The New Living Translation
Announcing the NLT Instagram Contest!

nlt instagram

 

Announcing the NLT Instagram Contest!

To celebrate the launch of the New Living Translation Instagram Page we are giving away your choice of an iPad Mini 3 or Apple iWatch Sport Edition, plus 25 copies of the NLT Illustrated Study Bible¹.

Here’s how to enter:

-Follow @NLTBible on Instagram – https://instagram.com/nltbible/

– Post a picture of yourself on Instagram with your NLT Bible and use the hashtags #ireadtheNLT and #openmyeyes.

Note: you can include any NLT print or electronic Bible in the photo. You can include your phone, tablet, or computer.  If possible, please show the NLT text on your device’s screen in the photo.

We’ll contact the winners on September 11th, 2015. (Winners will be contacted through Instagram direct message)

 

¹ Prize details:

 

Grand prize: one grand prize winner will be selected by 9.11.15.  The grand prize winner can select their choice of either an Apple iPad Mini 3, Wi-Fi, 16 GB, or an Apple iWatch Sport Edition 42mm Silver Aluminum Case with White Sport Band.  No data service is provided.

 

Prizes: Tyndale will give away 25 NLT Illustrated Study Bible, hard cover edition Bibles by 9.11.15.    Twenty-five winners will be selected, each receiving one NLT Illustrated Study Bible, hard cover edition.

No Comments
Whom Shall I Fear?

My daughter loves to be afraid. She rides the craziest, twistiest, highest roller coasters; has bungee-jumped headfirst off a 300-foot tower; and skydived out of an airplane last week. She reads scary novels, watches horror movies, and loves a ghost story around the campfire on a moonlit night. She’s not alone. We’re a culture who loves fear. Zombie movies, Stephen King novels, 3D amusement park rides—all best-sellers. We simply love to have the wits scared out of us.

Why is that? In a world that offers its fair share of worry, why would we seek out fear? According to Ilya Leybovich in his article “Scary Science: Why We Like Fear,” when our brains know that our fear is in a controlled situation, we enjoy the rush. The adrenaline rush is actually good activity for our brains, according to Men’s Health Magazine, which says that when we train our brains with controlled fear and stress, we teach our bodies to cope with the real stress that life brings. When we meet real fear, our response is “fight or flight.” The adrenaline we release when we are scared causes “a faster heart rate, quickened breath, pupil dilation to enable better vision, an increased metabolism to boost energy and more focused attention for faster decision-making.” Our survival relies on this adrenaline rush. We either put up our dukes or leave a puff of smoke behind us.

While we like the adrenaline that controlled fear brings us, none of us likes the real fear in our lives. The phone call about your teenager out with the car; the summons to the physician’s office after the MRI; that rumor about the forthcoming layoff; the letter from the bank about the loan payment you haven’t been able to make; the “thanks for coming to be interviewed but we’ve hired someone else” email. Many of us experience anxiety, paranoia, and angst on a daily basis. It doesn’t help that the media heaps on large doses of war, natural disasters, and crime, or that advertisers tell us we haven’t saved enough, exercised enough, or given our children what they truly deserve. We feel guilt, regret, and shame, all forms of innermost fear.

The Bible is full of stories in which people are scared. In fact, one of the most popular phrases in the Bible, showing up over 300 times, is some form of “Be not afraid,” indicating that people must have been pretty scared! God says it. Angels sing it. Psalmists write it. What usually follows “Be not afraid” is good news: the angels speaking to the shepherds, or God’s instructions to Moses, or the psalmists’ words of comfort.

I’m comforted to know that I never have to be afraid. My life is in God’s hand. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “ ‘I know the plans I have for you,’ says the LORD. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’ ” These words in Jeremiah are a form of “Be not afraid.”

Maybe you’re afraid of the upcoming college year or your child moving to a different state or a secret being revealed. The words of Psalm 91 should be of comfort to you. Read it each day this week, and feel God’s presence beside you in whatever journey you are on.

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High

will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

This I declare about the Lord:

He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;

he is my God, and I trust him.

For he will rescue you from every trap

and protect you from deadly disease.

He will cover you with his feathers.

He will shelter you with his wings.

His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,

nor the arrow that flies in the day.

Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,

nor the disaster that strikes at midday.

