Sunday Reflections – Understanding & Improving Our Communication

You cannot NOT communicate. You are always communicating something. I heard this in a college class almost 20 years ago, and it stuck with me. Unfortunately, most of us make too many assumptions and spend way too much time following those assumptions about others’ communication. We too often fail to pay enough attention, or any at all, to our own communication abilities.

Realizing this, you can deliberately choose to improve your communication skills. To start, consider these 7 Essential Elements of Communication to be aware of as we seek to improve our ability to communicate.

  1. We judge ourselves by our intentions. We can’t really know for sure the intentions of others. But when we’re honest with ourselves and with a lot of help from the Word of God (Hebrews 4:12), we can better know our own intentions.
  2. We judge others by their actions. Since we can’t truly know another’s intentions, we usually base decisions about others on their actions. Maybe this is one reason showing faith by actions (James 2:18) is so crucial.
  3. People want validation & acceptance. We just want to be accepted and understood. This does not necessarily mean agreement with another’s opinions or actions, but it does mean a willingness to try to understand their perspective. Fortunately, when we fall short in this, God fills the gaps (John 6:37).
  4. Broad shoulders are invaluable. Having broad shoulders means not being offended easily and forgiving freely. Do You Have Broad Shoulders? Developing them improves your ability to communicate by removing the barriers of unforgiveness and misinformation.
  5. The Golden Rule is a terrific communication tool (Luke 6:31). Simply treating others how you want to be treated will improve communications in your relationships significantly.
  6. Seeking first to understand makes a huge difference. Before insisting on being understood, seek to understand others. Doing so not only improves communication, but it keeps you from looking foolish (Proverbs 18:2, 13).
  7. You can only change yourself. Replace old, ineffective habits with new habits that build relationships (Ephesians 4:22-24). Let your mind be renewed continually (Romans 12:1-2). Develop and grow the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).

A look at improving our communication skills is lacking to some extent if we fail to focus at least a little on how we handle conflict. Conflict is not only necessary, but it is also unavoidable. Fortunately, conflict can actually strengthen instead of tear relationships apart if we employ point #7 above by specifically looking at our own part in any conflict (Romans 12:18). Do this using these 7 Questions to Ask During a Conflict.

  1. Am I jumping to conclusions?
  2. Am I being insensitive or too sensitive?
  3. Am I being selfish?
  4. Am I doing God’s job?
  5. Am I trying to control others?
  6. Am I communicating clearly?
  7. Could I be the one who is wrong?

Relationships are a top priority for God (Matthew 22:37-39), and fulfilling His command to love others requires good communication skills. What can you do this week to improve your ability to communicate with others?

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How to… Participate at Halloween and Not Lose Your Witness

When I was growing up, we never went trick-or-treating. I don’t remember feeling like I missed out either. Halloween basically came and went as just another day. The only celebrating we did that time of year was doing something for my dad’s birthday the day before Halloween.

When I went to college, started living on my own and then for the first few years of married life, I continued to overlook Halloween. That all changed, though, when I became a mom. Not sure how my mom avoided this, but I suddenly felt pressure to participate in costumes and candy. Of course, it was for my son’s enjoyment, not mine.

Participating in Halloween never did and still doesn’t feel right to me. Something inside of me just feels awkward participating in Halloween festivities. My kids still want to dress up, so we’ve found seemingly innocent ways for them to do so through Fall Harvest Festival type events. We don’t allow certain Halloween activities like haunted houses, and we do our best to avoid the actual word “Halloween.”

Yet, I’m still not entirely comfortable with the Fall Harvest Approach either but acquiesce since I can’t quite come up with a solid argument either way. At least it separates us from the world’s approach to celebrating Halloween with ghosts and graveyards and glorifying evil.

And in my discomfort, I also fully realize that Halloween isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact, statistics indicate that Americans will spend $7 billion on Halloween this year with $2.5 billion going to costumes, $2 billion going to candy and, get this, $310 million on costumes for pets.

