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Bible Insights

Do Our Meetings Do More Harm Than Good?

We Must Examine Our Church Meetings to Make Sure They Are Truly Beneficial

In Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth, he talks about worshiping God and then he talks about celebrating the Lord’s Supper. In between these two topics he slips in a condemning one-liner. He says that their meetings are more likely to cause harm than to do good.

Some Bibles attach a subheading just before this verse that references the Lord’s Supper. However, someone later inserted this information, and it wasn’t part of Paul’s original letter.

Disregarding this added text, leaves us to wonder if this condemning warning is a reference to worship or to the Lord’s Supper. It might apply to both.

Therefore, we should consider both our worship services and our communion practices. Do they do harm or do good?

Do Our Worship Services Cause Harm or Do Good?

Have you ever left a church service feeling empty, spiritually drained, or emotionally beat up? This could be the result of the Holy Spirit at work in your life, but it may be more likely that the church service itself caused you harm.

I’ve been to services like this.

Sometimes they are void of spiritual significance. They may have provided an entertaining concert or a saccharine lecture full of humorous one-liners or tweetable sound bites, but was God at work? Do we leave feeling rested and refreshed or bruised and broken?

Some church services mistake loud worship music for Holy Spirit power. I’m not against loud music. I grew up on rock and roll. Some music needs to be listened to loudly to appreciate it. But when the volume level detracts from our worship experience, something is wrong.

Despite having been to church services with music that was too loud, and painfully so, it’s never produced a headache in me. However, the volume level of some pulpit-pounding preachers has given me a headache, their content notwithstanding.

Other services come across as self-congratulatory, not celebrating what God has done but boasting about the accomplishments of the church and its leaders. And still other services have agendas that have little to do with God and much to do about some human objective.

And don’t get me started on pleas for money, with an offering or two; an altar call that drags on, even though no one responds, and everyone is bored; or announcements that take up time but offer no meaning.

What about long prayers that aren’t talking with God as much as trying to impress the congregation?

Some church services have sucked the life out of me. They have done more harm than good. My soul would have been better off had I stayed home.

Does How We Take the Lord’s Supper Cause Harm or Do Good?

Often, taking communion is part of a church service. The frequency may vary anywhere from weekly, to monthly, to quarterly. These are usually solemn affairs, steeped with reverence and ritual. There’s nothing wrong with this, but shouldn’t the Lord’s Supper be a celebration?

What is the purpose of the Lord’s Supper? It’s something we do out of obedience to remember what Jesus did for us. Yes, he died. But more importantly, he overcame death by rising from the grave. His victory can be our victory, and it’s worthy of a party.

Each Sunday when I go to church, may my involvement do good and not cause harm. Click To Tweet

When I take communion at church I try to focus on the why, but I often struggle. The process distracts me, especially if I’m visiting a church.

I become so focused on how that church practices communion and not embarrassing myself should I deviate from their tradition, that I often forget that Jesus is the reason we’re doing it in the first place.

Though I have expectations that celebrating the Lord’s Supper will produce a highly spiritual experience for me, I’m often disappointed. At most churches, most of the time, communion causes me more harm than good.

It’s not until I go home, that I can shake the negativity from my soul and rightly reorient my focus on God.

Make Our Meetings Do Good

Despite these many concerns, I still go to one of today’s church services every Sunday. I still partake in communion every chance I get. Some meetings are good, and I appreciate them.

Though I’m not currently in a leadership position at church and can’t influence the overall structure of the service, I can do my part to help make them be good and not cause harm.

This is through each interaction I have with people before the service, after the service, and to a lesser extent even during the service. I can offer encouragement. I can pray for them. I can listen to them. Sometimes merely acknowledging someone’s presence, produces a smile that the service failed to do.

Each Sunday when I go to church, may my involvement do good and not cause harm.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is 1 Corinthians 11-13, and today’s post is on 1 Corinthians 11:17.]

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.