Though a thousand fall at your side,

though ten thousand are dying around you,

these evils will not touch you.

Just open your eyes,

and see how the wicked are punished.

If you make the Lord your refuge,

if you make the Most High your shelter,

no evil will conquer you;

no plague will come near your home.

For he will order his angels

to protect you wherever you go.

They will hold you up with their hands

so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.

You will trample upon lions and cobras;

you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!

The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.

I will protect those who trust in my name.

When they call on me, I will answer;

I will be with them in trouble.

I will rescue and honor them.

I will reward them with a long life

and give them my salvation.”

Get more articles to help you live out your faith, check out our free e-devotions, discover the NLT, and find just the right Bible at http://www.newlivingtranslation.com.

Ron DeBoer is a writer and educator living near Toronto, Ontario

 

 

 

No Comments
What’s Your Why?

Meet Mawi Asgedom. Mawi was born on September 29, 1976, in Ethiopia at the onset of civil war within the country. Mawi’s father had to leave the country when Mawi was a toddler, leaving him behind with his brother, sister, and mother. Every day, Mawi’s mother cared for her small children amidst war and death. Every night, she looked at her three sleeping children and wondered if they would survive another day.

Mawi’s mother knew what she had to do. Early one morning, she woke up the children and packed what little food and belongings she had. Then she began walking. For days she walked through war-torn Ethiopia toward the border of Sudan, trying to shake off the dust of fear and hunger and death.

Mawi’s mother knew that she might not make it. A mother traveling on foot with three small children is an easy target. Yet she kept walking, determined to reach Sudan, where she hoped she could find her husband.

She did. Reunited, the family spent three years in a refugee camp in Sudan before receiving the news that they would be sponsored by a family in the United States. They were going to America! In 1983, Mawi and his family settled in the Chicago suburb of Wheaton. They were poor. They didn’t speak the language. Mawi started school with virtually no formal education.

Nevertheless, he learned English quickly, and his teachers found him to be a bright student. He joined the basketball team and ran track. Nearing his senior year of high school, Mawi learned that he had earned a huge scholarship to Harvard University.

In 1999, just sixteen years removed from a refugee camp in Sudan, Mawi Asgedom delivered the commencement address to an audience of 30,000 on the campus of Harvard University.

Mawi was transformed by the sacrifice of his mother. Today, he speaks to teenagers all over North America, inspiring them to make the right choices, to never give up. He writes books for educators and has dedicated his life to making a difference in the lives of others. He has told his story on Oprah Winfrey’s show and has written about it in his best-selling book, Of Beetles and Angels: A Boy’s Remarkable Journey from a Refugee Camp to Harvard.

I met Mawi about a month ago. He was speaking to educators in Toronto about his mother’s sacrifice. Why did his mother walk barefoot across Ethiopia? She wanted to save her children and give them a better life. He encouraged us to ask ourselves, “What is our why?” That is, why are we motivated to do what we do as educators?

When I listened to Mawi’s story about his mother, the furthest thing from my mind was answering the question of “why” as an educator. Instead, I was asking myself what my “why” was as a Christian. As I sat taking notes, I found myself writing down other words: Jesus, the cross, my sins. My mind kept wandering across the world to the cross where Jesus was crucified. Enduring pain, humiliation, and rejection, Jesus carried through on his promise to his children. Just before his death, Jesus asked a “why” question himself: “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” (Matthew 27:46).

What was Jesus’ why? To save all people from their sins. This included those who rejected him, spat on him, and laughed at him. This includes those who today do the same.

What about you? You know the sacrifice Jesus made so that you could live. All Jesus asks in return is that you give your life to him and tell others of his wonderful journey: from life on earth, to death, to resurrection, to ascension into heaven. What’s your why? I don’t know about you, but if an average day of mine was put under scrutiny, I don’t think I’d like the answer to the question “what is Ron’s why?” I know what I would have to leave behind: my desire for material things, my need to climb the ladder at work, my dedication in ensuring my kids’ success, and my hours spent obsessing over my favorite sports team.

In Philippians 3:8-11, Paul talks of a life in Christ:

“Everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death, so that one way or another I will experience the resurrection from the dead!”

Let’s end our time in music with Hillsong United’s “All I Need is You”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MV63_Vmf-74&feature=related.