Stats like that take my mind in several directions. First, I wonder if people are simply curious about evil, like to dress up, or are bored because it’s been too long since the last holiday. Second, I imagine all the good that could be done with that $7 billion, especially when I realize the needs of missionaries around the world. Third, I wonder how much Halloween contributes to our overweight society. Lastly, I wonder what all those animals think about dressing up.

I also wonder if Christians can participate in Halloween without losing their witness. Honestly, I’m still struggling with answering that question. Turns out I’m not the only one. In What does the Bible say about Halloween?, Mary Fairchild addresses this somewhat controversial issue and aptly portrays the struggle that many Christians have with Halloween.

My personal approach reflects much of what Fairchild suggests. Here’s how I explain my Halloween perspective should the subject arise.

  1. Don’t make a big deal. What I mean by that is don’t tell people they’re evil for hanging a sheet from a tree in their yard and don’t forbid your kids from wearing a fun costume and playing games at church. Personally, we don’t decorate short of a jack-o-lantern towel in the kitchen and maybe a couple of carved pumpkins. And I try really hard not to shake my head in judgment when I pass by a front yard made to look like a graveyard. God is working on me here.
  2. Allow light festivities. My oldest dresses up for a Halloween Band Concert (he has to play in it for his grade but doesn’t have to dress up), and both boys participate in some sort of Fall Harvest Festival and carving pumpkins.
  3. Avoid obviously evil elements. No scary costumes. No skull or ghost decorations. No movies that promote and sensationalize darkness and evil. There are some elements that clearly epitomize evil, and we simply avoid them altogether.

I want to reflect the love of Christ in all I do and hope my approach to Halloween doesn’t hurt my witness in any way. But I also realize the importance of not letting the world change me. What do you think? As a Christian, how do you approach Halloween?

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Staying Committed, Part 3 of 5 – Biblical Lessons on Commitment

In order to stay committed and to keep commitments, in order to finish strong by Staying in the Boat until we cross the finish line, we need to focus on full commitment to God. We must be constantly reaching toward the Great Expectations He has for us with regard to commitment. His way is the only way to truly stay committed.

The Bible gives many examples of individuals who stayed committed to God and as a result kept their commitments to themselves and others as well. Their stories and lives provide terrific lessons we too can apply in our own struggle to stay committed.

Your commitment does not depend on the honesty of others. (Joshua 9)

Joshua made a mistake trusting the Gibeonites, yet he still kept his promise to them because he knew how God felt about keeping your word. Their being deceitful had no bearing upon whether or not Joshua kept his commitments even though doing so still had significant consequences.

Just because your circumstances change does not mean your commitment should. (Daniel 6)

Daniel showed commitment to God over a lifetime. His life spells out the most important aspects of keeping commitments: Extraordinary spirit, faithfulness, living according to God’s will, praying continually despite consequences, living under God’s protection & affecting others through commitment.

Your friends and culture do not have to agree with your commitment. (Genesis 7 & Hebrews 11:7)

Moses stayed committed to God even when he most likely faced tremendous peer and cultural pressures. Let’s be clear that scripture does not say he had peer pressure. We are making a pretty safe assumption based on the corrupt culture of the day and the fact that it had probably not rained since creation (Genesis 2:5-6). Moses kept to God’s instructions regardless of the influence of the surrounding culture or of his peers.

How you feel has nothing to do with whether or not you keep a commitment. (1 Samuel 1:11, 24-28)

Hannah was infertile and had prayed that God would open her womb and allow her to have a son. She then promised that son would belong to God “all the days of his life.” If you have children, remember back to before you had your first child. Did you even come close to imagining the depth of love you would have for him/her? With that in mind, do you think Hannah’s heart was breaking when she gave her son to the Lord while he was still very young? But she kept her commitment to God anyway regardless of what her feelings wanted her to do.

Making your life line up with God’s will sometimes means fulfilling back commitments. (Philemon)

Onesimus was Philemon’s slave who had escaped. He became a Christian, and Paul sent him back to Philemon to keep his commitment. Sometimes, we have back-commitments we’ll have to keep when we get right with God in any area of our lives.