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Bible Insights

Longing for God

May Our Soul Pant for God with the Same Urgency as a Deer Panting for Water

King David penned Psalm 41. He opens with a powerful image of a deer panting for water. It illustrates David longing for God. David concludes his song by confirming he will praise God. Sandwiched between the opening and ending of this Psalm, David shares the turmoil churning in his soul.

But we’ll focus on the opening two verses.

A Deer Pants for Water

Imagine a thirsty deer running up to a stream, anticipating a refreshing drink of water. This isn’t so much as to keep the deer hydrated. It’s more urgent. The deer, a mighty buck, has traveled a distance and has a vital need to drink. He’s dehydrated and needs water to live. The deer needs living water.

The buck pants after traveling in the hot sun. His chest expands and contracts as he sucks in as much oxygen as possible, as quickly as he can. He perks up his ears to listen if danger lurks. He looks right and then turns left. Confident he is for the moment safe, with no predators nearby, only then does the deer dip his head down to drink from the cool, energizing water he so longs for.

Our Souls Pant for God

Just as the deer pants for water, do we have a similar longing for God? Does our soul—our mind, will, and emotions—pant for God? Does our soul thirst for him? Do we need the living God as much as the deer needs living water to survive?

As the deer traveled in the hot sun to find life-giving water, we, too, travel through the difficulties of life to find God’s living water. But for me my search doesn’t feel as imperative. Yes, I know I should have a longing for God. But in actual terms, my search for him, and to be with him, doesn’t carry the urgency it should.

May we have a longing for God that causes us to seek him with all our heart. Click To Tweet

Seek God with All Your Heart

For our soul to pant for God the way a deer pants for water, we can start by seeking God with our whole heart. Three of David’s other songs mention this: Psalm 22:26, Psalm 27:8, and Psalm 69:32.

May we have a longing for God that causes us to seek him with all our heart.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Psalm 41-45 and today’s post is on Psalm 42:1-2.]

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Visiting Churches

A Fresh Sunday Experience (Visiting Church #38)

The church meets in the all-purpose room of a local school. The atmosphere is casual, with people milling about, talking, sipping coffee, and munching snacks. With all ages represented, we see many kids present. Jeans and t-shirts abound.

The church meets in the all-purpose room of a local school. The atmosphere is casual, with people milling about, talking, sipping coffee, and munching snacks. With all ages represented, we see many kids present. Jeans and t-shirts abound.

A team of four (guitar, bass, drums, and vocals) lead the singing. As a special treat, three members of a ballet company worship with us in dance. Ballet and guitars strike me as a disparate pairing, but the result is beautiful, as they worship God with movement.

Though some may disagree, dance belongs in church. It adds depth to our praise of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

For the past several weeks, we’ve seen traditionally dressed ministers give traditionally sounding sermons; I yearn for something fresh. Today’s pastor and message accomplish that, offering a much-appreciated reprieve from the tired routine.

The pastor doesn’t stand on the stage behind a pulpit, but is on our level using a music stand. His style is accessible and calm. I feel at peace.

“Isn’t the story of Jesus’ birth absurd?” he dares to ask. This isn’t a rhetorical device or a rational denial, but a challenge to deeply consider all the Bible offers and the ramifications of its narrative.

Instead of focusing on the familiar and skipping the confusing, he digs into the perplexing passages of the Bible – and encourages us to do the same. At the touch of his iPad, he displays the verses for us to read on the screen stationed to his right.

The kingdom of God starts now, today. He encourages us to ask tough questions about the Bible and God, inviting us to journey with them towards Jesus.

Afterwards we stay to talk about family and faith.

God provided what I needed today; he refreshed my soul.

[Read about Church #37 and Church #39, start at the beginning of our journey, or learn more about Church #38.]

Get your copy of 52 Churches and The 52 Churches Workbook today, available in e-book, 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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Christian Living

Discover How to Grow Spiritually

Our Spiritual Health Should Be Our Most Important Healthcare Concern

Many people today worry about their health. This can relate to their physical health, mental health, or emotional health. They have less concern, however, about their spiritual health—if they give it any consideration at all.

But our spiritual health is the most critical of all our healthcare concerns. It’s important for today and essential for eternity.