Get more articles to help you live out your faith, check out our free e-devotions, discover the NLT, and find just the right Bible at http://www.newlivingtranslation.com.

Ron DeBoer is a writer and educator living near Toronto, Ontario

No Comments
It’s All About Grace

I once heard a pastor start a sermon by asking the question, “When you look in the mirror, do you see a forgiving person who extends grace to people in their presence and in their absence, or do you see a person who speaks negatively of people, holds grudges, and makes sure people know you are not extending any grace to them because they have wronged you in some way?

The question pierced me.

The pastor challenged those of us in attendance to listen—really listen—to the benediction given at the end of each service, the common one Paul often used in his many parting words in his New Testament letters: “May the Lord be with you in spirit. And may his grace be with all of you” (2 Timothy 4:22). This is the benediction we all respond to weekly with a hearty “amen.” Perhaps you do, as well.

But how many of us carry God’s grace into our classrooms and workspaces and homes? We blame. We accuse. We hold grudges. We judge people’s decisions. We let pass opportunities to make someone feel good. We seek out and spread gossip about people instead of empathizing with their plight and losing sleep over how to help them.

But do we consciously look for ways to show grace to others daily in and out of their presence? In Colossians 4:5-6, Paul encourages Christians to “live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.”

We show grace to others because Christ first showed grace to us. Ephesians 2:4-10 says, “But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus. God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

This last line resonates in me. God created us “anew” in Christ Jesus. He created us and then he created us “anew” through Jesus’ death and resurrection—kind of like an upgrade. We are renewed and as Christians are filled with the Spirit. Spirit-filled people extend grace to others. They forgive them. They honor them. They encourage them. They build up their reputations. This is called kingdom-building.

The second half of this sentence is also significant: “…so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” God has a plan for your life. He gave you grace and he offers you his Holy Spirit so he can use you to build his kingdom. It’s as simple as that. We do it in our neighborhoods and schools and workplaces. We do it in our families.

As part of the practical application of the Christian Journey column, I would like to defer to Barbara Pachter, author of “Power of the Positive Confrontation,” in which she outlines ways we can employ Paul’s wisdom in Colossians when he urges Christians to allow their conversations to be gracious. Pachter outlines six ways to verbally show grace under pressure at our workplaces:

Let It Go. Understanding that people are under a lot of pressure can allow one person to cut another some slack. Sometimes it can be best to do or say nothing—just listen. Often the other person later will apologize for the outburst.

Agree with the Comment. A good defense is the best offense. People can agree with what someone says but add additional information that turns the comment around, such as, “You’re right. We did put a lot of people on this project because it’s important to get this information out to our customers at this time.”

Ask for Clarification. Ask questions or make comments to get more information: “Why are you saying that?” “Help me to understand what you mean by. . ..” “Tell me more about your concern.” “Are you saying it was. . .?” Probing makes someone less likely to appear wounded by the attack, and it also buys the person time to calm down and collect his or her thoughts.

Acknowledge What Has Been Heard. First, acknowledge what was said: “I understand your frustration” or “I hear what you are saying.” Then use the word “and,” not “but,” to provide clarifying information, because using “but” negates what comes before it. A defusing statement such as “There may be some truth to that, and we are looking at the numbers” or “That’s interesting, and you may not realize that we’ve been looking at those numbers,” can also let the person know that he or she has been heard.

Respectfully Disagree. Be polite but firm. Someone can say, “I disagree, and here’s why . . .”

Postpone the Discussion. Sometimes it is best to talk to the person privately. Say something like, “You obviously have strong feelings. Let’s get together after the meeting so we can discuss this issue in more depth.”   Get more articles to help you live out your faith, check out our free e-devotions, discover the NLT, and find just the right Bible at http://www.newlivingtranslation.com.

Ron DeBoer is a writer and educator who lives near Toronto, Ontario.

No Comments
Why Does Theology Matter?

The first day of the semester in my New Testament classes (a general education requirement), I am greeted by upwards of 25 pairs of deer-in-headlights gazes and dropped jaws. My best efforts to alleviate their fear of diving into deep theological waters about a faith many of them have grown up with fail miserably. Yet we trudge on.

