An Ephesus Question: What Comes First in Our Relationship with God?

One thing more than anything is essential in your life today.

All Christians long to live pleasing to Jesus Christ. That’s why if Jesus told us He had a criticism for us, many of us would pull out our checklist and grab a pencil.

An Ephesus Question: What Comes First in Our Relationship with God?

(Photo: Ephesus theater and the Arcadian Way. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

We’d make our way down the list and ask the Lord:

  • “Should I go on a mission trip?”
  • “Do you want me to pray more?”
  • “Maybe memorize the book of Romans?”
  • “You just name it, Lord, and I’ll do it!”

I have discovered that the weak points in our relationship with God never start with failing in the big things. For example, we would never consider waffling in our morality or our theology. It always comes when we ignore a more basic element.

The church in Ephesus did it. But we don’t have to.

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Why Your Dreams Come True is Actually a Temporary Fix

Life is still just life, no matter where you are.

Okay, so it finally happened. What you’ve waited on for years. Maybe you got the dream job. Better salary. More responsibility. Better fit. Flexible hours. Your dreams come true! But wait.

Why Your Dreams Come True is Actually a Temporary Fix

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Only after taking the job do you discover that more responsibility means you’re managing people, and people bring challenges. Flexible hours mean you never feel like you’re working enough. And along with that salary come more expenses.

Why is it when our dreams come true, it’s a lot like before?

There’s a good reason.

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Tel Dan—Worshipping at the Altar of Convenience

In the end, we'll find God far more satisfying.

Shady walkways. Cool breezes. Abundant streams. Luxuriant foliage. The Tel Dan Nature Preserve draws the locals as well as the travelers. It always has.

Headwaters of Jordan River at Tel Dan

(Photo: Headwaters of Jordan River at Tel Dan. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

In natural beauty, Tel Dan has few rivals in Israel. For the ancients, it had everything necessary for abundant living.

While the Hebrews in the south worshipped in Jerusalem, the natural beauty of Tel Dan in northern Israel offered an irresistible alternative. It was picturesque. It was convenient. It was invigorating.

And it was a complete compromise of God’s will.

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Why You Should Avoid the Path Of Least Resistance

The life we seek isn't found by avoiding pain. It comes another way.

The path of least resistance is a fact of nature. Rivers always flow around a mountain rather than through it. Electricity always moves through a circuit’s “easiest” route. Human nature is no different. Unfortunately.

Why You Should Avoid the Path Of Least Resistance

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We tend to do that which is easiest, often to the neglect of that which is best.

  • It’s easier to read a magazine than to read your Bible.
  • It’s easier to sit in front of the TV than to spend time with your kids.
  • It’s easier to lose your temper with your spouse than to control it.

Following the path of least resistance can become a habit that guides our lives. We make choices based on what is easiest, most pleasant, or least painful.

But God has a better plan for you.

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How Jesus Took Life in the Fast Lane in Stride

The One Thing Jesus Did to Change Activity to Efficiency

Is this true of you? Whenever I find myself with a free moment, I feel compelled to fill it with something productive. Because I hate to waste time, I fill it with activity and justify it as productivity.

How Jesus Took Life in the Fast Lane in Stride

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But I’m learning that constant movement doesn’t always represent efficiency. It could, moreover, represent just the opposite.

As with every other part of the human experience, Jesus remains our model of efficiency. But His life—even before the cross—was no easy walk:

  • The demands on Him were constant.
  • The needs He faced were overwhelming.
  • The expectations He encountered were unrealistic.

No person was ever more qualified to do it all, and yet Jesus took life in the fast lane in stride.

What was His secret?

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Walking with God Requires One Thing Most of All

How the basics keep us from growing cold.

We start strong. Determination and strength come easily. Faithfulness flows from our hearts. Then life happens. We didn’t plan to grow cold spiritually. But we did.

Walking with God Requires One Thing Most of All

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Somehow, we can wake up after a number of years and discover that our lack of passion for God has gradually shifted Him away from our hearts. We then find ourselves living in the ruins of once-vibrant spiritual lives.

How does this happen? By forgetting this one thing.

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15 Habits That Can Totally Transform Your Spiritual Life

Habits work off God's hardwiring for success.

You make decisions each day. Make the same decisions often enough and they becomes habits—powerful, God-given gifts to help you walk with God and stay healthy.

15 Habits That Will Totally Transform Your Spiritual Life

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Imagine if you had to relearn to tie your shoes, drive a car, or find your way to work each day. God designed our brains to search for and create patterns of efficiency—to move into “autopilot” so that our conscious brain can focus on other choices.

In Charles Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit, he notes a researcher from Duke University discovered that more than 40 percent of the actions we do each day aren’t decisions—but habits.

All our life, so far as it has definite form, is but a mass of habits. —William James

I have discovered 15 habits that have transformed my spiritual life. They can do the same for you.

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Why the Best Days Start in the Evening

3 Tips for beginning tomorrow morning tonight.

For most of us, our day begins when we wake up. According to our clocks and calendars, however, a new day begins at midnight. But when God created the world, He had something else in mind.

Why the Best Days Start in the Evening

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God actually created the new day to begin at evening—not at morning. Remember?

And there was evening and there was morning, one day. —Genesis 1:5

Odd, isn’t it, to begin the “day” with evening activities like family time, dinner, and—of all things—sleep? This mindset feels totally foreign to westerners, but many Jews still abide by it today.

Honestly, I have no idea why God did this. But I have discovered beginning the day in the evening has its productivity benefits.

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How I Cracked a Rib Washing My Hair

And 2 Reality Checks that Can Pull Our Heads Out of the Sand

Panicked, I woke up late for my men’s Bible study. Rather than show up with bedhead, I opted for a quick head rinse in the tub. I had done it a thousand times before. But this time would be the last.

How I Cracked a Rib Washing My Hair

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I planked on the edge of the tub to wash and rinse. As I leaned to the side, all of my weight rested on my ribs. I felt a give—and then a sharp pain. In that moment, one of two things happened:

  1. I received the gift of speaking in tongues . . .
  2. Or something was very, very wrong.

“You cracked a rib,” the doctor told me a few painful days later. Several of my close friends had another prognosis:

You’re getting old, Wayne.

Really? I have lived all my life like I was still 25. And frankly, that was my problem.

How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?

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What if Your Busy Life Isn’t Productive?

How to bear fruit for God in a world of distraction.

My old car had a funny way of handling the cold. I would turn on the headlights, heat, rear defrost, and the radio. All was fine until I turned on my blinker. When I did, the radio blinked off and on.

What if Your Busy Life is not Productive

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The small drain from the blinker was more than the power source could handle. Many mornings I feel like my old car. Every ounce of energy is already being used, and if even one small additional drain is required from me, the overload starts shutting down my system.

We’ve all been there. A busy life means little margin—and often, little productivity. No fruit for God.

Jesus told a story once about our busy lives—and the way to bear fruit to God.

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