Blessing. You can’t just pray for it. You have to put yourself in the place where God’s blessing already dwells. Where is that?

1) Family
Time with your spouse, your children, your family is never wasted time. Family is a well of God’s blessing. But cheat your family, you’ll end up with a well of regret.

2) Devotional time.
Time with God is not wasted time. Reading and meditating on God’s word, prayer that adores God and requests of God, is where God’s blessing fills your soul and flows out of your life. Cheat yourself of time with God, you cheat yourself of eternal perspective.

3) Community.
Time with God’s people is never a waste. Without community you will bang your noggin against the ceiling of emotional and spiritual growth. No-one wants to continue struggling with the same issues from three years ago. Cheat yourself of community, you cheat yourself of victory and maturity.

4) Financial Generosity.
Sacrificial giving is never wasted money. When Jesus said (commanded!), “do not worry” but “seek first [give first to] the kingdom,” he was dealing with money. Do you want God’s blessing of provision on your finances? Seek Him first. Give tithes and offerings.

5) Humility.
Humility is not thinking less of ourselves but thinking of ourselves less (C.S. Lewis). It’s decreasing ourselves and increasing others. There’s no threat or loss here. On the contrary, just as rain runs off the high places and puddles in the lowest places so God’s blessing puddles on those who get low in humility.

6) Forgiveness.
Anger, sleepless nights, pits in the stomach, revenge fantasies, come with grudges. Contentment, peace, freedom, and ability to get on with life comes with forgiveness. Forgiveness does not let him or her off the hook. It lets you off the hook. And repositions you under God’s blessing.

7) Purity.
John Piper once said, “God is not a kill-joy, He’s just against what kills joy.” Resisting ungodly desires and behaviors does not mean you are missing out. It means you’ve situated yourself under God’s blessing. Cheat yourself of purity, you cheat yourself of God’s peace and pleasure.

There you have it. So put yourself under the spout where God’s blessing is already pouring out!

What else would you add? Which of these meant the most to you? Which are hard for you?

Speak+Truth (1)The time will come when we must confront loved ones with truth to protect them from themselves and/or protect others from them.

Love always involves truth. Truth should always involve love. If you have truth, but not love, you will sound like a gong (1 Cor. 13:1). They will hear nothing you say, only the way you say it. If you have love, but not truth, you most likely won’t confront at all. Or worse, you’ll unintentionally endorse or excuse their sin and their self-destructive and others-destructive behavior.

The balance is speaking the truth in love. But what’s the best way to do so? Consider these:

Motive
Are you grieving, burdened, and fearful for them? Or do you look down on their choices and behaviors as if you are above those choices and behaviors (and therefore above them)? Do you see yourself beyond being tempted by or behaving in ways that they are? Have you taken the log out of your own eye (Matt. 7:3-5)? By the way, never hide behind that question as a reason not to confront either. We must deal with our own logs (sins, secrets, failures, habits, shortcomings), nail them to the cross, and with the grace of God go to the one we are burdened for, grieving for, and kept awake at night for.

Timing
There is no easy answer about the timing of confronting someone with truth in love. It comes down to specific situations and the specifics of those situations. Wisdom is a must. Proverbs 15:23– “To make an apt answer is a joy to a man, and a word in season, how good it is!” A word in season…. The timing of your words is crucial when confronting someone. The right word at the wrong time can be damaging, hurtful, even relationship ending. Keep praying for yourself and them until the time is right.

Tone
Tone is everything. Everything! You can have the right motive, the right timing, but if your tone is off, you’ve lost your opportunity—perhaps for good. That’s why you never confront in a text, email, Facebook message, or letter. I’ve learned this the hard way. Tone cannot be communicated properly in those forms. It’s a one way conversation. Perhaps a hand-written letter as a last resort, but just that—a last resort. Truth and love is displayed when you take the time and energy to courageously risk your relationship with the person and meet with them face to face to share your heart. But tone—facial expression, body language, verbal language—matters.

For the hardest heart Solomon writes, “A soft tongue breaks the bone” (Proverbs 25:15). “Bone”… the hardened heart of defiance and resistance they carry toward you and your words (Tim Keller). Perhaps they even wield a verbal bat toward you! Don’t waver in your love and truth. Don’t lose courage. Wield the truth like a bone-cracking feather in loving motive, loving timing, loving tone.

addictionI came across this in a doctor’s office a couple of weeks ago. Sobering, literally. Had to share…

If this letter speaks to you, please get help. Cry out to Jesus. Plead to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Call a friend or family member to surrender yourself to get help. Call a pastor. Call a counselor. Join a group. Fight for your life. May today be the first day of your freedom.
Continue Reading…

Sabbatical Reflections

June 26, 2016 — 27 Comments

JJFireIt’s good to be back. I’ve been on a Sabbatical of rest and reflection for the last seven weeks. What a tremendous gift from Grace’s elder team and the Grace family. I can’t believe the seven weeks are already over. But I’m ready to jump back into the joyful grind of preaching, leadership, and ministry.

In the coming days and weeks I know I’ll be getting questions about my sabbatical. So I thought I’d answer a few here. Continue Reading…

JJ