The difficult journey over the course of the semester is worth it. Many preachers and theologians will talk and write about the value of studying theology as making sure we believe the right things. I also want my students to understand the Gospel.

Theology by definition means, “what is said about God.” Within Christianity, there are many theological systems: Reformed/Calvinism, Arminianism, Wesleyanism, Liberation, Orthodox, and Charismatic/Pentecostal are some of the main ones. Unfortunately, my students’ journey of theological study, like others’ is marked with obstacles put in place by well-meaning theologians and staunch adherents to any one of these theological systems. Preachers and authors will make significant efforts to draw distinctions between their position and the rest, often mischaracterizing them.

The theological discipline does help us distinguish what is true. In Paul’s day, there were what he calls “false teachers” who distorted the truth of the gospel. Knowing Christian theology—what Jesus and the eyewitnesses to his life, teaching, death, and resurrection say—is the gospel. It is the Good News of God’s love for us when we were far from him, as illustrated for us in the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32), demonstrated by Jesus, and explained in His and other New Testament writers’ teaching.

After years of studying theology formally and serving with people from several of the major traditions, I’ve discovered this: On major issues, they agree. They may use different language to interpret and explain them, but they believe the same thing. Unfortunately, we have allowed secondary issues to divide us.

In addition to helping us understand the gospel clearly, studying theology also provides a window into the holiness of God and the sinfulness of humanity. We like to focus on behavior when we talk about sin. According to the Bible, sin is born in the heart. When done well, studying theology takes us beyond simply learning new words and concepts. As a means of discipleship (following Christ), it has the potential to help us better reflect the image of Jesus in our attitude, choices, and actions toward each other.

The third benefit to studying theology is to discover how God desires us to live as the community of faith. The hard work of loving each other and staying focused on God’s mission of proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world sounds like a grand adventure, and it is. However, it’s difficult and costly.

Theology matters not just for seminaries and pastors. It’s critical for the church—that all of us—may deeply know God who calls us according to his purpose (Romans 8:28), to learn his ways, and after counting the cost, to live by them.  Get more articles to help you live out your faith, check out our free e-devotions, discover the NLT, and find just the right Bible at http://www.newlivingtranslation.com.

Jack Radcliffe is a husband and father of four, coach (www.redwoodcoach.com) ministry trainer and speaker, dean of the Youth Ministry Institute of the Tennessee Conference UMC, and adjunct professor of educational ministry at Martin Methodist College. He has an MDiv from Ashland Theological Seminary in Ohio and a DMin in Practical Theology, Adolescent Development, and Culture from Fuller Theological Seminary.

No Comments
How Did We Get the Bible?

God used quite a variety of writers and circumstances to compose what we now call the Bible. God took his time. In fact, at least 1,500 years passed between the writing of the earliest books to the writing of the last books of the Bible. Yet despite the passage of generations and nations, the message of the Bible maintains a startling consistency. Dozens of writers contributed to scripture, yet they present a unified voice—God’s Word. Many minds went into the writing; one mind provided the inspiration—God’s Spirit.

The apostle Peter summarized the process when he wrote: “Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophets’ own understanding, or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God” (2 Peter 1:20-21). The apostle Paul offered the best known statement regarding the Spirit’s work behind the scenes in creating the Bible: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right” (2 Timothy 3:16). Only God could have brought into being this amazing book we now get to hold in our hands.

Jesus Christ is the focus of Scripture. Walking the road to Emmaus on the morning of his resurrection, Jesus gave two disciples a survey of the Bible: “Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27). The Scriptures to which Luke referred in that verse were the Old Testament writings. If the ancient Hebrew Scriptures were all about Christ, then certainly the New Testament has the same central figure and purpose—Jesus.

In answering the question, “How did we get the Bible?” we need to remember that the process had those two major steps. (1) The Old Testament represents God’s Word delivered to and through the Jewish people before Christ, and (2) The New Testament represents God’s Word written by Jesus’ followers during the first century.

In the majority of the New Testament books or letters, we have a pretty good idea who those writers were. The main principle that emerges is the fact that the authors had personal knowledge and contact with Jesus. As to how we ended up with twenty-seven “books” in the New Testament, it’s important to realize that no individual or small group or church council ever sat down and sorted through a huge stack of “possibilities” from which they selected the “books” of the New Testament. The role of individuals and groups in the formation of the New Testament had more to do with recognition than choosing.

