In psychology, metanoia involves experiencing a psychotic breakdown and then subsequent, positive rebuilding and healing. My journey through depression was a metanoia. In fact, this blog – Struggle to Victory – aptly describes that journey.
Do you have a metanoia that’s now a part of your testimony? If you’re a Christian, the answer is “Yes!”
The Bible talks a lot about metanoia.
Matthew 3:8 – “Bear fruit in keeping with repentance.”
Matthew 3:11 – “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
Mark 1:4 – “John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”
Luke 5:32 – “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
2 Corinthians 7:9 – “As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us.”
Repentance is metanoia. It is a transformative change of heart that leads to life transformation.
All too often, it seems like “fellowship” means the same in practice as “visiting.” “Fellowship” is simply used as justification to visit without making commitment to the relationship.
But are they really the same? Or, is “fellowship” something more than merely “visiting”?
One of the best ways I can think of to understand fellowship comes from my favorite movie and book series, Lord of the Rings. More specifically, the first in the series: The Fellowship of the Ring.
This first book/movie in the series involves individuals bound to one another because they were working toward the same goal. Because of that journey, though, they developed deep bonds of friendship.
This exemplifies what fellowship is really meant to be. Beyond
visiting, fellowship is a process of developing deep and lasting relationships.
A Threefold Cord
The Bible offers a description that while not using the word
“fellowship” certainly describes this idea of deeply-developed companionship
and the role it can play in a person’s life.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)
Fellowship gets at eradicating loneliness. It solidifies encouragement.
And, it provides stability and strength for persevering when life become
Going Beyond Visiting
This better understanding of fellowship motivates me to move beyond only visiting with my fellow Christians, especially the ones with which I interact regularly. Fellowship leads me to efforts toward developing depth and moving well beyond, “Hi. How are you?”
I’m looking forward to developing depth in relationships and moving beyond just visiting. I’m looking forward to more fellowship. Won’t you join me?
In The Purpose Driven Life, Day 3, Rick Warren begins by
asking this question:
“What drives your life?”
In the discussion, Warren talks about “quiet desperation”
and “aimless distraction.” All of us can probably describe what each of those
means and be able to give examples of what they look like within our own lives.
Each of us also knows how these really mean that we’ve lost
focus on what drives our lives. A truly frustrating state of mind, to be sure.
While we could look at this topic from a variety of angles,
let’s focus on only one. In Warren’s words…
“You become effective by being selective.”
Taking on too much. Worrying. Being too busy. People
pleasing. Mediocrity. Following feelings. Seeking acceptance from the world.
Approval seeking. Making comparisons.
That’s my list. It’s what overwhelms me if I’m not
selective. If I fail to focus and instead follow fads and feelings, I’m not at
all effective. Instead, I’m depressed and frustrated, all because I’m not being
Being selective means choosing best over good enough. It means
pursuing expertise instead of being a generalist. Most important, for
Christians being selective means letting God decide who, what, when, where, why
How does this happen?
God’s word to Joshua when he was likely feeling overwhelmed
be being thrust into leadership and given an overwhelming task to accomplish gives
us the instruction we need.
“Keep the law always on your lips. Meditate on it day and night, careful to do everything it says. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” (Joshua 1:8)
For the Christian, then, being selective means:
Knowing God’s Word fully.
Studying God’s Word continually.
Obeying God’s Word completely.
Leaving the results up to God.
Being selective involves walking a God-directed path. We can only know the steps to take, though, if we know God’s directions. Only then will we be effective in truly eternal ways.
“Surrendering to God doesn’t repress your personality, it enhances it.” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)
Enhancing something means raising it and amplifying it. It
means improving it in value, quality and attractiveness.
That’s what God does with our personalities, the uniqueness he
gave each of us, when we make Jesus Lord. For this enhancement to be fully active
in our lives, we must realize what surrender means and why it’s important.
Surrender to God means giving up control of our lives to
Him. It means seeking to know and do his will.
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
It also means we trust him to do what is best for us.
“’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (Jeremiah 29:11)
God desires unity, not uniformity. He wants each of us to
operate in the unique combination of gifts and abilities he’s given us. In our
uniqueness, then, unity and success of the body as a whole happens.
“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body – whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.” (1 Corinthians 12:12-14)
Years ago, my college Intrapersonal Communications teacher started a class session with this statement:
“You cannot lie to yourself.”
He explained that this is because we eventually believe what we continually tell ourselves. In other words, even though what we’re saying may be a lie, our minds eventually accept and act on it as truth. Essentially, then, we can reprogram our thinking with lies.
What’s more, research actually supports this assertion.
“Above all, don’t lie to yourself. The man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point that he cannot distinguish the truth within him, or around him, and so loses respect for himself and for others. And having no respect, he ceases to love.” (The Brothers Karamazov by Dostoyevsky)
“Self lies are the worst lies…” (Richard Bach)
Most significantly for Christians, the struggle with lying to ourselves is also confronted in the Bible.