To pursue our spiritual health, seeking to maintain the status quo isn’t enough. This will fall short. Instead we must strive for spiritual growth. Here are the main steps we can take to grow spiritually.

Study Scripture

Daily Bible reading is an important aspect of spiritual health. I encourage everyone to do it, whether in short passages or in a grand plan to read the Bible in a year. As we read the Bible each day, we hide it in our hearts (Psalm 119:11) and immerse it in our souls.

Just as we need to eat each day for our physical health, we need regular doses of Scripture for our spiritual well-being.

Bible reading, however, is just the start. As we read scripture, we should meditate on it (Joshua 1:8) and study it (John 5:39 and Acts 17:11). Then we should allow the Holy Spirit to speak to us through the words we read.

Bible reading, study, and meditation is the first step for people who want to grow spiritually.

Talk to God

Next is communicating with God, which we typically call praying. Yet for many people prayer is one way. They tell God what they need or want. Sometimes they thank him or even praise him (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

Yet prayer should be bidirectional. It should be a dialogue. We talk to God, and we listen to what he has to say (John 14:26). It takes practice to hear the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit, but learning to hear from God is worth the effort.

Prayer is the second step that helps us grow spiritually.

Engage in Community

Just as God lives in relationship with himself as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, so too does he desire to be in relationship with us. He created us for community. This means spending time with other followers of Jesus.

We should not neglect this (Hebrews 10:24-25). Wherever two or more hang out in his name, he is there (Matthew 18:20). A unique spiritual connection occurs when we do this.

This could happen at church, or it could happen in other places. While Church should be a great place for Christian relationships to develop, many gatherings lack this opportunity for meaningful connection. God created us in his image to thrive in community.

When we engage with intention to connect with other followers of Jesus, we grow spiritually.

Serve Others

These first three elements of spiritual growth prepare us for the last. This is to serve others (Matthew 25:35-40, John 3:1, James 1:27, and James 2:14-17).

There are limitless opportunities for us to help others. These can be to meet the physical needs, emotional needs, or spiritual needs of those around us. Often addressing one of these three areas connects with the other two.

Serving others can occur through giving our money or our time. Either way it’s an investment in their overall physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual health. And as we help them, we grow spiritually.

To grow spiritually we must study Scripture, pray, hang out with other Jesus followers, and serve those outside our community. Click To Tweet

Summary of How to Grow Spiritually

The first two elements of spiritual growth—Bible study and prayer—relate to our relationship with God. Our spiritual health starts there.

The third element—intentional Christian community—relates to our relationship with other followers of Jesus. This is essential, but for us to get the most out of our time with other believers, we must first pursue God through Bible study and prayer.

Christian community looks internally at the body of believers.

When we put all three of these steps together the goal is an outward look towards others to serve them and point them to Jesus. This is the purpose of the first three steps: to help others with their own spiritual health.

To grow spiritually we must study Scripture, pray, hang out with other Jesus followers, and serve those outside our community.

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

The Truth about Seminary

Seminary Doesn’t Prepare People for Ministry; It Merely Meets Manmade Expectations

I know many people who have gone to seminary. And I have friends who are going to seminary. I encourage them, pray for them, and once even helped pay the tuition. I respect those who have gone to seminary and graduated. But here’s the truth about seminary.

Yet for most ministry-minded people seminary is a waste of time. Truly.

Seminary Is Man’s Idea

Attending seminary is a human concept. Nowhere in the Bible is there a command to pursue advanced education in order to minister to others. Jesus doesn’t say, “Before you go into the world, spend three years in advanced studies,” he just says, “Go.”

We made up the seminary part because it seemed like a  good thing to do, but it isn’t God’s idea.

Seminary Isn’t Required

None of the disciples, apostles, or elders went to seminary or received any sort of special religious training (Acts 4:13). The only one requirement is that they had spent time with Jesus. Yep, that’s it.

