Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Receive Love

Ive heard there was a secret chord
That David played and it pleased the lord
But you dont really care for music, do you?
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing hallelujah

Your faith was strong, but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you
To a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the hallelujah

Baby Ive been here before, I know this room
Ive walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you
Ive seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march
Its a cold and its a broken hallelujah

There was a time you let me know
Whats really going on below
But now you never show it to me, do you?
I remember when I moved in you
And the holy dove was moving too
And every breath we drew was hallelujah

Maybe theres a God above, all I ever learned from love
Was how to shoot at someone who out drew you
And its not a cry you can hear at night
Its not somebody whos seen the light
Its a cold and its a broken hallelujah

1 John 4:7-12
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

May all your expectations be frustrated.
May all your plans be thwarted.
May all your desires be withered into nothingness,
that you may experience the powerlessness and the poverty of a child
and sing and dance in the love of God
who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Amen. (prayed over Henri Nouwen by his mentor)

Monday, January 29, 2007

Is that really you God? Part III

I’m Home Papa
Last week we talked about the blocking paradigm of a ‘me-centered’ prayer life. We need to become aware of this idea and allow ourselves to see that the true center of prayer is relating to God. Most people I talk to easily fall back into default mode of just asking God for stuff. Eventually we find ourselves discouraged, thinking that prayer doesn’t ‘work’, feeling bored with God, and getting disconnected in our hearts.

If in relating to God, His desire is for us to receive His love as a son or daughter, and we can only intellectualize and give up on prayer, we lose our heart and identity in Christ.

When you’re a kid on a hot summer day & the Dickie Dee guy comes through your neighborhood, you might be nice but really counts is the ice cream. When you take your kids to Santa & they sit on his lap they don’t usually ask Santa how he’s doing. They ask for stuff, and then get off the lap and wait for the goodies to arrive. We usually call that prayer.

Paul Harvey story:
"Now you’re not going to get any chocolate chip cookies, so don’t even ask."
"Mom, can I have some chocolate chip cookies?"
"I told you not even to ask. You're not going to get any at all."
"Mom. Can I please have done chocolate chip cookies?"
"I told you that you can't have any. Now sit down and be quiet."
At the checkout line, "In the name of Jesus, may I have some chocolate chip cookies?"
Due to generosity of other shoppers, he left with 23 boxes of chocolate chip cookies!

Matthew 6:9-13
"This, then, is how you should pray: " 'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.'

Father, Papa, we’re coming to you. Now normally, if we were to come before the Holy God, it would be a tremendously scary proposition. Perhaps it would feel like a courtroom and we’re wondering what sentence we might ge: ‘Death’.

Jesus has changed all of that. We’re more like the Prime Minister’s kids who get access to sit in Papa’s lap while the affairs of the world are carried on.

From this vantage point, we get to see what the heavenly Father is up to, who He is really. He is bent on seeing His kingdom come to the earth, and we get excited about that happening through the power of love. Yes, Papa, may your kingdom fill the earth.

We cry out to Papa to receive our daily bread to help strengthen us for carrying out this mission from our Father. With His bread and His mission in our minds, we realize that we really don’t need our son to turn his life around or our spouse to love us well. We don’t need our feet to fully recover. We don’t even need a job in order to do our part in showing others the way God relates to people. All we really need is the bread from heaven, daily grace, the voice of the Father that brings life. We want those other blessings too, but they’re all second things. We don’t need them to satisfy the deepest desire of God’s heart and ours, or to achieve our mission.

We don’t always think this way, but when we do we see that second things have become our goal, our love, our idol. When we realize this fact it leads us to purge.

We say to God, “Papa, I’ve not valued You like I should. Like the prodigal son, I’ve wanted Your resources at my disposal as opposed than wanting You. I’m actually willing to not be with You if it means I could have everything else I want and just feel good. That’s awful! Forgive me. I’m not worthy to sit on Your lap."

I’ve also been so intent on filling up my emptiness through others that I’ve been holding grudges against people who haven’t come through for me. Forgive me as I forgive them now.’
We wake up fresh to the realization that there is something in us attracted to building our own kingdom, pursue our own dreams, of doing whatever we can to change our spouse to treat us as we want to be treated, and of protecting ourselves from looking bad in all of our relationships.

So we pray, ‘deliver us from evil’. And now we’re praying with the mind of Christ. That’s what Jesus had in mind when he said,

John 14:23
"If anyone loves me (relationship), he will obey my teaching (the fruit of relationship). My Father will love him (He already does but He’ll make His love felt), and we (both Papa and Jesus by their Spirit) will come to him and make our home with him.