“Keep my from lying to myself; give me the privilege of knowing your law.” (Psalm 119:29)
Self-deception is the worst type of lie because it reprograms how we think, and the way we think determines the reality of our lives. For this reason, we need to regularly let our minds be renewed.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)
Our culture seems to condone self-deception. The follow-your-feelings, seek-your-own-truth pattern of the world seeks to conform our thinking. It’s telling us that lying is acceptable if it fits with your personal truth.
Refuse to conform to this worldly pattern. Regularly assess your thinking by getting in God’s word and letting it transform you. Know God’s will, so you can regularly cast down any thinking that conflicts with it.
“Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32-32)
While the extremes vary, everyone experiences changing seasons no matter where they live. Even Hawaii changes seasons, though not an extreme difference and only between two different seasons (summer and winter).
If you think changing seasons are unchangeable events, think again. Climate change experts say that the timing of seasons is now changing.
The Earth’s seasons have shifted back in the calendar year, with the hottest and coldest days of the years now occurring almost two days earlier, a new study finds. This shift could be the work of global warming, the researchers say. (Timing of Seasons is Changing)
Yes, even the changing seasons are becoming more unpredictable, though if you live in a place like I do (Michigan) that has always been the case.
Our season changes are extreme, and you simply love or hate it. I’ve actually heard of people missing the extreme changes after moving to a place with less seasonal change. Also, every time we enter a new season, someone (often a person who has lived in the area for many years) expresses surprise over it happening.
If you live in an area of extreme seasonal changes, you have to admit to the beauty of every season. I’ll admit, it’s sometimes hard to see when it’s hot and humid or rainy or bitter cold or there’s a foot of snow on the ground or you experience rain, fog, snow and cold with a 40-degree temperature drop all in one day.
Change – unexpected or not – keeps life interesting.
Our lives have seasons too, some expected and some not. Some people embrace the change, some resist; most do both, and all are at times surprised when change takes place.
Staunchly resisting change is futile as well as unhealthy. We all know this both by observation and experience, but it doesn’t stop us from stubbornly resisting change at times.
Why do we sometimes resist the changing of life’s seasons and other times embrace them? Why do we in our hearts often wish things wouldn’t change?
The answers to these questions are unique to every person. What we all have in common, though, is the need for stability within change.
Stability Within Change
Stability within change is essential for thriving as the seasons inevitably change in our lives. For Christians, this means focusing on God who does not change.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8 )
“Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens.[a He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.” James 1:17
As the seasons of life morph in both expected and unexpected ways, I am learning to lean heavily on Jesus. The hope he gives keeps me stable amidst the changes of the many extremes in my life.
“This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.” Hebrews 6:19
Determination can be good or bad depending on your focus. It also lasts or fades depending on the approach we take to maintaining it. As Christians, our goal is to maintain a God-focused determination.
Let’s look at three individuals in scripture from whom we can learn a lot about a God-focused determination.
Ezra’s determination teaches us that we must be hearers, doers and teachers of God’s Word. (Ezra 7:9-10)
Daniel’s determination shows us that resisting the surrounding culture is not only possible but necessary. (Daniel 1:8)
Paul’s determination illustrates the need for complete focus on the finish line. (1 Corinthians 9:26)
These men teach us a great deal about staying determined, and they set examples we can and should follow.
Through Ezra’s, Daniel’s and Paul’s examples, we see that staying determined is possible. In addition, the Bible clearly indicates where our determination should focus.
Avoid sin: Know your convictions before you are tested. (Job 31:1)
Stand firm: Stand in faith, and you will be protected. (Isaiah 7:9)
Follow Christ: Let Him lead you in every area of life. (Mark 8:34-38)
How to Be Determined
How do we obtain and maintain an enduring God-focused determination? Let’s again look to Ezra, Daniel & Paul for answers.
Ezra praised God for giving him favor. He also went to the Lord with concerns. (Ezra 7:27-28; Ezra 9)
Daniel had a habit of prayer that he maintained even when facing death. (Daniel 6:10)
Paul, who wrote much of the New Testament, often included prayers filled with thanksgiving, prayers for others, as well as prayer requests for his ministry. (See a list of Paul’s prayers on Scripture Zealot.)
Habits of prayer, praise and thanksgiving are keys to constant God-focused determination. Also, never forget that God promises to help us stay determined.
“For the Lord God helps Me, therefore, I am not disgraced; therefore, I have set my face like flint (a stone), and I know that I will not be ashamed.” (Isaiah 50:7)
We live in a time when taking personal responsibility is happening less and less. That means what the Bible says about taking responsibility stands more and more in contrast to our surrounding culture. Let’s look at one example of this.
“Do your part to live at peace with everyone as much as possible.” (Romans 12:18
When I read this verse, I immediately ask, “What’s my part?” The specific answer to this questions varies from one situation and person to the next, so it’s important to continually seek the answer.
Each one of us also has to realize that we are each responsible only for our own efforts. We cannot force anyone to act peaceably toward anyone else. Also, we must face the hard truth that living at peace with everyone isn’t always possible even if it’s always the goal.
