Friday, June 28, 2019

Making Space for the Kingdom of God

The Christian life in the modern world
Balancing everyday life with the life of faith

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
Matthew 6:33 (NLT)

I’m steeped in 3rd century church history right now and learning how monasteries got started. I’ve always found this simple life of devotion appealing. Had I been Catholic, I’d have considered becoming a nun. My brother still teases that I could be Amish, and I admit being attracted to their lifestyle.

Surprisingly, this highly devoted lifestyle resulted from the legalization of Christianity. When worshiping God was illegal, every Christian was highly devoted because identifying with Christianity was socially and physically costly. Anyone refusing to worship the plethora of cultural gods was odd and sometimes faced arrest, torture and death.

However, when the Roman Emperor Constantine favored Christianity over pagan religions, Christianity became popular and the increase in the number of believers resulted in a decreased commitment to faith. New believers often blended their old practices with Christianity. So those who sought deeper connection with God separated themselves from the watered down, tolerant, popularized Christianity to focus their attention on devotion and service.

Is stepping away from the hubbub of daily life necessary for deep connection?
Is commitment greater when there’s a cost or consequence?

It’s impossible to measure the depth of spirituality in today’s world, but I notice my own struggle to balance the pace of everyday life with my devotion to God. Sunday commitments keep me from worship. My schedule doesn’t permit space for consistent prayer and contemplation. I yearn for and recognize the benefit of spiritual retreats specifically designed to focus on faith.

How can we balance the demands of modern society and stay attuned to God?

Prioritizing concerns that are important to God ensures a day in the Kingdom. (tweet this)

#SeedsofScripture @Cathy_Chung #KingdomofGod #modernsociety #spirituality

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Believing "In" or Believing "That"

And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.
1 Corinthians 15:17 (NLT)

I’ve been exploring the expansion of the church after the New Testament. All the church had to work with were oral accounts of Jesus’ teaching, the Jewish scriptures, Paul’s letters, and the Holy Spirit. From these teachings, certain universal beliefs emerged. The church was piecing together the rest.

·        When and how should we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection?
·        Was Jesus human or merely spiritual?
·        Was Jesus the same as God or separate and subordinate?
·        Was the God that Jesus represented the same wrathful God of the Jewish scriptures?

No one intended to mislead, but sometimes they incorrectly proposed doctrine that contradicted another accepted truth. They were careful to test every new idea against scripture and the teachings of those who knew Jesus personally.

Ultimately, the church denounced ideas that risked salvation. An idea that described a Christ who could not save us must be wrong, because they knew Christ’s death and resurrection earned our salvation. An idea that described humans as not needing salvation by God must be incorrect, because humans cannot save themselves.

Why was getting it right so important?

Because the church wasn’t establishing rituals to perform routinely.  It was true. They didn’t merely believe in God. They believed that God had acted in history to create the world, send His Son, die on the cross and rise to life again. It actually happened and it changed every person’s eternity.

How would you describe the difference between believing in God and believing that God saves us?
How does it impact your life?

We don’t merely believe in God. We believe that God acted in history for our salvation.

#SeedsofScripture @Cathy_Chung #JesusSaves #Truth

Thursday, May 2, 2019

I Forget to Pray

And we are confident that He hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases Him.
1 John 5:14 (NLT)

I just signed up to receive a daily email reminder to pray. Why? Because I forget.

A friend shared a family issue with me recently because she “knows I’m someone who prays often.” A response flashed through my mind: I should tell her I don’t pray as often as she thinks. I remained quiet, but resolved to honor her request (and I have). I’m just as distracted by my busy schedule as anyone else, so reminders to pray regularly are helpful.

By maintaining a rhythm of focused time with God we gain patience, kindness, and purpose. God hears our prayers and pours out fruits of the Spirit that we can’t manufacture by ourselves like joy, gentleness and self-control.

Our prayer time isn’t merely about asking for and receiving things from God. It’s about relationship. People in relationships hang out together. They share exciting news and things that hurt. They talk about issues that concern both of them and those that are important to the other person. Healthy relationships are two-sided.

Establishing a relationship with an invisible God is a little trickier. It’s easy to forget to stay in touch with God when the kids need breakfast, the dog needs a walk, the meeting starts in a few minutes, and this pace keeps up all day. So reminders to read scripture and pray are helpful.

We’re in this together, supporting one another in seeking a deeper relationship with God. (tweet this)

Do you sometimes forget to include God in your day?
Do you notice a difference after prayer time?
What helps you maintain this habit?

#SeedsofScripture @Cathy_Chung #quiettime #fruitoftheSpirit #relationshipwithGod

My newly designed website is almost ready. I’m excited for the big reveal later this month.

Monday, April 29, 2019

I Didn't Think I Was Lost

For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.
Luke 19:10 (NLT)

This verse isn’t for me.

I’m not lost. I know where I’m going and what I’m doing and when I don’t, I Google it. I don’t need help - I can handle it. Sound familiar?

Nor did I feel lost before entering into a relationship with Jesus. Life was proceeding as expected. This stay-at-home mom hung out at playgrounds and playgroups, volunteered, carpooled, and managed life pretty well. Busy and sometimes stressed, yes, but lost? No way!

Until I admitted I was.

I’ve believed in Jesus my whole life, but my relationship with Him began during a Bible study class. I found a way to squeeze in (almost) daily prayer and quiet time and began to look forward to this personal time. Before opening my Bible, I opened my heart and shared thoughts I didn’t share with anyone – thoughts of guilt, grief, inadequacy, and unhappiness. Only by slowing my pace, becoming vulnerable, and allowing God to bring healing to hidden feelings, did I realize I was lost.  

God’s promises of love, forgiveness, and guidance changed my life. God knew me and still loved me. Jesus was persistently seeking me but my self-sufficiency pushed away His offer to save me.

Saved from what? Saved for what?

Salvation isn’t about heaven after death. It’s about flourishing in this life, knowing our intrinsic value and security as God’s beloved, finding joy in following Jesus’ way of loving selflessly, and debunking the world’s lies about what’s important.

When we admit our need for Jesus, He makes a real difference in our lives.

Do you feel a little lost? Jesus can help you find your way.

#SeedsofScripture @Cathy_Chung #quiettime #Jesussaves #Iwaslost