'...Each of you must...speak truthfully to your neighbour...' Ephesians 4:25 NIV
Christian lingo: that strange language that means we say, 'Wow, that guy is really anointed at playing guitar' instead of 'Nice guitar playing, mate!'
Sometimes, to speak the truth effectively, we have to ditch the Christian-ese lingo. Sometimes for people to feel heard and properly related to, we need to say things a little more down to earth. This isn't to say that Christian words are wrong; Christian words can make tricky ideas plain and shed light on deeper truths. But, when these are overused, they can cause unseen barriers between Christians and non-churchgoers. To those who don't know much about this God-stuff, what do 'grace', or 'God bless you' even mean?
We can throw in the odd 'Christian-ese' word when it needs to be there, but it is so much better when we say, for example: Jesus put it all right for you' rather than, 'You have been justified through Christ'; or 'I don't understand either' rather than, 'God's ways are higher!'; The list goes on.
Let's talk about this amazing life we have through Jesus in a 'language' that others can get - to make the truth clear for them.
So what now? Look up a few typical Christian-ese words and reword them to use the next time you're with your un-churched friends. It could help to break down some old barriers and draw them closer to Him.
SoulFood: 1 Chron 4:24 - 5:26; Luke 11:45-54; Ps 119:1-8; Pro 20:15-18
'...What must I do to be saved?' Acts 16:30 NIV
An old lady spent her first flight sitting forwards awkwardly in her chair, elbows firmly on both armrests, looking straight ahead for the whole journey. When the plane landed the passenger next to her asked if she'd enjoyed the flight. 'It was alright' she said, 'but I didn't put my whole weight on it...'
The punchline: We do the same thing when we try to get along with God based on our own awesomeness - by working harder, praying longer, having a super lovely personality, or whatever. But, there's no way to do work that's been done for us.
In the natural we will never be able to get along with God because all the wrong we've done. Sin stops us from seeing or wanting God by ourselves. We can't trust in our own ability to get on God's good side; we just don't have that ability, any more than old ladies can cruise at 30,000 feet of their own accord.
But God's done something about you. He loves you. He looked past His own right to judge you or punish you, and absolutely embraced you - on the cross. He did it, and only He did it. He took the sinless-ness of Jesus and gave it to you. The moment you place your trust in Jesus, you're flying, with something you can lean back into with your full weight, and the full acceptance of God bearing you up and onward.
So what now? Thanking God that 'He did it' and then singing a couple of worship songs is a good back-to-basics way to start the day looking in the right direction, towards Him.
SoulFood: 1 Chron 3:1 - 4:23; Luke 11:29-44; Ps 78:65-72; Pro 20:11-14
'...He has sent me to proclaim freedom...recovery...release...favour.' Luke 4:18-19 NIV
If you look at ancient sea maps you'll see places that are marked with pictures of dragons ('Here Be Monsteres', sort of thing) to warn off sailors. Were the dragons real? Not very, but they were real enough in the minds of the sailors.
Think of a barracuda in an aquarium tank. A glass barrier divides one half from the other. Each time the barracuda tries to swim at it, it bumps into it. And if the barrier is then taken away, the barracuda won't swim beyond that point - because, yes, the barrier is still in its mind.
Jesus was sent to proclaim freedom, recovery and release. Satan will place barriers in your mind that say you can't go beyond a certain point in life. The barriers are lies. But a lie is as effective as the truth if you believe it and act on it. The Bible is filled with stories of people who were thought to be 'little' or way too insignificant to matter, who went on to smash through barriers they thought they couldn't. God used them to do amazing things. He'll do that for you too, no matter how small or limited you feel, if you ask for it.
So what now? A lie is as effective as the truth when you believe it. Christians are people of the truth, so ask God for His help to see where other people are struggling believing wrong things about themselves. Pray for ways to join Jesus today in breaking down those barriers in their lives.
