“Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’” Matthew 16:24 (ESV)
Follow God. Great advice when you’re handing it out; however, it is very difficult when it’s said to you as you’re dog paddling. I wish I could say (when my nice life changed into a not-so-nice life) that “Follow God” was my first thought. Unfortunately, it was more like “Why me?” and “What did I ever do to deserve this?”
While I was praying (and reminding God that I was doing everything a “good Christian” should do), He made me aware that I was not doing some things that I really needed to do. I needed to TRUST Him and FOLLOW Him, completely. Finally, I did what I knew to do all along: I let God lead. It was a slow and often painful process, yet it changed my life for the better. It wasn’t like a 30-minute sitcom where everything is swiftly, neatly resolved. It took years of stress, loss and strife in my family. But God had a plan—a better plan—and now there is joy, restoration, and a stronger relationship with Him.
To love God and develop a relationship with Him is the best decision you will make. The decision to follow Him will give you hope and joy, even when your life isn’t so nice. He did that for my family and me. At just the right time, God brought us to The Cove, placed some truly wonderful friends in my life, and provided me with an awesome job. It’s great to be a Christ follower! - Lynn McGlothlin
Fear, chaos, anxiety, and stress often seem to rule my life—maybe because I am bombarded with news on a daily basis. We are constantly informed of—and now can almost instantly see—the harsh reality of our sinful world.
It’s the perfect excuse. It’s why I often allow myself to lean into fear more than I lean into faith. Fear is easier; it surrounds us and is almost promoted and encouraged in the world today.
It takes courage to lean into faith when we don’t know the outcome of a decision we need to make. We don’t know the prognosis of the bad news we just received. We don’t know if all the bills will get paid this month. We don’t know how to answer the “tough” questions.
Sure, it's easier to lean into fear during the difficulties of life, but it isn’t satisfying. When I lean into fear, I find that I am hopeless, upset, and in a worse place than where I started. Following Jesus—by leaning into faith during difficult circumstances—takes courage. It is often difficult to trust when the outcome looks bleak. But I find that when I choose to follow, choose to trust, and lean into faith, my soul has peace; my circumstances seem bearable, and I can rest in the fact that our Heavenly Father has a perfect plan. I challenge you to begin to truly follow Him by turning from fear and leaning into faith. - Dani Finkbiner
Have you ever been working your way through a normal day and then get a phone call that completely blows it up? For example, your child calls and they were just in an auto accident. Your wife calls; she just heard from the doctor that she has cancer. Or your boss calls you into an impromptu meeting and you find out you are being let go effective immediately. It’s amazing how quickly a single event can change the course of your day, as well as your attitude for facing it.
Job, a man who was blameless and upright, had many such “phone calls.” First, he loses all of his property, and he receives news that all of his children have died. Then he is stricken with painful health issues. As his story continues, he is surrounded by three friends to whom he begins to justify his attitude about his situation by saying, “my complaints are just and my life has no hope.”
After a fair amount of back and forth with his friends, who sometimes blame Job, sometimes accuse him, and sometimes remind him to follow God, God finally responds. The Lord reminds Job that He is in complete control and finishes by asking him, “Shall a faultfinder contend with the Almighty? He who argues with God, let him answer it” Job 40:2b (EVS). Job then promises silence and repents. What God does next is truly amazing to those who stay faithful and follow Him in all circumstances—The Lord restores Job!
In those moments when that phone call comes, first go to God in prayer. Then be silent and listen. He can and will lead you through any “phone call” or crisis that comes your way. Following God and turning towards Him should always be our first reaction. - Patrick Weber
Every day our lives are inundated with the opinions of the world, whether it be face to face, on social media, or in the news. Everyone has an opinion…about the president, our education system, homosexuality, you name it! But not all opinions are truth. I’ve found myself waking up in the middle of the night, stewing about what someone posted on Facebook, thinking, “Someone needs to set them straight!”
Jesus tells us to be in the world, but not of it. So our constant connection to the world is a dilemma for those of us who are trying to follow Jesus. It is so easy to air our opinions, to want to share what we feel is God’s Truth. So the question becomes, should we? If our Facebook/Instagram/Twitter friends do not share our values or opinions, we can start to view them as our enemies. However, Jesus commands us to love them. Loving those who oppose us shows great character and is a clearer testimony of our walk with Christ than any judgement we could pass. If we are called to be more like Him, if we’re really trying to follow, Paul said for us to deal with them “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,” Ephesians 4:2 (ESV). Loving someone doesn’t always mean you must correct them. James reminds us that we may not be able to tame our tongue, but from the same mouth should not come both blessing and cursing. Jesus said to “do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” Luke 6:27-28 (ESV). A silent prayer may do more good than a roaring response. - Jessica Burleson
As someone who accepted Jesus when I was young, I didn’t understand until many years later what it really meant to have a relationship with Him. Like most of us, I tend to focus on what’s in front of me, so because I couldn’t physically see God, I neglected Him. I was blind to the benefits of an intimate relationship with Him.
So what did I do instead? I looked for fulfillment in all the wrong places, whether it was in someone or something. Once I was married, I looked to my husband to fulfill me, to bring me joy and meet all my needs. I didn’t realize how unhealthy and unfair to my spouse this really was, until God opened my eyes. God started the process by asking me to take a hard look at myself and to be honest about where I was falling short. If I had done this in the beginning of my marriage, the road would have been less bumpy, but God brings good from all things. We’re still together 18 years later.
Through the years and with God’s help and grace, I’ve found balance. Ultimately, I learned to put God first—in and above all things—while building a closer, more intimate relationship with Him.
The Bible says we should seek God in all things. He also knows our heart’s desire and He will meet our needs, according to His will. Are you seeking and following Him on a regular basis, in the big decisions and the everyday ones? Are your closest relationships healthy? Or are you looking to them to fulfill you in ways that only following closely after God can satisfy? - Lynn Berchoff