You can still keep your commitments when others release you from them. (Ruth 1:16-18)

Ruth was under no obligation to keep her commitment to Naomi, her husband’s mother. Yet, she made the decision to stay with Naomi and never deterred from that decision. God blessed Ruth for her devotion. He blessed her for making a decision and following it all the way through totally and completely.

God Himself provides the perfect picture of commitment.

God has kept and/or is keeping His commitment to Israel (whole Old Testament), to Abram (Genesis 12:1-3 & Nehemiah 9:8, 23), and even to Satan (Genesis 3:15; 1 John 3:8; Romans 16:20; 1 Corinthians 15:25-26) just to name a few of the big ones. God was and is faithful to the unfaithful, rebellious, doubting & wandering.

He made His commitment to us before the world was even created. (Matthew 25:34), and His commitment to us shows we can trust Him. Likewise, when we stay committed, we build trust with God and with others.

DISCUSSION: What other biblical examples of commitment can you think of? Which one do you connect with the most & why?

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Sunday Reflections – But for the Warning in My Heart

The following conversation between Boromir & Frodo in The Fellowship of the Ring in which Boromir tries desperately to persuade Frodo to go to Minas Tirith instead of the way that Frodo has chosen reflects well the battle we all have between choosing God’s wisdom over the world’s wisdom.

Boromir: “I know why you seek solitude. You suffer. I see it day by day. You sure you do not suffer needlessly? There are other ways, Frodo, other paths that we might take.”

Frodo: “I know what you would say. And it would seem like wisdom but for the warning in my heart.

Boromir: “Warning? Against what? We’re all afraid, Frodo. But to let that fear drive us to destroy what hope we have… don’t you see, that is madness?”

Frodo: “There is no other way!”

Frodo’s way presents more obvious struggle, difficulty and even impossibility, and Boromir’s way does seem easier at least in the short term. But key in on the reason Frodo gives Boromir for his decision. Frodo tells him that a warning in his heart indicates that Boromir’s way exists as the wrong choice.

Earthly wisdom doesn’t ask for an invitation, and it requires little effort to understand. It pursues, much like Boromir pursued Frodo to persuade him. Worldly wisdom is relative, unique and different depending on an individual’s tastes, preferences and moods. Applying worldly wisdom lacks any complexity too. Just follow feelings, and the world’s wisdom easily takes over. In other words, do nothing to stop the world’s wisdom from impacting you, and impact you it will.

Godly wisdom, while infinitely more abundant, comes by asking God for it and gaining an understanding of His Word. Deliberately choosing Godly wisdom protects your heart against the world’s selfish and increasingly evil ways. When we learn to Develop Wisdom that comes from God and then apply it, we find that His wisdom creates a “pathway through the wilderness” and “rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43:18-19).

So why does the world’s wisdom sometimes seem so much easier to obtain and apply that God’s wisdom?

In our instant-gratification culture, easier often seems better and even feels better at least for a little while. Experience tells me, however, that easier often leads to more complications in the long run. God’s ways get at the root of our beliefs, attitudes, actions and words, something many people want to avoid for fear of what they’ll find.

The world’s wisdom provides a short-sighted solution to meeting a craving we all have inside of us. More stuff to have and do seems to be the solution for satisfying this craving. Yet, scripture tells of a very different way to fulfill that craving, which seems insatiable when filled with the wrong things. Because no matter how much sand you eat, it will not fulfill your craving for water!

“As the deer pants for the water, so my soul pants for thee, O God, for the living God.” (Psalm 42:1-2)

“My soul thirsts for Thee, my flesh yearns for Thee, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.” (Psalm 63:1)

“Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture said, streams of living water will flow from him.’” (John 7:37)

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty, I will give drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.” (Revelation 21:6)

Worldly wisdom never satisfies because, as Romans 2:15 says, God’s wisdom (His law) is written on our hearts. The world’s wisdom can never erase or write over that which God imprinted on our hearts – the warning in our hearts to live according to His will and His ways.

Only when we realize that and then pursue the only wisdom that can truly satisfy us to the core will we discover a burden that truly is easier and lighter than anything the world has to offer (Matthew 11:30).