At issue is whether we’ll become a child of God and live in that truth. We usually want more because of our deficits, we want something that works, gives results quickly, that puts us in control that gives us the power to make things happen. We get addicted to ‘fixing things’. Quickly. Or buying something to fix the problem.

If you want control, you’re the prodigal.

I can make my life better God, if you’ll just release your blessings to my charge. I’ll be on my way and then I’ll know the fullest life that you talk about in the Bible.

These second order blessings become so attractive we start thinking they’re really the first things in our life. Listen to what God says though, to Israel about entering the Promised Land:

Deuteronomy 8:10-14
“When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you.” In other words, celebrate your blessings. But “Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied (when life is going well), then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”

In our own lives, the feeling of satisfaction that comes when a marriage improves or a child turns back to God or a special gift solves our financial issue or a church really takes off often feels stronger and brings more pleasure than our experience of God. We shouldn’t deny the pleasure, because the blessings are from God, but we must realize that there is a danger in thinking that the blessings from God satisfy our souls more deeply than God Himself.

We don’t always feel God in our heart. We all need more than head knowledge to survive as a Christ follower. We need experiences, touches of our heart, those times where we know that in the deepest part of our core God loves us. God does let us experience seasons of emptiness and futility. If we are concerned with only being comfortable, we won’t be happy in those seasons.

Jesus faced great temptations when He was alone. In the wilderness with Satan. His surrender to God’s purposes blessed His earthly ministry. His surrender in the garden of Gethsemane enabled Him to go to the cross. He cried out to His Father to change it if possible.

Mark 14:35-36
"Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 'Abba, Father,' he said, 'everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.'"

But He was totally surrendered; totally surrendered to His Abba. Abba was an intimate name for father, like Papa.

John 15:7
If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.

"I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you're joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can't produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon.”

What does it mean to remain in God? To abide? To pray in the Spirit?

Jude 20-21
Pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God's love.

Is Jude saying that God could stop loving us if we don’t behave in certain ways? No. We are loved by God; we couldn’t be loved any more and we’ll never be loved any less.

We can choose to leave love’s party. We can move away from our identity as a son or daughter in Christ, to leave His love for us and the way he sees us, because we have a hard time being or feeling loved, and to get stuck in ourselves, self-obsessed and concerned with nothing more than our own experience of fullness and satisfaction.

We do that every time we choose to live for second things. We do it every time we pray harder for our marriage to feel better than we pray to more closely relate to God. We do it when we pray more for personal blessings to make our lives happier than to bear fruit for God’s kingdom.
“Put first things first and second things are thrown in. Put second things first and you lose both first and second things.” C.S. Lewis

To pray in the Spirit is to say, “God here I am. I know that You love me. I’ve been more concerned with feeling better about myself and wanting life to get better than being with You. I’m coming home. Will You have me?”

We utilize God for the sake of getting peace and joy, that is, we do not realize Jesus Christ, but only our enjoyment of Him; this is the first step in the wrong direction. Oswald Chambers

Sometimes we think we’re worshipping God and praying in the Spirit when all we’re doing is using Him, as a woman who wants a bay might use a man to gain what she believes is her greatest good. The same way a man might marry a beautiful woman but neglect her because she’s more of a trophy for social standing. The fruit of the relationship is more treasured than the relationship itself. That’s definitely not relationship building or relational prayer.

A real test of whether God’s life is getting inside of us is what trickles out to others, especially those closest to us and those difficult to love.

Are you getting more judgmental, or are you feeling more compassion for the lost, hurting and the ones who’ve hurt us?

"Love is the function of faith horizontally just as prayer is the function of faith vertically." Joseph Sittler

If we are in Christ, in Him, (those references are used many times in the Bible), nothing can get at us. Hurts, our past, deficit relationships or lack of things, they no longer have the power to hurt us like they once did. Our identity is with Jesus and the Father through the Holy Spirit. To pray is to grow into that knowledge and experience.

The essence of prayer is love. The biblical heroes of the faith realized that. They all begin their prayers with worship. Unfortunately, we have lost the priority of love in our prayers.

Just what does God expect of me in my prayer life?

He wants a love relationship. He doesn't want a hired servant; he wants a bride. A true love will always find a way. It may not always be the same way, or the prescribed way, but it will be a way that reflects love. That's what God wants from me. And you

Zephaniah 3:17
The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.

The most important thing that ever happens in prayer is letting ourselves be loved by God. Brennan Manning

If our image of God becomes healed, the image we hold of ourselves will likely also be healed. Brennan Manning

“God, I hated you after the rape! How could you let this happen to me? And I hated the people in this church who tried to comfort me. I didn’t want comfort. I wanted revenge. I wanted to hurt back. I thank you, God, that you didn’t give up on me, and neither did some of these people. You kept after me, and I come back to you now and ask that you heal the scars in my soul.” a young woman during open prayer time, Phil Yancey, Prayer

"We must lay before Him what is in us, not what ought to be in us." C.S. Lewis

Revealing Feeling is Healing

Romans 8:15
"For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, 'Abba, Father.'"

