our Thoughts Obedient to Jesus

Paul tells the church in Corinth to capture every thought and make it obedient to Jesus. Likewise, Proverbs advises us to guard our thoughts (Proverbs 4:23). (Some translations say to guard our hearts, putting a different twist on the same concept).

This is often hard to do—but not impossible.

Though I’m still working on it, my solution is to distract myself from wayward thoughts. When I remember to do this, they usually dissipate quickly. My distractions take two forms:

Quote the Bible

The first verse that comes to mind is in James: “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). This is good advice to follow, but when I cite it, I end up focusing on what I’m trying to escape. It doesn’t help me control my every thought.

Instead, my go to verse is from Revelation: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come” (Revelation 4:8). This passage places my focus on God, praising him, worshiping him, and acknowledging his eternal existence.” The enemy doesn’t like that.

I end up reciting this verse just about every day, often multiple times.

Pray

Another way I distract myself from wrong thinking is to pray. The enemy doesn’t like that either. However, I don’t pray that I’ll stop thinking wrong thoughts or for strength to hold them captive; that also focuses my attention on what I’m trying to escape. Instead I pray for someone else.

Just as I have one predetermined verse, I have one predetermined person who I will automatically pray for when wrong thoughts beckon. This keeps me from wasting time, trying to determine who I should pray for and gets me to the praying part quickly.

Capturing every thought and subjecting it to Jesus is usually quite easy when I remember to cite scripture or pray. The key is remembering to do so.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is 2 Corinthians 10-13, and today’s post is on 2 Corinthians 10:5.]

Read more in Peter’s book, Love is Patient (book 7 in the Dear Theophilus series).

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

Bogged Down Reading the Bible?

10 Essential Bible Reading Tips, from Peter DeHaan

Get the Bible Reading Tip Sheet: “10 Tips to Turn Bible Reading from Drudgery to Delight.”

​Enter your info and receive the free Bible Reading Tip Sheet and be added to Peter’s email list.

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Christian Living

Help One Another

We Must Be Willing to Share Our Concerns If We Hope to Receive Help

One of my newsletter subscribers emailed me with a question. He wants to do what the Bible says about loving one another (such as in 1 John 3:11).

He’s willing to sacrifice to meet the needs of his brothers and sisters in Jesus, but how can he do that when he doesn’t know what their needs are? How can he hope to help one another?

Even praying for them—something everyone can do—is hard when they won’t share what their needs are.

When his church takes prayer requests, “the tendency is to request prayer for someone else who is sick” he says, and not themselves. “It seems that the lack of openness and transparency prevents Christians from fulfilling the command to love one another.”

I get this. I’ve experienced it.

I too often hear people complain about their spiritual community for not being there to help one another—of helping them during their time of crisis.

Yet they guard their struggle as if it’s a huge secret and won’t let anyone know what they’re dealing with. How can Jesus’s church love one another, help one another, and pray for one another, when we keep them in the dark?

A Friend in Need

Once God brought to my mind a friend who had moved away. The Holy Spirit prompted me to reach out to him because he was struggling. Beyond that I had no clarification.

Did God want me to pray for him? Was I to encourage him? Perhaps I was supposed to visit him to help with something or just to be present. Or was the need financial?

It had been a couple of years since we had any direct contact, but through others I knew the general trajectory his life had taken. So, I wasn’t surprised when the Holy Spirit told me to reach out to him.

I emailed him and told him that God brought him to my mind that morning. “How are things going for you and your family? Do you need anything? How can I pray for you?”

He responded later that day, giving me a glowing report of his life, his work, and God’s provisions.

I felt a failure for thinking his life was in crisis. According to his report, he was doing better than me. I assumed I hadn’t heard correctly from God. It sometimes happens. But I wondered how I’d gotten things so wrong when the instruction seemed so clear.

Discouraged, I pushed aside my desire to help one another and my failure to correctly hear the Holy Spirit’s nudging.

A year later he and his family were in town. He invited me and some other long-ago friends to visit them at a vacation condo someone had gifted them with for two weeks.

We had a marvelous time catching up and renewing our friendship. During a quieter moment in their visit, it was just my friend and me.

He gulped hard and told me about the struggle he had the year before, how he lost about everything and the difficulty he and his family went through. I asked him when, and he told me August. That was when he was at his lowest. It was in August when I had emailed him.

I wanted to scream. “I would have helped you! I was ready to do whatever I could. But you didn’t give me a chance.”

Yet I kept my frustration to myself, because letting him know now of my readiness to help then would do nothing to alleviate the pain he went through.