At certain key points, believers gathered and confirmed the fact that a collection of writings had demonstrated a unique and shared tone, content, background, and power that set them apart as “volumes” in God’s Word. There’s a lot of history and many opinions about the process, but in the end we are face to face with a collection of books that speak in harmony about God’s work in history and God’s dealings with his creation, centered on his own visit to the world in Jesus Christ. God inspired all of scripture (2 Timothy 3:16), and his character pervades every verse.  Get more articles to help you live out your faith, check out our free e-devotions, discover the NLT, and find just the right Bible at http://www.newlivingtranslation.com.

No Comments
Teen Slimline Bible NLT Giveaway!

slim

The popular Teen Slimline Bible in the New Living Translation is now available for the first time with thumb indexing to help teens find passages quickly. The presentation page and cover design creates an overall theme using 1 Corinthians 13:13. Includes a 53-page dictionary/concordance that helps teens locate passages on various topics, 8 pages of full-color maps, pink ribbon marker, and thumb indexing tabs.  Click here to check it out for yourself.

Want to win a copy for yourself or a friend?

 

We’re giving away 25 copies, and it’s easy to enter!

Fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Follow the directions for sharing to earn extra entries. We’ll choose 25 winners on July 20th and contact them by e-mail.

 

Thanks for stopping by!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

(Form not loading? Leave a comment letting us know you shared this giveaway with your friends and we’ll count that as your entry.)

20 Comments
Little Things Matter
“Aren’t the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than any of the rivers of Israel? Why shouldn’t I wash in them and be healed?” So Naaman turned and went away in a rage. But his officers tried to reason with him and said, “Sir, if the prophet had told you to do something very difficult, wouldn’t you have done it? So you should certainly obey him when he says simply, ‘Go and wash and be cured!'”
2 Kings 5:12-13, NLT
In 1962, the Mariner I space probe was scheduled to travel to Venus and provide information to NASA scientists. It never got there, as it plunged into the Atlantic Ocean four minutes after takeoff. An investigation was launched into the cause for the crash and was later traced to the computer program directing the spacecraft. It turned out that somewhere in the program a single minus sign had been left out.For some people, living out the basics of the Christian faith isn’t exciting enough. Too insignificant. Not brave enough. However, the way a follower of Jesus handles small things, both in attitude and execution, determines to a large extent how they will handle larger things.Naaman learned a lesson about this in today’s passage. He was a mighty warrior of Aram but had leprosy. After getting permission to visit Elisha the prophet, he planned out in his mind exactly what would happen: Elisha would meet him, wave his hand, and call on God to heal him.

Instead, the prophet sent a messenger to Naaman, who told him to wash in the Jordan River seven times. Naaman was upset with this cure. He wanted something with a little more fanfare. But his officers called him on his attitude and encouraged him to take Elisha at his word. When Naaman decided to bathe in the Jordan, his small act of obedience cured him of his leprosy.

So take the time to get to know God through consistent prayer. Read about the characters in the Bible and their triumphs and failures. Make the most of the opportunities the Lord presents, no matter how insignificant they may seem. After all, little things do matter.

Source: Free Leadership Devotional. Find an e-devotion that’s right for you at  http://www.thenlt.com/06devotionals/

No Comments
The Two Cures for Discouragement

Failure often gets us down, but have you noticed how we can also get discouraged after we’ve been successful? The Bible teaches that discouragement has two sources because we have two problems:

  1. The world is damaged. God says, “The ground is cursed because of you” (Genesis 3:17). Just as thorns grew up to frustrate Adam’s work, much of our work, our parenting, our relationships—even our worship—results in discouraging failure.
  2. We are damaged. We misplace our priorities. Instead of seeking God himself, we stuff our souls with career or family or a love life or church involvement. But success in these things still leaves us empty and discouraged. The Teacher in Ecclesiastes confesses, “As I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind” (Ecclesiastes 2:11).

