Last week, I was driving around a curve that I drive multiple times a day and a truck coming towards me flashed its lights at me several times. I immediately slowed down because I could tell he was trying to tell me something. This was not a one-time, get your attention thing. This was an (almost) obnoxious spectacle. I mean, it was probably 15 times or so. I got to the end of the curve and sure enough, there was a police officer sitting pretty far back in the shade waiting to find someone speeding. Not even a quarter of a mile further up the road was another cop. This was “get the quota in” day. 😉
As soon as I saw the two cops I thought, “Wow! I’m so glad that he warned me!!” Not that I want to cheat the system (I think what he did was technically illegal…) but I was so appreciative. Arkansas roads whindy and hilly and I have a large, heavy vehicle. This is a road that you don’t really even have to try to speed on. The hill is so steep that my car just flies down it. I don’t want to hand over hard-earned money for something like that. My next thought was how do I pass on the info to the other people driving so that they don’t drive into this trap, without getting a ticket myself for warning them.
When we can see danger ahead, we should share that with the people who are following us. I am seeing some things that are making me want to flash my brights and say, “Hey! There’s danger ahead! Slow down!”
I have been on a personal journey with the Lord for about the last month that hasn’t felt very good. The Lord has been challenging me on some attitudes that I have wanted to hold onto. I felt like they were my right to have and the Lord had other ideas. I have also had fears that I have wanted to carry around and the Lord has been exposing them. He has been correcting me quite a bit. That’s what parents do. We discipline the ones we love. (I have a lot of scripture for this post. Consider this your Bible reading for the day. 😉 I think it is important for where we are going, so please read through it.)
“5 And have you forgotten his encouraging words spoken to you as his children? He said,
“My child, don’t underestimate the value
of the discipline and training of the Lord God,
or get depressed when he has to correct you.
6 For the Lord’s training of your life
is the evidence of his faithful love.
And when he draws you to himself,
it proves you are his delightful child.”
7 Fully embrace God’s correction as part of your training, for he is doing what any loving father does for his children. For who has ever heard of a child who never had to be corrected? 8 We all should welcome God’s discipline as the validation of authentic sonship. For if we have never once endured his correction it only proves we are strangers and not sons.
9 And isn’t it true that we respect our earthly fathers even though they corrected and disciplined us? Then we should demonstrate an even greater respect for God, our spiritual Father, as we submit to his life-giving discipline. 10 Our parents corrected us for the short time of our childhood as it seemed good to them. But God corrects us throughout our lives for our own good, giving us an invitation to share his holiness. 11 Now all discipline seems to be more pain than pleasure at the time, yet later it will produce a transformation of character, bringing a harvest of righteousness and peace to those who yield to it,” (Hebrews 12:5-11 TPT).
I try to write about what the Lord is doing in me and then share that with you. This one is the same way but it will come off a little stronger than normal. I hope that you can hear my heart coming through the screen. This is not a judgmental, mad Tif saying, “Get it together.” This is me saying, “I see areas where we have room to grow.” The Lord has been highlighting this stuff in me too.
Here is what I want to flash my lights and say, “Be careful!” about: We want to feel good and be encouraged. We want to be seen and acknowledged. We want our time to shine. BUT, we don’t want to be asked to serve or give, are quick to get offended and, if we show up to church at all, we want to slip in late and leave early. We are critical and opinionated and we really don’t want to get called out for our sin. We want all the good stuff, but we don’t want to work for the discipline to get it.
I just want to say, PLEASE slow down. Let the Holy Spirit examine you.
I got saved during the “Turn or Burn” phase of Christianity. Instead of being motivated by grace and love to find salvation, I was scared of hell. It was intense and I am glad that most churches aren’t fear mongering to evangelize anymore. However, I think the pendulum has swung too far the other way. That’s often what happens when we go to an extreme – the response is to run to the opposite extreme. While I don’t want to put fear into people, and firmly believe in grace, I do believe that we need to land somewhere in the middle. Heaven and hell are real places. Our behavior should change and fruit should be evident after we decide to follow Jesus. Our love for Him requires a response. He calls it holiness. Holiness is not a mean word. It is a Bible word.
“As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy,” (1 Peter 1:14-16 NLT).
I think in an effort to grab the attention of the next generation; some churches have become a little afraid to deal with hard topics. I LOVE that we are reaching them. I just want us to equip these guys to make it for the long haul. It would be like sending a young person on a backpacking trip with an empty backpack. Or even worse, letting them keep their old stuff in there for this new trip. I want to put the stuff they will need for the journey in their bag: discipline, contentment, joy, conflict management, basic knowledge of how and why to study your Word, how to have a conversation with Jesus, how to heal from emotional wounds, etc. I also want to see the old stuff go: gossip, envy, pornography, lying, cursing, selfishness, comparison, etc.
“Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes,” (Romans 12:2 TPT).
I was an outsider to this whole Christian world when I joined the church. I brought in all kinds of craziness with me. It took time and trusted mentors to help me unpack my bags.
Over the next couple of weeks, we are going to camp out in Hebrews 12 and do a series on verses 12-17 (I have them posted below if you want to read them). Those scriptures are building blocks that we will teach us how to be healthy and not give up when following Jesus gets hard. We will talk about some tough stuff so come ready to dive deep. And feel free to share with anyone who has been asking questions about what’s next after you ask Jesus into your heart.
To prepare for the next couple of weeks, I want you to ask yourself a few questions:
- Where am I unyielding to the Holy Spirit? In what areas do I want Him to leave me alone?
- Would people believe that I was a Christian from my behavior (fruit)?
- What does it look like to live separate from the world and still show the world grace and love?
I was driving to church this past Sunday morning and got behind an ambulance. I could see that there was an older gentleman with his eyes closed in the back on a stretcher. The lights were not on so I couldn’t tell if he had passed away or if it just wasn’t a major emergency. I was on my way to preach a Mother’s Day message on running with courage (link), and here I was behind a man either at the end or very near the end of his race. It reminded me of a very simple, yet profound truth:
Life with Jesus is a marathon – not a sprint.
We are always training and growing. We never arrive until we stand in Heaven before our Father. I want to hear Him say, “Well done good and faithful servant (Matt 25:23),” when I am done with my race and I want to equip you for the same.
Let’s not be afraid when He disciplines us. We are His children and it is out of love that He challenges us. I am right here in the middle of this process with you.
12 So be made strong even in your weakness by lifting up your tired hands in prayer and worship. And strengthen your weak knees, 13 for as you keep walking forward on God’s paths all your stumbling ways will be divinely healed!
14 In every relationship be swift to choose peace over competition, and run swiftly toward holiness, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. 15 Watch over each other to make sure that no one misses the revelation of God’s grace. And make sure no one lives with a root of bitterness sprouting within them which will only cause trouble and poison the hearts of many.
16 Be careful that no one among you lives in immorality, becoming careless about God’s blessings, like Esau who traded away his rights as the firstborn for a simple meal. 17 And we know that later on when he wanted to inherit his father’s blessing, he was turned away, even though he begged for it with bitter tears, for it was too late then to repent,” (Hebrews 12:12-17 TPT).