SoulFood: 1 Chron 1-2; Luke 11:14-28; Ps 78:56-64; Pro 20:7-10
'...I tell you not to worry about everyday life...' Matthew 6:25 NLT
Jesus said, 'Therefore I tell you, stop being perpetually uneasy (anxious and worried) about your life...' (Matthew 6:25 AMP). Not because the stuff you're worrying about doesn't exist, but because committing it all to God throws our focus back on the One who can fully care for us, has cared for us, and is going to carry on caring for us.
Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJ) says, '...let your requests be made known to God, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds through Christ Jesus.' Another Bible version puts it like this, 'Then, because you belong to Christ Jesus, God will bless you with peace that no one can completely understand. And this peace will control the way you think and feel' (CEV).
When you're more caught up in your love for God than concerned with getting over your worry, you often find that the worry melts off like candle wax anyway. So, let your problems drive you into the arms of Jesus. And when you get there, stay there, ok?
So what now? Author and speaker Mark Yaconelli suggests this five-minute-long-ish activity you might like to try if you're feeling worried: Sit in a relaxed pose. Slow your breathing. Then relax your muscles, group by group, head to feet. Say with each breath in: 'Into Your hands', and with each breath out: 'I commit my spirit'. After a few minutes of this prayer rhythm, thank God, and get on with your day!
SoulFood: 1 John 3:11 - 5:21; Luke 11:1-13; Ps 78:40-55; Pro 20:4-6
'Benaiah...went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion.' 2 Samuel 23:20 NIV
Benaiah was one of King David's 'mighty men'. His résumé reads: 'Benaiah...was a valiant fighter...He...went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion.' That's what is called 'courage with cold feet'. The greatest courage of all is showing courage in the face of fear. Someone said, 'Courage is just fear that has said its prayers.' When you know you have heard clearly from God, you are filled with faith in that moment. It puts steel in your spine.
Benaiah's courage, especially with cold feet, is the reason he is a famously valiant member of King David's mightiest men. Because there is no middle ground to hide in, he fights the lion and he kills it. Thousands of years later, God and His people still look at this personality trait as characteristic of the God-centred soul: boldness, right at the moment that fear threatens to swamp you.
Think: when you can't keep your distance from the thing you're fearing, how do you respond? What puts steel in your spine when fear presses in?
So what now? If you're frozen with fear, for any reason, a good idea would be to ask some Christian friends if you can all meet up and pray about it. While it's great to ask for advice, simply praying together could actually be more powerful.
SoulFood: Ezra 9-10; Luke 10:16-28; Ps 78:17-31; Pro 19:27-29
'...They called the name of that place Baal Perazim.' 1 Chronicles 14:11 NKJV
There was a man called King David. The Philistines invaded his part of Israel. (They had a history... David vs. Goliath. Awkward.) But before David slapped on his swordbelt, He checked with God. He said, 'Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will You deliver them into my hand?' and God replied, 'Go up... I will...', so David fought and defeated the Philistines through God's power (1 Chronicles 14). Afterwards, David said, 'God has broken through my enemies by my hand like a breakthrough of water.' Therefore they called the name of that place Baal Perazim (which means 'breaking through') (1 Chronicles 14:9-11 NKJ).
What do we learn here? (1) David reminded himself that 'the Lord had made him king' (1 Chronicles 14:2). God called you, and His Spirit lives inside you. You are His. He is on your side. That's huge. (2) David simply asked God, 'Shall I go up against the Philistines' (1 Chronicles 14:10 NKJ)? Seriously. Just ask God. What is He telling you to do? Obey that, and you'll come out on top. (3) David gave God the credit: 'God has broken through my enemies' (1 Chronicles 14:11 NKJ). God does amazing things. Sometimes He does them for you, sometimes He does them through you. When He does something good, let the world know. When the breakthrough comes for you, make sure you remember to tell everyone Who made it happen. Sing His praises whenever you can.
So what now? Has God done something cool in your life lately? A breakthrough? Shout it out. Facebook it. Tweet it.
SoulFood: Ezra 6-8, Luke 10:1-15, Ps 78:9-16, Pro 19:24-26