DISCUSSION: How do you fight the lure of worldly wisdom and pursue the complete refreshment of God’s wisdom?

For more discussion on this topic, please read Piper: The Devil Says All Truth Is God’s Truth by Loren Pinilis at Life of a Steward.

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How to… Take Every Thought Captive, Part 1

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For over half my life, depression held my mind. The strength of its hold fluctuated, but I felt like its captive for so very long. About 12 years ago, God healed me from depression. Since then, He has been teaching me how to take my thoughts captive to prevent not only a relapse but to also lead me toward total and complete victory in this area.

So, how DO we take our thoughts captive? If we consider the word “captive,” it seems to indicate not letting something run loose and be free to fulfill its desires. When a person is taken captive, he can then be used as a tool by his captives to achieve their goals. A captive is subject to the desires, whims and even compulsions of his captors. That’s what happens with our thoughts too.

Let’s focus in on 2 Corinthians 10:5, which clearly indicates not only the need to take thoughts captive but the reason for doing so as well. The version quoted below is a combination of the NASB and the NLT.

“With these weapons, we are destroying speculations and breaking down every proud argument and lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God and that keeps people from knowing God. We take every thought captive and conquer rebellious ideas, instead making our thoughts and ideas obedient to Christ.”

What are these weapons? Verse 4 of 2 Corinthians 10 tells us that our weapons are not of this world. Ephesians 6:13-18 gives more specifics on the spiritual weapons available to Christians.

“Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints.”

Also known as the full armor of God, our weapons are truth, righteousness, peace, salvation, scripture and of course prayer. The Message version of Ephesians 6:13-18 says to “learn how to apply them.” In other words, just as a knight must learn how to operate in his armor as if it’s his second skin, so too much the Christian learn to “take up” God’s armor and operate in it in a way that is natural and efficient for battle.

Why do we need to take our thoughts captive? Both 2 Corinthians 10:5 and Ephesians 6:13-18 help answer this question. Paul tells the Corinthians to take thoughts captive that are “raised up against the knowledge of God and that keep people from knowing God.” And he tells the Ephesians to take up the armor of God to “extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” In other words, we need to fight against our flesh and against Satan in the world of our thoughts to keep them from drawing our focus away from God.

Please see How to… Take Every Thought Captive, Part 2 for a continuation of this discussion.

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Essential Elements of Christian Community

Check out my guest post Essential Elements of Christian Community at A Curious Band of Others.

Thank you to T. Neal Tarver for inviting me to post on his blog.

While you’re visiting A Curious Band of Others, check out some of my favorite posts by Tom.

Also, DEFINITELY CHECK OUT Tom’s book Dark Eyes, Deep Eyes. I  highly recommend it!

Staying Committed, Part 2 of 5 – Great Expectations

The foundation of our ability to carry out all other commitments in life – committing to Staying in the Boat – begins and ends with understanding and doing our best to live out God’s expectations with regard to commitment. His great expectations for staying committed exist as the gold standard for how commitment should exist in our lives. What are those expectations?

Total Commitment

Mathew 22:37-38 says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” In other words, when it comes to being committed, we first and foremost must commit totally and completely to God. You’re either in or you’re out. There is no in between.

Continual Commitment

Jesus’ words to a crowd of people, recorded in Luke 9:23-24, tell us that commitment to Him is a daily decision. He said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.”

Once we commit to Christ, there is no going back to our former way of living. This means we will have to say “no” to some good things. Following Jesus is not just a one-time event. It’s an ongoing, daily, moment-by-moment experience.

Faithful Commitment

Committing to Christ in faith means making Him our sole authority, our guiding light and our unerring compass. Paul, in Galatians 2:20, says it this way, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

We may not always understand, but being faithfully committed means we continue on in the way He has set before us.

Obedient Commitment

If anyone remembers much from Apollo 13, they usually remember the famous words of NASA Flight Director Gene Kranz who said, “Failure is not an option.” Because they refused to even explore the possibility that the astronauts would not return home safely, they were able to avoid tragedy.

