In today’s world, it is no surprise that many people doubt that the Bible is the inspired and authoritative word of God. But if it is anything less than this, could there be any accuracy in its details or power in its content? You may have other questions or perhaps you’ve heard doubts expressed by those around you. Does God really exist? Is there any way to know if Jesus really died on a cross at Calvary and rose from the dead? We wake each morning to a world that is increasingly hostile to God and the Christian worldview. Unanswered questions lead to doubts; doubts, if unchecked, can mature into total disbelief.
Today, seekers and believers as well, hunger for evidence that makes it easier to hold fast to the truth about Christ as revealed in the natural world and in the Holy Bible. The world may mock those who are caught up in Christ. Yet, evidence answers questions, dissolves doubt, and empowers faith.
But let’s get real. Even when convinced of biblical authority, why bother with it? What practical value could it serve? Caught Up in Christ illuminates five outcomes you can expect from getting caught up in Christ and the Holy Word of God. We’re not talking about superficial tips and tricks but measurable results that you can see and touch, quantifiable outcomes that will change the way you experience the world and how the world experiences you.
The five outcomes are an enhanced sense of peace, a powerful partnership, a godly perspective, pure thoughts, and lastly, the life-changing impact of being persuaded by the truth about God and becoming persuasive for His kingdom.
Do you long for peace of mind? Are there fears that you want to overcome and problems that you would like to solve? Are you searching for a way to make sense of the world and to find your place in it? Can you imagine how your life might be better if you could change the way you impact those around you? Do you long for a way to help those around you to achieve peace and the changes they desire? Can you imagine a deeper, more meaningful worship experience?
If you are like me, you answered yes to one or more of these questions. Look around. People everywhere are searching for answers, and many are finding out the world has overpromised and under-delivered. It’s important to start our search by imagining the difference Christ would make in our life and in the lives of our family and friends.
I invite you to read the book and join in our conversation about the Bible as we get caught up in Christ.
Seekers and believers answer this question differently. There is great power in prayer and God’s power to answer prayers is unmatched and unchanging. A key difference between seekers and believers is the level of confidence that we bring forward with our prayer. We confidently ask for help when we believe help is available. There are times of desperation when we cry out for help whether we believe it’s available or not. There are also moments when we step out of our hiding place and expose ourselves to the Almighty moved by a glimmer of hope that perhaps, somehow, someway, it might be true. Can you remember a time when you wondered if there really was a great, awesome, and loving God who exists and answers prayer?
Even if our doubt about the existence of God is satisfied, our self-image and shame may stand in the way and demand we answer a second question: Could this all-knowing and all-powerful God love me? Put another way, what are the chances that God would even notice me and find me the least bit worthy of care?
Getting caught up in Christ impacts how we experience the world and how the world experiences us. It changes our relationship with people, ideas, God, and Jesus Christ, Himself. It also impacts the level of confidence with which we approach the throne of God in prayer. Getting caught up in Christ not only increases our confidence but also clarifies our understanding about how God answers prayer. When we pray, God gives us one of three answers: yes, no, or hold on for something better.
It’s important to understand these different outcomes. Without this understanding, we’re at risk of bad thinking. “If God really loved me, He would give me everything I ask for.” “God could never love me after everything I’ve done.” Without a truth-grounded understanding of how God answers prayer, we are likely to get frustrated, discouraged, angry, resentful, full of doubts, and maybe even give up to total disbelief. If this happens, we will most likely drift away from God and prayer will be uttered no more.
Getting caught up in Christ helps us develop a more accurate understanding of who we are and who God is, who Jesus is, why He came, and how He continues His ministry through the power of the Holy Spirit. Here is a metaphor I hope will help us capture a fuller understanding of prayer as part of a personal relationship with Christ.
