Have you ever put a stalk of celery in colored water? What happens is that the celery starts to change color as the water is soaked up through the stem. It takes a couple of days to see the change, but soon the celery stalk will take on the color of the water it’s in. Celery also very quickly absorbs any poisons and pesticides in the air or in the soil.
All relationships take time. A relationship with God, while unlike other relationships in many ways, still follows the rules of other relationships. The Bible is filled with comparisons to help us conceptualize our relationship with God. For example, Christ is depicted as the bridegroom, and the Church is depicted as the bride. … Such intimacy involves time spent alone with one another.
In his book A Year of Living Prayerfully, Jared Brock describes in a humorous but poignant way his journey around the world to discover and explore how different believers pray—their practices, methods, habits, and styles. More than compile a list of techniques, he wanted to experience prayer in full from different perspectives and denominational outlooks. So he and his wife dedicated an entire year to the task.
When I think about how to sum up who God is in a single phrase, “unconditional love” comes to mind. Of course, God is many things and cannot be confined to one phrase or term, but as we know from 1 John 4:8, God is love. That is His very nature; it is intrinsic to who He is. It is one of His fundamental character traits. While that doesn’t mean that He loves everything we do—we are sinners, after all—nor that He overlooks or turns a blind eye to our sin or wrongdoing, nonetheless He loves His children unconditionally and forgives us if we are humble enough to ask Him to.
Stress relief has become a multifaceted, multi-billion-dollar industry. Armies of experts have emerged, dispensing advice of every sort. Some say the key is better time management—reduce stress by doing a better job of juggling everything we need to do. Others say the key is patience—be ambitious, but focus on less daunting short- and mid-range goals. Others tell us to reexamine our priorities from the quality-of-life angle and major on the things that count most. Still others take a more spiritual approach: Relieve stress through yoga, meditation, or other disciplines. Who are we to believe?
I am sitting in a small square in Sarajevo. Somehow I’ve always had the urge to come back here, to this country which suffered so much in the recent past. Memories are flooding my mind. I brought my two sons here when they were children to run around and to rollerblade. They ran, played, raced, and shouted excitedly. I watched, sometimes worried, always prayed for their safety, and once in a while helped them with a game or refereed their competitions.
Did you know that parking lots at midnight can be very romantic? I’m talking about the romance I experienced with Jesus while walking in a parking lot.
I needed to get some daily exercise and I only had two options: either go to the air-conditioned gym or walk in the warm outdoors. Since I get cold easily, I chose walking outside in the heat. However, I found that even for me, there’s a limit to the heat I can take. So since it was a very hot time of year, I had to wait until it was cooler outdoors—which turned out to be close to midnight.
Christmas is always such a busy time. You have more to do than usual. Your to-do list seems never-ending, the hours in the day seem shorter than normal, and the tendency to push yourself is compounded.
A lot of people don’t pray until they’re in some sort of trouble, and then they find their faith is weak and their relationship with Me is strained because they didn’t place much importance on Me before trouble struck. They feel hypocritical or undeserving when coming to Me in prayer, and they don’t know what to do or where to start to make things right.
Several years ago, my life was very uncertain. And in the middle of that loss, crisis, and stress, I began to question everything, down to the very foundation of my faith. I’d been very comfortable with prayer before, but then it became a struggle. Some days I was angry with God, some days I didn’t feel like I could trust Him, some days I just didn’t know what I felt.