At the dedication of the temple, Solomon praised God for promises kept and for bringing rest to His people, and then He said to the people, “Your hearts must be fully committed to the Lord your God, to live by His decrees and obey his commands.” (1 Kings 8:61)

Solomon was declaring that full commitment and obedience to God was not an option. If we approach commitment to God in the same way as Kranz did bringing the Apollo 13 astronauts home safely, we will be able to successfully live obedient lives.

In order to stay committed and to keep commitments in any area of life, we must first focus on total, continual, faithful and obedient commitment to God. No other option exists for Staying in the Boat and to finish strong by reaching the other shore successfully and victoriously.

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DISCUSSION: What is the state of God’s great expectations in your life?

Sunday Reflections – 30 Days of Funk

Today marks Day 14 of the 30 Days of Funk program my church’s (New Hope Assembly of God) youth group is doing. The point? Raise awareness and funds for Speed the Light, the mission focus of the youth group.

Awareness comes when people ask questions about the shirt. Funds are raised when the kids wearing the shirts ask those same people to sponsor them for wearing the shirt for 30 days in a row.

The same shirt for 30 days? On junior highers and teenagers? Yep! Oddly, the questions the kids get asked the most are, “Is that really the same shirt?” And “Aren’t you going to stink?” The answer to the first questions is “Yes!” The second question… “They can wash their shirts.”

While young people raising funds and awareness about missions is exciting all by itself, what I’m even more excited about lies with the personal impact I see it having on each of my boys individually as young Christ followers.

30 Days of Funk gives my boys a way to express their faith among their friends that isn’t intimidating to anyone. They are also talking about their faith more than they were before 30 Days of Funk began.

What’s more is that 30 Days of Funk has stimulated some good conversations at home too. Conversations about what Speed the Light does, conversations about how to talk to people about missions and about their youth group, and conversations about why being open about your faith is important.

Another cool aspect of 30 Days of Funk is that not only does it promote camaraderie within our local youth group but also among youth groups across Michigan who are participating in 30 Days of Funk. In fact, this program will culminate at the AG Youth Convention on November 2nd and 3rd with all of the kids from the various youth groups wearing their 30 Days of Funk shirts to the convention.

Now, I must be honest and say that there haven’t been any profound changes – no huge leaps – in my boys’ walk with God since this program started, but they definitely are talking more about their faith than they were before it. And since I’m a firm believer that small steps made over time add up to make a huge difference, I rejoice in these small steps that my boys are taking.

DISCUSSION: What small steps toward Christ have you seen lately that you can rejoice in today?

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How to… Overcome Frustration – I don’t know, do you?

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Many of the “How to…” posts I’ve written stem from a need in me to figure something out. For example, How to… Age Gracefully came about as I struggle to accept my middle-age status, and How to… Be Encouraging Just by Being You resulted from my attempts to learn to be a more encouraging person.

Some of the “How to…” posts come from a place of experience and a desire to save others from making some of the same mistakes I made. How to… Live an 80/20 Life, Part 1 and How to… Live and 80/20 Life, Part 2 are examples of this.

All of the “How to…” posts exist because of my belief that each person is responsible for his/her own walk. Others impact, sure, but ultimately only I can decide whether to walk the narrow, straight path or to meander aimlessly. I decided a long time ago that no one is going to keep me from pursuing Jesus. No one.

This post comes from a deeper place than any that have come before it. While all the others had at least some success to back them up, this one lacks victory. You see, frustration is a negative pattern I can’t seem to break. Maybe admitting that will be the first crack.

My biggest problem with frustration seems to be identifying the source, the place of origin. Sure, people and circumstances exacerbate frustration, but I don’t think they cause it. I think people’s actions, or lack thereof, often just trigger something that has lingered deep inside me for many years.

What triggers my frustration? Things I can’t control and shouldn’t have to control. Electronics – They should just work. My kids – Why can’t they see I just want what’s best for them? Friends – Do they really believe their way is always the best way? My body – I feed it healthy food & exercise, but it seems to constantly break down anyway. And let’s not even talk about how I feel about my hair!