In the skies over head, airline pilots are in communication with air-traffic controllers. Pilots count on them to know the final destination of the aircraft but also to know about any obstacles that lie in its path. There are times when dangers are such that pilots are directed to change flight paths. How much sense would it make for pilots to second-guess these directions or even turn off the radio all together? The input controllers provide to pilots is not criticism but points of correction. They have a perspective the pilots do not have access to. God loves us and has a perspective that we do not have access to. Reading Holy Scripture, studying God’s word, and listening for inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit provides us God’s perspective by which we can adjust our flight plan and make in-flight corrections, when needed.
My book, Caught Up in Christ, provides spiritual first aid and helps you think critically about what lies at the heart of your spirituality, your current relationship with Christ and the role that active prayer plays in the life of a believer. I invite you to join us as we get caught up in Christ!
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I know you can feel it—the heartbeat of a country out of rhythm…your own heart aching with unceasing pain… the heart of churches throbbing in crisis…a friend or family member who can feel their heart pounding at the sight of a spiritual wound. Perhaps you have been searching your heart for any feeling at all and are ready to give up and surrender to the numbness of a flat-lined faith life.
Confusion and fear run rampant in our emotionally charged, hyper sexualized, me-driven society. Unanswered questions lead to doubt and, if left unchecked, mature into total disbelief. People hear about the latest mass shooting and stand by utterly dismayed and perplexed by the increasing presence of evil in our world. We fight to stand strong in the wake of pandemic viruses and wonder if the world is falling apart. We wake each morning to a world that is more and more anti-God and anti-Christian. With everything going on in our world, country, in our homes, and in our hearts, should we be surprised that many of us are in need of spiritual first aid?
Each of us can identify ourselves somewhere on the following continuum.
Where are you? Perhaps your concern is for someone in your circle of friends or your family who “is done.” Waiting to hear if a loved one made it through the night is a heart-wrenching experience. It gets worse when you are the one people are waiting to hear about. I could give you testimonies of my own experiences at each stage.
Your story is important because you matter. Getting caught up in Christ moves us closer to a fuller understanding of our situation. Most importantly, getting caught up in Christ moves us closer to the source of hope, healing, forgiveness, grace, and mercy. Only in Christ do we find a coherent understanding of what’s going on that corresponds to the specific details of our story and the way out of our desperation.
This spiritual first-aid also provides us a critical awareness of how things will get better. I wish I could promise you a fast and complete recovery. I’ll never sugar-coat the work that lies ahead. I’ll help you lay out a path forward based on my own experiences and those whom I’ve had the honor of walking with through their struggles.
We can’t jump from desperation and parachute into peace. It’s a process that starts by carefully backing away from the edge of “I’m done” and working our way through the continuum to “peace.” As we get caught up in Christ, we learn that this process also comes with a promise. Christ will never leave us nor abandon us. He loves you. He loves me. Praise God!
My book, Caught Up in Christ, invites you into a conversation that will impart spiritual first aid, uncover evidence, answer questions, and help you set or reset your faith firmly on the foundation of Christ. Don’t settle for the world’s version of peace or even what you think you can achieve on your own. Get caught up in Christ. Don’t count on your own abilities or power to achieve goals or make changes in your life. Get caught up in Christ.
Don’t buy into the world’s perspective on who you are, what your purpose is, or who your enemy is. Get caught up in Christ. Don’t subscribe to your own way of thinking or the contaminated thinking of the world. Get caught up in Christ. Don’t put limits on what God can do in you, for you, and through you. Get caught up in Christ!
I invite you to read the book and join in our conversation as we get caught up in Christ.
It was one of those moments. I had seen others living out such moments on TV and read about them in magazines. Yet, I was unprepared. We glided across the clear, calm water, on a cool morning, Cedar Lake, Ontario, Canada. The north wood pines stood at attention. Their ranks dotted only with the early spring green-yellow leaves of the birch trees. The clay-red and multi-shaded brown boulders framed the lake. We motored into the narrows and were greeted by tall rock formations standing like granite guardians both to the port and starboard sides. I could see the final set of guardians in the distance. The final sets were shorter and seemingly bent over, kneeling in reverence to what lay ahead.
