4 Apps To Fuel Your Spiritual Life

For those of us who have accepted Christ as our savior, we each have to figure out what to do next. When you’ve experienced the transformational love of Christ the next question is usually: now what? Do we sit on our hands and enjoy God till we die or He comes back? Or are there ways we allow Him to work in us daily to further His Kingdom?

This is why Christian character matters. And Christian character comes from the influence of God’s Spirit shaping us into who He designed us to be more and more each day. As the apostle Peter said,

“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” 2 Peter 1:3-4

But what does it mean to participate in the divine nature? One of the traditional tools for the spiritual life is journaling. I’ve never been much for that as it isn’t something I can keep up with and it ends up discouraging me more than anything else. If you are like me and are interested in a different way of experiencing God, here are four iPhone apps that I’ve found to be very helpful in no particular order.

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Top 15 Quotes from Mark Batterson

Top 15 Quotes from Mark Batterson

Last night we had an incredible prayer conference at Central with Mark Batterson. Not only can the dude preach but he brings incredible insight into the spiritual life with prayer as a focus. Here are my favorite fifteen quotes.

  1. I believe in short prayers before meals because I believe in eating food while it’s still hot. I think it’s good stewardship.
  2. If you’re not fasting, you’re full of yourself.
  3. The Bible was not meant to be read. The Bible was meant to be prayed. Reading the Bible without praying is like eating without digesting.
  4. When you open your Bible God opens his mouth. If all we ever do is read it then it becomes a monologue.
  5. Success is when those who know you best respect you the most.
  6. The Holy Spirit plus caffeine equals awesome.
  7. Bold prayers honor God and God honors bold prayers.
  8. At some point in life the best you can do isn’t good enough.
  9. Prayer is the difference between letting things happen and making things happen.
  10. Singing is something we do with our voices, worship is something we do with our hearts.
  11. God sometimes uses past tense language for things that have not yet happened.
  12. Not getting an answer you prayed for is not a failure in prayer. It’s a reminder that you are not omniscient.
  13. Instead of ASAP, it’s ALAT. As long as it takes.
  14. Fasting is how you exercise your “No” muscle.
  15. Anything we don’t turn into praise turns into pride.
There Are No Good Guys or Bad Guys

There Are No Good Guys or Bad Guys

Almost every major story or movie involves the good guys versus the bad guys. In most of them, the bad guys lose. I recently watched the movie Lone Survivor and was reminded how often we frame stories like this. In the movie (and even the trailers), there are clear references to the enemy as the bad guy and the fact that the Navy Seals are the good guys.

But the problem is that this is a false dichotomy. There are no good guys or bad guys. There are just people. People who make choices both good and bad. Certainly, some people’s lives are characterized by a dominance of loving choices or a dominance of selfish choices. But we are all capable of both and indeed we all experience both in our own lives. Some of the best stories include characters who you disliked at one point and then loved at another point in the story. We refer to them as a dynamic characters and they make for a much stronger story than a cartoonish depiction of a good or bad guy.

I had a conversation with my son Gavin this week. As I was laying him to bed for the night he asked me, “Dad, will Jesus protect me from bad guys?” I struggled with providing him with a theologically sound answer that makes sense to a five year old. It’s tempting to simply tell him “yes” and allow him to go to sleep feeling better. But even at his age, I want my son to learn that life is deeper than that. I told him that Jesus will always be with him, but that Jesus also loves the bad guys. He looked confused by this.

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Doing Nothing

Let’s do a little exercise with logic. One of my favorite passages in the Bible is what Jesus teaches in John chapter fifteen. It goes like this:

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” 15:5

Without Jesus you can do nothing. That’s pretty clear.

But this also means the reverse: if you end up doing nothing, you are doing it without Him.

If your theology can handle it, it seems to me you can boil the transformational process in Jesus down to two steps. Step one is what Jesus does in saving us. We cannot earn this or merit this by any stretch of the imagination. We simply accept it. Step two is our response to this unbelievable deal and how it changes us for the rest of our life. To have the second without the first is works-based religion and will never work. But to have the first without the second is to miss the point of what happens when we remain in Christ. Christians are often susceptible to either of these mistakes.

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Initial Thoughts with a Foster Child

Here's little Adelyn meeting the new baby for the first time.

Here’s little Adelyn meeting the new baby for the first time.

Last Tuesday Michelle and I received our first foster placement. We have been unbelievably blessed to invest ourselves in the life of a beautiful baby boy. Here are a few of the highlights of our experience so far, both the good and the bad.

Secrecy is bizarre, and even feels a bit cruel.

With foster kids you also adopt an interesting set of rules. We can’t show his face publicly (which is why you see the very selective camera angles in our pics). We can’t share his name publicly. And we can’t tell anyone (even our other family members) his story before ending up in our home. It is very odd to have such a major part of your life with the coupling of strict secrecy to go with it.

People often struggle with the concept of fostering but not with the actual children.

Before we got our little guy it often felt like people wanted to talk us out of doing this. We’d get comments like:

  • “Are you sure you are ready for this?”
  • “Your kids are so young already.”
  • “We could never do something like that.”

You walk away from these conversations second guessing yourself and feeling a little bit crazy. Clearly we aren’t thinking through this the way everyone else is. The result was that we were slightly nervous to see how people would react once we brought a child into our home. We couldn’t have been more pleasantly surprised. My Facebook post announcing the new arrival garnered nearly 500 “likes” and almost 100 comments. While you might argue that those types of metrics on social media are superficial, I can honestly say that it felt like a tremendous vote of support from a lot of people.

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The Tipping Point of Loyalty

burger kingAs I’ve written about before, I’m not a big fan of McDonalds. That meant that Burger King was my fast food common choice of preference. I say common choice because there seems to be more Burger Kings and McDonald’s than other fast food chains (and we all would choose In-N-Out if we had the choice).

But I’ve officially broken my loyalty to Burger King after my experience this weekend. I can boil this decision down to three things:

  • they’ve changed their fries from what I used to love to something I think is very subpar
  • they’ve stopped making my favorite sandwich, the BK Double Stacker
  • I waited twenty five minutes in the drive through line. I timed it. And I’ve never before been so close to driving over the landscaping to get out of the drive through line.

I will do my best to avoid Burger King from this point on. This is a little shocking since this was a place I used to enjoy. As I’ve thought about my change of heart I wondered how much it takes to break loyalty to something? Loyalty might be a strong word to describe my previous view of Burger King, but at least I had some type of relationship. I can clearly articulate three things that caused this change. But I wonder, would two of them have been enough? Would just one?

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