The one essential qualification to ministry in the New Testament is having spent time with Jesus (Acts 1:21). Paul barely qualifies because, as one too late, he lacks one-on-one time with Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:8-9), but…

Seminary Knowledge Confuses People

Paul is the closest example in the New Testament to having a seminary degree. However, this detracts rather than helps. After Paul talks to Felix, the governor exclaims, “Your great learning is driving you insane,” (Acts 26:24, NIV).

Yet Felix is an outsider. What do insiders think? Peter, the church’s first leader, writes this about Paul: “His letters contain some things that are hard to understand,” (2 Peter 3:18, NIV). At best, advanced learning creates a gulf between ministers and other people.

Seminary Doesn’t Help

I read that ministers who haven’t been to seminary are happier in their jobs than ministers with religion degrees. Furthermore non-seminary ministers are deemed more successful in ministry than their diploma-toting peers.

So it seems seminary prepares ministers who will not be as happy or as successful.

Seminary Delays Ministry

I’ve had my heart broken too many times by people who say, “God has called me to full time ministry—so I’m going to seminary.” The first part excites me. The second part vexes my soul. If God calls you to full time ministry, then obey him and go.

If God actually tells you to go to seminary, then go. Otherwise just start serving him now. Click To Tweet

Don’t waste three years to get more schooling that doesn’t really matter, because…

Seminary Trains the Wrong Things

Seminary does little to draw students into a closer, personal relationship with Jesus, help them connect with God through prayer, or partner with the Holy Spirit. And it doesn’t focus on the essential people skills needed to lead a congregation.

The one thing seminary is good for is to prepare people to teach at the college level. A seminary graduate possesses the academic credentials universities require. Of course to actually teach seminary requires a PhD, but an MDiv does give great credentials to teach at a Bible college.

Seminary Wastes Money

While a few seminaries are free, most cost money to attend. Spending money on something that isn’t commanded or required by God, delays ministry, and prepares for the wrong things is foolish and an example of poor stewardship.

Instead invest that money in kingdom-facing initiatives that will actually do some good.

The Truth about Seminary

The one thing seminary does accomplish is that it fulfills the expectation of people that their clergy have endured the rigors of advanced education. Indeed, in some religious circles a seminary degree is a necessary document to gain entrance.

Yet this manmade requirement does little to equip ministers with the skills needed to do their jobs well.

If God actually tells you to go to seminary, then go. Otherwise just start serving him and leave the advanced education to the academics. Jesus is all you need. And that’s the truth about seminary,

Read more about the book of Acts in Tongues of Fire: 40 Devotional Insights for Today’s Church from the Book of Acts, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover. [Originally published as Dear Theophilus Acts.]

Read more about this in Peter’s new 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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Visiting Churches

A Husband and Wife Team (Visiting Church #13)

The church has no website and its Facebook page is nothing more than a placeholder. Given this lack of presence on contemporary channels, our experience suggests they are a smaller, aging congregation with a traditional service. My assumption proves true.

The pastor is the first person we meet. He’s perhaps in his thirties and not a contemporary of his parishioners. As we talk, his wife arrives and we exchange introductions. She’s also the pianist and will later sing the special music.

Accomplished at what she does, she plays with passion and joy. The pastor leads the singing, both vocally and visually as his hands keep time. He has a beautiful voice, which he projects with polished confidence. They make a great team.

The message is an expository teaching from the opening verses of Revelation 21, part of an ongoing series. After verse seven he checks the time and ends the service.

Afterwards he seeks us out. I enjoy our conversation, but we’re blocking people in the aisle. So when there’s a lull in conversation, I thank him for his time and wish him a good afternoon.

We turn to exit. I see his wife standing by the door, apparently in her husband’s stead, shaking hands and chatting with people as they leave. We also have an extended conversation with her.

Had it not been for a previously planned family get-together, they would have invited us over for lunch. Perhaps some other time. Their suggestion honors me. Sharing a meal is a great way to make a connection and form community.

We say our goodbyes. This young couple stirs my soul, faithfully serving God as they pour themselves into this tiny church. God, bless them and their ministry.

[Read about Church #12 and Church #14, start at the beginning of our journey, or learn more about Church #13.]