And maybe the answer isn’t eliminating frustration. Maybe the answer is accepting its existence and then finding ways to more positively mitigate it rather than to constantly react when frustration overwhelms. Honestly, I’m not sure. What I am sure of is that anything I’ve done to this point has only buried the root cause of my frustration and not really dealt with it.

I hate that frustration triggers reactions in me I thought I had overcome. Reactions I’m too ashamed to admit on paper or out loud. Reactions that seem stronger at times than any good in me and that lead me to believe, if only for a moment, that I am still a mouthy, arrogant, temper-driven teenager and that I’ll never change.

Do you sense the frustration in my words? Do you sense that even though I know that “He who is in me is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4), I still struggle with letting that truth reign in this area of my life? Even worse, I struggle with seeing through my frustration enough to find scripture that would direct me toward healing in this area.

Perhaps the answer is that I can’t overcome this through struggle and reasoning and effort. Perhaps the answer, simply, is to continually take my frustration to the cross and to let the power of the Holy Spirit keep it from controlling me. I thought I had done that, but maybe I haven’t done that enough.

Maybe there’s still that child in me that was constantly frustrated by things she couldn’t control. Maybe she still wonders how she could have not felt overlooked and misunderstood all of the time. And maybe, just maybe, she has to simply admit that she can’t handle a bumpy road on her own, that no amount of “How to…” will fix her frustration.

DISCUSSION: I don’t know how to overcome frustration, do you?

For a related post reflecting this struggle with frustration, see Could this be your biggest source of irritation, frustration and even anger?

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Staying Committed, Part 1 of 5 – Staying in the Boat

Have you ever noticed how much farther the actual distance is over water than what it looks like standing on shore? Many people have thought they could swim further than they can only to find themselves in trouble when they get in the middle of the lake. Either that or they over-estimated their swimming abilities. They begin to tire, start treading water and then eventually drown if help doesn’t come.

This happens with commitments too. All too often, we think we can handle more than we actually can. We take on more and more commitments only to eventually find ourselves overwhelmed and drowning.

If we think of staying in the boat as staying committed to living life according to the Word of God, we realize that we have to first make that choice to get into the boat. We must decide that we aren’t going to attempt to swim across the lake on our own and that we do need get into the boat that will help us safely reach the other shore.

All too often though, we start out in the boat certain we will stay determined and finish strong, but we suddenly find that water surrounds us. Maybe our boat is sinking from over-commitment, like we’ve taken buckets of water and filled our boats to the point of overload.

Maybe we grabbed a life vest somewhere along the line and are now just floating along while life happens around us. Perhaps we decided to dive into the water because we think the boat isn’t going fast enough, and we are swimming and working and suddenly find ourselves horribly tired, treading water but barely able to keep from drowning.

And sometimes, we decide that the boat we’re in – lives committed to God and to live life according to His Word – doesn’t seem to be taking us in the right direction, and we jump into the next boat that comes along. We turn our attentions to the things of this world that seem to satisfy and meet needs initially but that eventually prove to be shoddy rafts that soon become water-logged.

Finishing strong – meaning staying in the boat and enduring to the final destination of eternity with our Creator – begins and ends with focusing on the great expectations that God has for how we live lives committed to Him.

For the next four Fridays, five Fridays total including this one, we will look at what the Bible has to say about staying committed. We will look at those great expectations, and we will explore some of the biblical examples of lives fully committed to God. We will also look at lessons we can learn from the Bible about commitment as well as guidelines for godly commitment and benefits of total commitment to God.

So climb into the boat! Make a commitment to live your life according to God’s great expectations. Start rowing by exploring commitment in a way that will keep the waters of life from overwhelming you and instead will allow your life to overflow with God’s rich blessings as you journey with Him to the other shore.

DISCUSSION: How do you view a life fully committed to God and living according to His Word?

Read the entire Staying Committed Series:

Staying Committed, Part 2 of 5 – Great Expectations

Staying Committed, Part 3 of 5 – Biblical Lessons on Commitment

Staying Committed, Part 4 of 5 – Guidelines for Godly Commitment

Staying Committed, Part 5 of 5 – Benefits of Total Commitment