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What Kind of Relationship? PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chris Tiegreen   
Monday, 08 March 2010 19:08

It seems sometimes that God is pulling all the strings in our lives without really letting us know what's going on. And the question I've asked Him is, "Is this really what You mean by a relationship?" In my sense of being "in the dark" about what's happening in life, I've charged Him with being impersonal — with only saying He wants a relationship with His people but not really meaning it.

What I'm coming to realize is that God does want a relationship with us, but it first needs to be a relationship of trust before it's a relationship of understanding — that He shares specific information with us and unveils His heart more readily with those who have already learned to trust Him. So the desire I have to understand what He's doing is, in fact, a valid part of the relationship; but it's secondary to the need to trust what He's doing. Trust and understanding are both vital aspects of a real relationship. But in our relationship with God, trust has to take precedence.

Now That's an Answer PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chris Tiegreen   
Wednesday, 10 February 2010 14:18

It's the kind of answer everyone wants when they pray—a God stirred to action on their behalf. Psalm 18 describes a God of action. It's a record of David's song when God delivered him from the hands of Saul:

In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. The earth trembled and quaked, and the foundations of the mountains shook; they trembled because he was angry. Smoke rose from his nostrils; consuming fire came from his mouth, burning coals blazed out of it. He parted the heavens and came down; dark clouds were under his feet. He mounted the cherubim and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind. . . . The Lord thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded. He shot his arrows and scattered [the enemies], great bolts of lightning and routed them. . . . He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. . . . He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me. (Psalm 18:6-17)

Isn't that the kind of response you want when you cry out to God? We want a God who rises up decisively and passionately to come to our aid—who will even shake the earth and part the heavens if He needs to. And I think that's often what we get without even realizing it. What we need to remember is that David's flight and eventual rescue from Saul took many long years. From a heavenly point of view, God rose up decisively and defended David. From an earthly point of view . . . well, many times it seemed that David had been left high and dry. The verdict on his prayer wasn't visible for a very long time.

Take heart from that and trust that your prayers are being answered. God rises up on your behalf. You may not see that yet, but that doesn't make it any less true. David prayed, and years later he was delivered. And in his song, he testified of the God who shook the earth and flew from the heavens in order to answer.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 February 2010 14:37
The Biggest Battle PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chris Tiegreen   
Tuesday, 02 February 2010 16:28

A lot of Christians think their biggest battle is against sin. It isn't. The biggest struggle we face is over the issue of trust. Do we trust God? If we do—if we really know deep down in our hearts that His will for us is good—then a lot of our other issues become less intense. We can follow Him more quickly and enthusiastically if we really trust Him. We can endure difficult trials if we know His love is with us in the midst of them. We can hold on to hope if we trust in His faithfulness and His sovereignty over every circumstance of our lives. If trust is in place, our other "biggest" battles become much smaller.

I believe that's what Satan went after in Eden—humanity's trust in God's character, His love, and His word. And I believe that's still what he goes after in your life and mine. Don't get caught up focusing on sin or anything else in your life. Focus on God—His goodness, His faithfulness, His love. When He is our greatest preoccupation, other concerns preoccupy us a lot less.

Promotions in Disguise PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chris Tiegreen   
Wednesday, 13 January 2010 00:00

I know a lot of people right now who are going through what Joseph experienced — a promotion that looks an awful lot like a devastating setback. Remember Joseph? He had God-given dreams, and as soon as he shared them, he was betrayed by his brothers, thrown into a dry well, then sold as a slave. He ended up in Egypt first as a slave and then as a prisoner. When it looked like he was finally about to be given an opportunity to get out of prison, he was forgotten and remained captive two more years.

That's a lot of time to think about how you've been betrayed — by others or even by God. When God has given you dreams and then everything in life goes in the opposite direction, it looks like you completely misunderstood God, that somehow blew the opportunities He gave you, or that He somehow abandoned you. But every step of the way, Joseph was being promoted. Sure, it looked like slavery and imprisonment were steps down the ladder, not up. But in God's kingdom, each test of character and faith is a stepping stone toward the destiny He has designed us for. Joseph's last two years in prison were the ultimate test of his faith. And though he didn't realize it, he was closer to his dreams than ever. What looks like a setback is often the last stage in our preparation for a fulfilled calling.


Remember that if you're going through a hard trial right now. Be encouraged. Pass the tests of character and faith, and see what God does. You could not bear the weight of what God is going to do in your life if He did not refine you in the fires of time and trials. Those who inherit God's promises inherit them by faith and patience (Hebrews 6:12, a verse I mentioned in my last post that seems to keep coming up in my life). Even if you feel like you're confined in your circumstances, hold on. The next step may be the fulfillment of what God has placed in your heart.