Non-religious people tend to respond to discouragement by saying, “Learn to love and accept yourself.” But this only addresses emotions. Religious and moral people tend to say, “Work harder and do better.” But this behavior-based approach leads to more failure and deeper discouragement. The Good News of Jesus is that God defeats discouragement. Jesus people look beyond superficial behavior or emotions. We rewire our hearts to deal with both sources of discouragement:

  1. Faced with failure, we remind ourselves that Jesus died for us so that we may surely share in every blessing of God and in the new earth, free of frustration, that God is creating.
  2. Faced with success, we work with God’s Spirit to reorient our priorities around Jesus, who said, “Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29).

Full healing won’t happen in this life, but Jesus is a true fix for discouragement because he offers heart-level change punctuated by joy in our acceptance by God. Along the way, God offers gifts that help with discouragement. The Bible sets joyful, godly priorities and tells of God’s unshakable love. “The Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled” (Romans 15:4). So we must read the Bible. Worship and the sacraments are the Spirit’s tools. God says of his worshippers, “I . . . will fill them with joy in my house of prayer” (Isaiah 56:7). So we must attend church. Community lets us share struggles and burdens. The Bible tells us to “encourage one another” (Hebrews 10:25). So we must commit to share often and honestly with other believers. Along with all this, God offers himself. The Father communes with us in prayer, the Spirit enters our hearts, and Jesus the Son emptied his life for our sakes. God has invested himself totally, that we may praise and enjoy him. So be encouraged. Jack Klumpenhower is a freelance writer, communications consultant, and church curriculum writer living in North Carolina.

No Comments
What Keeps Us from Trusting God

This morning while reading Jeremiah 4, I didn’t get very far before having to stop—at verse 1. “If you wanted to return to me, you could” (NLT). We often approach God and faith as a fix-all for what ails us. We look to the Bible and maybe to people who are close to God to diagnose our problems and prescribe the solution.

For others, the Bible can become to us an instruction manual that we pull off the shelf to use when we need to troubleshoot life. Or, for the more cerebral of us, it is a science project that requires academic tools to dissect it in order to discover what makes us tick. All of these approaches leave us well short of one of its intended purposes: to know and trust its author.

So when we read a simple verse like Jeremiah 4:1, we’re caught off-guard. Our usual uses of faith and the Bible are confronted here with clarity. We don’t have to try to fix life’s brokenness or get to the bottom of what the Bible is really saying. If we wanted to return (and turn) to God to receive life, we could. If we wanted grace and repentance to be more than concepts, we could experience them. The opportunity is there. So why don’t we want to?

Jeremiah’s audience had grown impatient with God and decided that the religions of surrounding countries were worth a try. They traded devotion and loyalty to God for these other religions’ statues (idols) and practices. They didn’t believe that God would care for and protect them, and, in general, have their best interests at heart. They became dependent on them even though they did them no good.

Reflecting on the state of Western Christianity, it’s not difficult to find glaring similarities. Our attitudes and actions tell the story. We’ve become dependent on political powers, charismatic personalities, economies, and even church systems, and it’s hard to let go. They protect the brokenness and pain we continually seek healing for. They keep the truth of the gospel at a distance—nothing more than something to learn about. Their role in our lives keeps us from deep intimacy with God and experiencing the full and whole life he desires us to live.

Jeremiah 4:1 goes on to say, “You could throw away your detestable idols and stray away no more.” Oh, we have a choice? Yes. And it’s easier than it seems. In leadership coaching, when people get stuck in a pattern of thinking, attitude, or actions despite all their attempts to change, it’s almost always because they don’t have something to move toward. Ours is a culture where we work hard at eliminating our weaknesses. Try as we may, we fail. As Peter Drucker said in the 1970s, we make ourselves mediocre.

We fail because we’re only trying to say no. Only saying no keeps us captive to the idols. Having something else to grab onto makes it a lot easier to let go. The journey to the full life we seek involves saying “Yes” to and clinging to Jesus and his gospel.   Get more articles to help you live it now, check out our free e-devotions, discover the NLT, and find just the right Bible at http://www.newlivingtranslation.com/.

Jack Radcliffe is a husband and father of four, Coach (www.redwoodcoach.com) ministry trainer and speaker, Dean of The Youth Ministry Institute of the Tennessee Conference UMC and adjunct professor at Martin Methodist College. He has an MDiv from Ashland Theological Seminary in Ohio and a DMin in Practical Theology, Adolescent Development and Culture from Fuller Theological Seminary.

No Comments