I’d heard right from the Holy Spirit after all. Should I have pressed into my friend’s assurance that everything was okay? Should I have tried harder to help him even though he said everything was fine?

Basically, he lied to me. As a result, he missed the blessings God was preparing to give him through me—and perhaps others.

If we are to help one another, our community must be appropriately transparent and honest.

We Must Seek Balance

We all know people in a perpetual crisis. Their life seems to bounce from one disaster to another, and they’re always pulling everyone around them into it. It’s a quick way to lose friends and alienate others, especially when their own bad decisions are the continual cause of their problems.

Yet to avoid being that person, we often overreact to this concern, shielding others from our struggles. When we do this, we miss God’s blessings through them, and they miss the opportunity to serve us in Jesus’s name.

We must learn how to properly share the difficulties of our lives with others and avoid being stoic when we should be honest.

This is the only way we can hope to help one another.

Two Questions to Help One Another

If we are to truly help one another, we must ask ourselves two questions:

1. Who should I share my concerns with?

2. Who needs my help, even if they insist that they don’t?

And if we don’t know the answer to the second question, we can pray for them (James 5:16). Though I did pray for my friend, despite his insistence that everything was fine, I could have been more diligent about it.

In the future, when the Holy Spirit’s direction doesn’t align with what people tell me, I’m going to defer to God.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Categories
Christian Living

Start Each Day with God

Make Spending Time with the Almighty a Priority

God deserves our best, not whatever’s left over at the end of the day—if anything. This may be why he told the Israelites to give to him their first fruits, the first of their harvest (Exodus 23:16). That’s why we should start each day with God, with a focus on our Lord.

Here are some ideas to start each day with God.

Seek Him Before You Get Up

Before I leave my bed each morning, I turn my focus to God. I thank him for what happened yesterday, for the sleep that rejuvenated me, and the potential of the day ahead. I begin my day with a focus on him, which sets the foundation for what happens next.

Give Him Your Day and Invite Him into It

Before I arise, I thrust my arms into the air in a physical display of worship, giving the Almighty my day and inviting him into it. And the days when this feels the most difficult to do are the days when I need it the most.

Thoughts of trying to navigate the day without my Lord’s help are foolish.

Morning Prayers

At this point I’ve thanked God and prayed for my day. I’m up and have used the mindless task of shaving to shake the slumber from my soul. I’ve done some basic exercises and am (mostly) alert.

I now ask for God’s blessings on my family, for future generations of my family, and those closest to me. This prepares me for what follows.

Read and Study His Word

Next, I spent time reading and studying his Word. Sometimes this is part of a regular Bible reading plan. I often make notes about key insights the Holy Spirit reveals to me from that passage.

Though most people do this in a journal, I do it on my computer, organizing my observations by book, chapter, and verse. This way I can merge my thoughts for the day with observations from prior readings.

Other times my Bible reading and studying is in preparation for the book I’ll be working on that day. If I intend to write about a certain passage, I want to first fix my thoughts on it and meditate on it.

I’ve been doing morning Bible reading the longest and it’s ingrained into my day. It’s a lifelong habit that I formed. Only rarely do events distract me from it. I invest about fifteen minutes—though sometimes more—each morning focusing on Scripture.

This action is essential for me to best start my day with God.

Then Take Him Throughout Your Day

With these prerequisites complete, I feel ready to move into my plans for the day. But when I skimp on them, it’s not the best way to start each day with God.

End Your Day with Reflection and Thanksgiving

Though the focus of this post is about how we start each day with God, in some respects this effort begins the night before on how we end each day.

As I snuggle into bed my goal is to thank God for the day and what he enabled me to do. I pray for his blessing on my sleep and that even in my dreams I will hold every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5).

This is what I struggle with the most. This isn’t because of a lack of will, but because some nights I fall asleep before I can take this step, or I slip into slumber halfway through.

In case I missed doing this or fell short, that’s why I try to begin the next day by thanking God for the prior one.

Start Each Day with God

We should start each day with God and give him our best. He deserves nothing less and there’s nothing we need more. Though I don’t always do this as fully as I’d like to, this is how I try to start each day with God.

I pray that you have a regular rhythm for your day that begins with and focuses on our Lord. And if not, use these ideas to encourage you to move forward and place your focus on the Almighty as you begin each day.

Do you like this post? Want to read more? Check out Peter’s book, Bridging the Sacred-Secular Divide: Discovering the Spirituality of Every Day Life, available wherever books are sold.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.