The Promiser PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chris Tiegreen   
Wednesday, 16 December 2009 00:00

On a recent episode of The Office, the lead character Michael Scott had promised a class of third-graders that if they finished high school and got accepted to college, he would pay their tuition. That was 10 years ago, and now the promise was due. The students invited him to the school for a celebration of "Michael Scott Day," and they honored the man who would make their dreams come true. But Michael didn't have the resources to fulfill his promise—never did, even when he first made it—and he had to retract the promise in humiliating fashion. Afterward, a student approached him and asked a pointed question: "Who does that? Who promises that to a bunch of kids and then doesn't come through like that?"

Indeed, who does that? When an extravagant promiser doesn't come through, the result is tragic (or, in a sitcom, the butt of jokes). But do you realize how often we see God like that—as a promiser who doesn't come through for us? He has given us "very great and precious promises," according to 2 Peter 1:4, but we hardly know what to do with them. We assume they are accompanied by theological fine print and call them mysteries. That's simply a way of reassuring ourselves when God seemingly hasn't delivered on His word, a means to hold on to the truth that He doesn't lie in spite of the appearance that He might have.


But real faith is stubborn. It keeps pressing into what God has promised. No fine print, no theological caveats, no divine games of bait-and-switch. We have to remember that the Promised Land was inherited by those who endured through "faith and patience" (Hebrews 6:12). If God has made a concrete promise, expect a concrete fulfillment. No matter how long it takes, no matter how many obstacles you face, believe what He has said. Endure. Hold on. Why? Because God is not like Michael Scott. He means what He says, and He has the resources to follow through on it.


Giving Thanks PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chris Tiegreen   
Tuesday, 24 November 2009 00:00

As you give thanks this week, consider the following benefits of gratitude:

• It cultivates a positive perspective.

• It starves a negative perspective and eliminates cynicism and pessimism.

• It acknowledges truth — that we have been blessed.

• It takes your eyes off of yourself and puts them on God.

• It brings us in line with God's will (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

• It transforms your attitude and puts you in a position to receive more from God with a right heart.

• It increases awareness of God's presence.

When life is hard, it's easy to get cynical — to focus on what God hasn't done rather than what He has done. The result is a glass-half-empty perspective that keeps getting worse; the more we look at the empty half of the glass, the emptier the whole thing looks. Gratitude may be the only way to get out of that downward spiral. The act of giving thanks has a transforming effect. It's an intentional focus on what God has already done. When we choose to give thanks, we are aligning ourselves with truth and fulfilling God's will. Gratitude reverses the negative snowball effect and spins it in the opposite direction. The result is a growing awareness of God's gifts and an increasing sense of His presence.


Remember that on Thursday — and every day, for that matter. God gives good gifts for our enjoyment. One of the best ways to honor Him is to actually enjoy them.


A New Resource PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chris Tiegreen   
Monday, 16 November 2009 00:00
The new book is here! For the fourth time, past readings from indeed have been compiled into a devotional book: The One Year Wonder of the Cross: 365 daily readings to renew your faith. All four of the books coming from the magazine have been published by Tyndale. Check out the details at http://estore.rrd.com/WalkThruTheBible/product.aspx?guid=18c317cd-ca2d-4b97-9cad-b63ce836eca9& .
Wilderness and Destiny PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chris Tiegreen   
Thursday, 05 November 2009 00:00

I've been studying the life of David and am reminded that after he had received the promise of becoming king, he spent quite a bit of time in the wilderness -- protected and preserved, but also prevented from stepping into his destiny. Seems like a common biblical theme: Joseph's years in prison, Israel's years of wandering, etc. It appears that every Promised Land, even every promise itself, is preceded by a wilderness of some kind; and the greater the promise, the longer and more painful the wilderness. If you're in one of those wilderness times, let that be an encouragement. This is normal for someone who is called to a great destiny.

Last Updated on Friday, 29 January 2010 20:20
Prequel to Victory PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chris Tiegreen   
Monday, 26 October 2009 00:00
God has been teaching me an extremely hard lesson—not a complicated lesson, but very unnatural one: Learn to see every negative thing that happens as a prequel to victory rather than as a sign of defeat. That's what faith does—it looks at adversity through those lenses. That's easy to understand and very difficult to do. But because faith is so vital to the kingdom of God, it's absolutely essential.

Surviving Our Victories PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chris Tiegreen   
Monday, 12 October 2009 00:00

I've heard two sermons from different preachers in the last couple of weeks that emphasized the same theme: "don't become a head case when God gives you a victory." The point is a good one -- we often cry out in desperation for breakthrough in some area of life, and then when God gives it, we take His response as an endorsement of everything we do and everything we say, as though the answer to prayer validated everything about us. The result is a lot of pride, which causes us to lose the very thing that God responded to in the first place: our desperation and dependence. It's no wonder God waits so long to give us what we ask for sometimes. We have a hard time handling victory.

Desperation and dependence are good attitudes to have. They qualify us to receive things from God that we wouldn't otherwise receive. The trick is to keep those attitudes when everything is going great -- when God is answering prayer and blessing us with our heart's desires. We need to remember our desperation after God comes through for us, not just before He does. It keeps us in position to continue to hear and receive from Him.


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