The Bible has a lot to say about how to live at peace with others. Many verses offer guiding principles for doing our part in every situation to continually “live at peace” with others.
“Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.” (Psalm 34:14)
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. (Matthew 5:9)
“But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.” (Matthew 5:39-41)
“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14)
“Live in peace with each other.” (1 Thessalonians 5:13)
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” (Colossians 3:15)
Some of these verses give specific instructions for living at peace with others, such as turning from wrong and doing good and not retaliating when someone wrongs us. Others simply restate the command. All of them cement the truth as integral in the lives of Christians.
We simply cannot escape that God wants us to do whatever we can to live at peace with others. That doesn’t mean we compromise convictions and values to keep the peace. We must, however, exhaust our efforts to live in peace with others through personal responsibility and sacrifice.
Only through the transforming power of God as His Holy Spirit works in us is this possible.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23)
Did you notice that everything we need in order to live at peace with others exists as fruits of the Spirit?
Most of us want to live a well thought out life. We want to be deliberate about our choices and how we respond to life. Unfortunately, life gets so busy and overwhelming sometimes that we end up living far from intentionally.
No matter how busy we get, we can choose to incorporate certain activities that help us live more intentionally than not. Let me say it another way. If your life seems reactionary and out of control rather than intentional, there are some habits that can help flip that.
While the specific actions may look different from on person to the next, living intentionally does have some foundational aspects that every Christian can incorporate.
Rest. Take time to be still at least every morning and evening.
Listen. Pay attention to the people in your life, the face-to-face not electronic life.
Experience God’s presence. Get outside and go for a walk or just sit and listen to nature. Let Him fill your thoughts.
Partner with Jesus. Our effort alone won’t get us there; don’t be too proud to ask for help.
If you’re busy and overwhelmed right now, your first response/reaction is probably something like, “How? I just don’t have the time.” For now, let me offer the following Scripture by way of encouragement for making the time, for making these activities non-negotiable.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
“The Lord replied, ‘My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’” (Exodus 33:14)
“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, [Jesus] said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’” (Mark 6:31)
“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.” (Psalm 37:7a)
“This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.’” (Isaiah 30:15)
“He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted on the earth.’” (Psalm 46:10)
Busyness and overload continually draws us into reactionary mode. Learning to respond instead of react is important, but we can only do that if we deliberately decide to incorporate these habits no matter how busy we are. It’s sort of like telling the chaos it’s not in control of your life even if you feel like it is.
Ready to move back into intentionality?
Start with these Biblical principles. Be stubborn about consistently incorporating them, and you’ll find God’s peace, power and presence dominating your life more than busyness and overload.
Want more? The following posts can help you develop a more intentional life.
As Christians, we believe the Bible gives us all we need for right living. As God’s inspired word, it tells us all we need to know to love God and love others (Mark 12:30-31). The Holy Spirit is our partner in this and helps us understand and navigate God’s word (John 16:13).
Sometimes, though, the answers to life’s questions don’t obviously appear in Scripture. We know we need to pray and let the Holy Spirit work in us for understanding, but that understanding often takes longer than we’d like. We also have to admit that sometimes, even after seemingly endless study and prayer, the answer remains, “I don’t know.”
There are many clear answers in the Bible. Some answers aren’t as clear as we’d like. Either way, we know we have what we need to live and think as God desires. The book of Proverbs is a great example of this mix. Much of its content and application is clear. Others, not so much. Some, it often seems to me, is both. And there’s good reason for this mix.
The Pursuit of Wisdom
Take Proverbs 2 for example. My study Bible titles this chapter as “The Pursuit of Wisdom Brings Security.” Essentially, the chapter’s main ideas is that pursuing wisdom will lead you to the right course of action every time.
Here’s my summary of the first half of the chapter.
“If you receive my words and store them up… if you turn your ears to wisdom and apply your heart to understanding… if you seek insight as much as you seek the things this world values most… then you will understand how to respect God and find the wisdom of God… He will give you knowledge and understanding and success and protection. You will know every good path to take because wisdom and knowledge will be a part of who you are. Discretion and understanding will protect and guard you.”
What I hear God telling me is to make seeking wisdom through His word a habit. He’s telling me to let His Holy Spirit reveal wisdom to me through the Bible and through other people. When I do this, not just when I’m struggling but also when I’m not, He promises to show me the right steps to take just. He promises to direct my steps (Proverbs 16:9).
God is saying that we should expect to hear wisdom and gain understanding when we make seeking it from Him a habit. We need to look for it continually and make an effort to understand what He’s revealing to us (meditate on it). We must ask for insight and understanding. He promises to give it to us.
If you’re still not sure how to get the wisdom of God and what it means for your life, read the entire book of Proverbs. While there are a lot of specifics in it, focus just on the directives specifically about wisdom. Consider listing them in a journal. I promise you’ll come away with a greater understanding of the wisdom of God along with a greater passion for seeking it.