The river banked left and ushered us into the sanctuary. The bay to the east was bordered by tall grass, glistening in the first rays of the morning sun. Beyond the bay, the lake widened out in a full circle that filled my field of view. Three small islands sat on the water, cedars raising their boughs in praise. Paradise.
I felt welcomed but unnoticed. The worship service had already begun! I had been praying as we made our run to paradise but now, inside the sanctuary, all I could do was join the choir of nature in praise of our Master Creator. I was caught up in praise of the one, true, living God, bathing in His radiant glory. Any doubts about where this natural beauty came from disappeared and I was full of wonder, joy, and a deep sense of peace.
Have you had such a moment?
There is a story in the Gospel of Luke about stones (Luke 19:37-40). As Jesus entered Jerusalem, the crowds and His disciples praised Jesus, shouting, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd asked Jesus to rebuke his disciples. “I tell you,” Jesus responded, “if they keep quiet, even the stones will cry out.” I believe this. I’ve heard stones cry out in praise of the Lord!
I’ve been blessed by other moments when I was caught up in praise: holding my newborn grandson, surrounded by brothers at Christian retreats, at one particular concert listening to voices raised to God in four-part harmony.
But there are other times when praise does not come so easily nor so positively uplifting. Praising God after losing a job is tough. Lifting our eyes to the Lord with praise can be the last thing on our mind after an argument with our partner or the loss of a loved one.
As we get caught up in Christ, we learn praise is both intellectual and emotional. By the grace of God, believers, at some point, are moved by the reality of God and persuaded by the truth of who Jesus Christ was, is and always will be. From this mindset it is possible to praise God in all situations. Even during desperate times, fearful times, and painful times, we can lift up our eyes to the Lord and praise God. Granted, this intellectual praise might be shared well after we’ve raised our voice to God pouring out our anger, resentment, confusion and pain, but, praise prevails. Our questions, doubts, and heavy emotions do not change the nature of God, how much He cares for his creation and how much Christ longs to help us.
Psalm 46:10 calls us to “Be still and know that I am God.” Notice that the psalmist encourages us to be still and “know” that I am God, not “feel” that I am God. Why focus on the mind, rather than emotions? Would you agree with me that emotions can be fickle, ever-changing, untrustworthy, and even disloyal? Pick a day this next week and track your emotions. Watch how they come and go. Assess the situations and how emotions drive you to make one decision while your mind pulls you in a different direction. Our emotions are real and valid and have great purpose. However, they can also lead us astray if we are not careful. Greg Koukl says it well, “Emotions make life delicious, but reason makes life safe.”
Situations where we are moved to offer intellectual and uplifting emotional praise are unforgettable! But, over the course of our life, we are likely to experience more situations when we know that God remains present and worthy of praise, but we may not feel like praising God. I’ve noticed that in good times, I generally address my praise to Christ Jesus. I feel a certain closeness, fondness, child-like trust, and peace. In challenging times, however, I find it hard to call out the name of Jesus. Instead, I address the Almighty, simply, as God. In these times, the intimacy is replaced by a feeling of distance and unworthiness, and perhaps even anger at an oppressive authority. I think it’s much like how I addressed my parents in different situations: Daddy, Pop, or Dad; Mommy, Mom, or Mother. My emotional reaction to situations did not change who my Mom and Dad were, nor diminish how much they loved me and wanted the best for me.
The psalms showcase moments when King David praised God both intellectually and full of joyful and peaceful emotion. There are also examples when he was stuck in challenging times. In these circumstances, David, like us, struggled with his emotions toward God but he offered intellectual praise to the Lord.
In his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul encourages us, “In everything give thanks” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Please notice, Paul says “In everything, give thanks,” not “For everything, give thanks.” As we grow in faith, we learn the power and priority of praising God.
In my book, we uncover the awe and intimacy of a personal relationship with Jesus. I invite you to read the book and join me as we get caught up in Christ.