Get your copy of 52 Churches and The 52 Churches Workbook today, available in e-book, 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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Christian Living

Why Getting a Sunday Sabbath Rest Is Essential

Something Is Wrong If I Wake Up Monday Morning Unprepared to Embrace My Week

The Old Testament talks a lot about the Sabbath, the final day of the week. God—through the Old Testament writers, especially Moses—tells us to keep the Sabbath holy and to rest. But this is an Old Testament thing, and Jesus came to fulfill the Old Testament, right?

It’s true that we no longer set aside the seventh day of the week for our faith practices. Instead we’ve made the first day of the week our special day. This may be because Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week, on what we now call Sunday.

In this sense, Sunday is now our Sabbath, our Sunday Sabbath. Should we treat this Sunday Sabbath as holy and set it aside as our day of rest?

Some would say “yes,” and others would say “no.” The first group claims that it’s biblical, while the second asserts that it no longer applies, that it’s archaic.

However, I don’t align with either group.

A Sunday Sabbath

I see no point in pursuing my Sunday Sabbath with legalistic fervor over what I can and cannot do. This feels like a punishment and not a reward. Let’s make Sunday a gift from God. Remember that Jesus said the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27).

Yet I don’t dismiss Sunday as just another day of the week, albeit with a church service squeezed in. Sunday must be different. It must be set apart.

I want Sunday to retain a spiritual holiness, just like the Sabbath in the Old Testament. And I need Sunday to serve as a day of rest, just like the Sabbath in the Old Testament.

In the Old Testament a day of rest was practical. The people needed to set aside one day a week from their labors. To survive, they work from sunrise to sunset, six days a week. Their bodies required rest on the seventh day to prepare them for the six days of toil that followed.

Most of us no longer work six days a week from sunrise to sunset. We now work 9 to 5, Monday through Friday—or a bit more, but seldom close to the eighty, ninety, or more hours a week that ancient man toiled to survive.

Even so, we still need to take a break, not so much from our work, but from our busyness.

We must treat our Sunday Sabbath as different from the other six days of the week. Click To Tweet

We Need a Sunday Sabbath Rest

In today’s culture, we work hard (usually), and we play even harder. We pack every minute of every waking hour with activity, often multitasked, mind-numbing busyness.

Without a moment to catch our breath, our busyness—often under the guise of recreation—leaves us worn out and exhausted. That’s why we need to embrace rest as our Sunday Sabbath practice.

By taking a much-needed break from our perpetual busyness, we rest on the first day of the week to prepare us for the six days that follow. Our bodies require it, our souls depend on it, and our spirits demand it.

What does the Sabbath Sunday rest look like?

I don’t know. I’m still figuring it out. But I know that we must treat our Sunday Sabbath as different from the other six days of the week. I also know that if I wake up Monday morning unprepared to embrace the coming week that something is wrong.

I know that I missed my Sabbath rest.

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

Make a Difference by Having a Meaningful Spiritual Conversation

We Can Impact Others by Being Intentional with Our Words

Are we someone who others want to talk to about spiritual matters? Are we open to pursue a meaningful spiritual conversation?

A Timely Phone Call

As I made lunch, my phone rang. Few people have my number—only family and close friends—so I expected another scam call. I prepared to reject the call and block the number. To my utter glee, the caller ID revealed that a valued friend was waiting to talk to me.

My heart leapt for joy. I know this sounds over the top, but it’s the best way I can describe it. Truly, my heart leapt with joy.

I was having an okay day, which was following a really bad day . . . or two, but hearing my friend’s voice changed everything. My day instantly turned from okay to great. Regardless of what we would say, I knew it would be good for my soul. I knew my spirit would rise and soar.

I forgot about lunch. It no longer mattered. My physical hunger disappeared. A spiritual delight would soon replace it. I knew it. That’s what a timely call from a good friend can do.

After we covered the initial reason for the call, we updated each other on our lives, what was going on, and where God was at work. We ended by praying for each other. It was a meaningful spiritual conversation. God was present. We had a holy moment. It was good. So good.

An Intentional Interaction

A few days later, my bride and I were at an open house. We saw a lot of people we knew, waving at or saying “hi” to many of them. We talked with a few others, polite social conversation, talk that’s a challenge for me to maintain for any length of time.

Though it was nice to see them and chat with them, what we said did nothing for my soul and, I suspect, nothing for theirs.

Then another good friend waved hi, surprised to see me. I expected another polite, short, and inconsequential exchange. But he approached me with both a smile and intention. After a few moments of small talk, we dove into conversation that matters.

He shared his spiritual journey with me. And my spirit lifted as we celebrated God’s work in his life, his family’s, and his church’s. He asked about me and my writing and my spiritual journey.

Although small talk challenges me, having a meaningful spiritual conversation flows with much greater ease. Go figure. Though I’d approached this social gathering with equal parts expectation and trepidation, I left having told my friend that our time together was, “good for my soul.” And it was.

My Heart Burned Within Me

My reaction to my friends’ interaction reminds me of the Emmaus-bound disciples after encountering the risen Jesus. They said to each other, “weren’t our hearts burning within us when he talked?” (Luke 24:32). That’s how I felt with my friends.

In both instances my friends took the initiative. But I was a willing participant, embracing their move past superficial exchange and into a meaningful spiritual conversation.

Other times I take the initiative and pursue meaningful interaction with others. Sometimes they squirm against this and in other instances they acquiesce with caution, but many times they gladly go in the direction where I lead. We dive into deep, meaningful spiritual conversation.

How to Pursue Significant Spiritual Conversations

I desire to have these deep, meaningful spiritual conversations all the time, but I don’t. I’m not sure why this happens sometimes while other times it doesn’t. I wish I could naturally move into meaningful spiritual discussions all the time, with ease and without giving it much forethought.

But I’m not there—yet. Until I am, there are steps I can take to recognize the potential for significance and move forward to make the best of it.

Pray for Opportunities: It starts with asking God to provide occasions where I can have a meaningful spiritual conversation with others. Without him playing a part in opening my eyes to see the opportunities around me and preparing the hearts of others to engage in significant discussions, there’s not much I can do on my own.

And, as a bonus, by praying for the chance to talk with people about spiritual matters, my attention focuses on others and allows me to seize the openings God provides.

Look for People Willing to Engage in Spiritual Discussions: Sometimes people who know me and my heart will approach me, asking for prayer, seeking encouragement, or wanting to share their concerns. However, usually I must be proactive.

This means looking for people to talk to, people who may be hurting, lonely, or in need.

Listen to The Holy Spirit: Most important is to listen to the gentle prompting of God’s Spirit. If I bother to pay attention, the Holy Spirit will direct me to people I should talk to. And often, he will tell me what to say or ask.

I attempt to represent Jesus to them, and I hope their hearts warm when I do. Click To Tweet

The Outcome of Having a Meaningful Spiritual Conversation

When I do this, what happens next is astonishing. We enter into a holy moment. I attempt to represent Jesus to them, and I hope their hearts warm when I do, just as my heart burned within me after talking with my two friends.

This is what can happen when we have a meaningful spiritual conversation.

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

We Must Give God All Our Heart

Ten Things to Do Wholeheartedly for God

In our post Go All in For Jesus, we talked about the importance of giving God our whole heart, all our heart. The Bible repeatedly tells us to do things with “all your heart.”

This means to not do things halfheartedly, that is with a split allegiance or divided focus. Instead we must do everything with our whole heart, not half way but all the way.

This idea of doing things for God with our whole heart occurs in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. Half of them appear in Deuteronomy, but the most significant times are in the New Testament, quoting the words of Jesus, when he tells us to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Discover what the Bible tells us to do wholeheartedly:

1. Love God with All Our Heart

The most common thing we are to do whole heartedly is to love God. This is in both the Old and New Testament, first coming from God to Moses and even more importantly coming from the lips of Jesus.

We must love God fully (Deuteronomy 6:5, Deuteronomy 13:3, Matthew 22:37, Mark 12:30, 33, and Luke 10:27).

2. Serve God with All Our Heart

Another frequently mentioned instruction is to serve God wholeheartedly. This means we’re to work for him, to do things for him.

When we do things wholeheartedly our actions become a witness to others of how important God is in our lives (Deuteronomy 10:12, Deuteronomy 11:13, Joshua 22:5, and 1 Samuel 12:20, 24).

3. Turn to Him with All Our Heart

The idea of turning to God wholeheartedly shows up in three forms: turn to God (Deuteronomy 30:10), returning to God (1 Samuel 7:3), and return to God (Joel 2:12).

This idea of turning to God ties in with repentance. When we think of repenting as making a U-turn to follow Jesus, we know that we must do so with our full heart.

4. Seek God with All Our Heart

We must look for God, to go after him wholeheartedly. Jeremiah says that we if do this with all of our heart, we will find God (Deuteronomy 4:29 and Jeremiah 29:13).

5. Observe His Commands with All Our Heart

The Bible tells us things that we must do, which we must pursue wholeheartedly (Deuteronomy 26:16). The context refers to the Old Testament Law, but is that the extent of the instruction, or does it apply to the whole Bible.

6. Obey God with All Our Heart

Connected with the idea of observing God’s commands is to obey them (Deuteronomy 30:2). Though this may be two words that look at the same action, is it possible to observe something without obeying it?

7. Trust Him with All Our Heart

One of the better-known verses about this subject is a proverb to trust God with every bit of our heart (Proverbs 3:5). If we trust God wholeheartedly, that means we aren’t putting trust in ourselves or our situation. We’re handing all our trust to God.

8. Take Hold of His Words with All Our Heart

Next we are to take hold of God’s words (Proverbs 4:4). In Proverbs, Solomon instructs his son, but in this verse, it isn’t Solomon’s advice. It’s God speaking to Solomon—and to us.

9. Be Glad and Rejoice with All Our Heart

We are also to praise God wholeheartedly, with happiness and joy (Zephaniah 3:14). This may be through our worship music, but even better is when it’s through our actions and our words in everyday life.

10. Work at It with All Our Heart

In all that we do we must work wholeheartedly, not just to gain the favor of others, but also as though our work—all of our work—is for God (Colossians 3:22-23).

Though this verse specifically addresses slaves and their relationships to their masters, shouldn’t it also apply to employees and their relationships to their bosses?

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God Deserves All Our Heart

These are ten things the Bible tells us to do with all our heart, not halfheartedly but wholeheartedly. In doing so we honor God with our words and our actions. He deserves nothing less.

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

We Are Body, Soul, and Spirit

Most Christians Have a Worldly Perception of Themselves Instead of a Spiritual One

We live in a physical world. As such, we are readily aware that we have a body. If we stop to contemplate it, we may admit to the possibility of having a soul, too—whatever that means. But what about a spirit?

In our reality, which we readily see and experience, the idea of spirit seems a bit of a stretch. Yet, Paul writes that we are comprised of body, soul, and spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23).

However, he reverses the order. He lists spirit first, as if it is most important, then soul, and lastly body, almost as inconsequential.

Body, Soul, and Spirit

Though I don’t know the origin, I’ve heard it said, “We are a spirit, we have a soul, and we live in a body.” That saying is likely built on Paul’s teaching. Furthermore, our soul is said to comprise our mind, will, and emotion.

The more I think about it, the more I am intrigued—and the more I like the order of the words: spirit, soul, body.

We know our body is temporary; that is obvious. It will one day cease to function, and our body will die. Yet, our spirit will live on. This suggests our spirit is more important and significant than our body. If so, our spirit and soul should control our body, not our body dictating our soul or spirit.

Consider eating. Our body wants food, so we feed it, sometimes gaining weight in the process. Then we go on a diet. Our soul (mind, will, and emotion) resists the body’s insatiable call for more.

If we’re successful, we lose weight. But do we keep it off? Not likely—not unless our spirit gets involved. When our spirit is in control, our soul follows, and we keep our body’s cravings in check.

We are a spirit, we have a soul, and we live in a body. This gives us much to consider and can reform our reality, if we will let it.

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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