Papa You have my heart. I'm home now.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Psalm 46:10
Be still, and know that I am God
Psalm 16:8
I will set the Lord always before me
Ecclesiastes 5:1-2
As you enter the house of God, keep your ears open and your mouth shut.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

True Prayer: A Relationally-Centered Prayer Life

Draw Near and Listen
Remain in Christ and let God's word remain in you. Receive His love.

Bend Low As a Living Sacrifice
Surrender every 'second thing' to gain union with God.

In Every Circumstance Give Thanks
Thank God for the unique opportunity every blessing or trial presents to delight God's heart and reveal Him to others.

May Your Kingdom Come Through Others
Change people's hearts so that they will long to advance Your will.

With the Mind of Christ, Ask and Receive
Petitions grow out of a desire for God...expressed by the Spirit's groaning; discerned by the Father's searching; furthering the Son's joy. (from Larry Crabb, The Papa Prayer)

Friday, January 26, 2007

False Prayer: A Me-Centered Prayer Life

Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!
'Bless me, dear God, and give me the good life of fulfillment and joy.
Change Things for My Sake
Work in others and in my circumstances with my well-being in view.
Thank You for My Blessings
You're useful and I like it, so keep it up God!
Here's My Tip for Good Service
I'll sing and praise You for what You've given me. Hey, worship is easy- I don't have to sacrifice!
Tell Me What to Do to Keep the Good Times Rolling
I'll do my part for as long as You do Yours. (from Larry Crabb, The Papa Prayer)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Jesus has left the building...

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


In a chapter on 'Conversion' from his book Humble Apologetics, John Stachhouse writes,

We can conclude, then, with some questions that Christians shouldn’t ask, and a question we should always ask instead.

“Is he saved?” I don’t know, and I cannot know until “the roll is called up yonder.” The actual condition of another person’s heart is mysterious, even to the individual. So from the outside I certainly cannot presume to know, and therefore I do not need to try to know. The whole agenda of some Christians to figure out “who is in and who is out” is therefore mistaken.

“What can I do to convert him?” Nothing. God’s Spirit alone can truly convert. Again, God does not call us to do what we cannot do. So we need not, and must not, try to convert anyone, including through what we might pride ourselves on as being impressive apologetics.

“Does he need to hear the gospel?” Of course he does. We all do, again and again, until we see Christ face to face. That’s one of the reasons Christians take the Lord’s Supper regularly: to hear in it the gospel once again, the gospel of everlasting forgiveness and empowerment to overcome evil and enjoy the good. If we therefore have any opportunity to tell the gospel to another, we should tell it. No one outgrows it.

The good question to ask instead is simply this: “How shall I treat him? How shall I treat her?" And the answer is just as simple: with love. Until all of our neighbors are fully mature in Christ, there is something left for serious Christians to do, and when we have the opportunity to assist the neighbor somehow, then we should take it. I daresay that will keep us all plenty busy until the Lord Jesus returns.

We never outgrow the need to hear the gospel, and to show the gospel in love to others.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

"If a missional community saw itself primarily as the Spirit's steward of the calling and gifts of its members, its internal activities would, in one sense, diminish. It would spend much less time on providing activities that take its members out of the world. It would devote more of its times of gathering for the equipping, support, and accountability of its member-missionaries.

The ancient sense of the conclusion of public worship as the sending out of God's people would be translated into the concrete forms of congregational life. Our concept of "active church member" would, of course, have to change. We would expect to see less of our more mature and accountable members, and focus more of our gathered time on the young, the new Christians, those in training for their missionary vocation." Darrell Guder, Missional Church

Monday, January 22, 2007

Is that really you God? II

A Hunger For Communion

I don’t understand prayer. I never hear from God. Prayer is the weakest part of my Christian life. I hear comments like this quite a bit. I’ve even made some of them!

I hear people say, “I hate prayer meetings. They usually involve more ‘sharing’ than praying!”

There was one year when the church that I was apart of had a prayer gathering leading up to the New Year. We ‘prayed’ from 1100 PM- 1200 AM. I have to admit I felt very strange when we heard the fireworks go off while we were supposedly being more ‘spiritual’ by solemnly praying.

There are no landing strips for prayer, only launching pads. We’re learners together.

If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea. Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Yearn for God. Do you have a hunger for communion with Him?

Were a man to awaken in the pitch dark at midnight and hear someone moving about in his room, and know that the unseen presence was a loved member of his family who had every right to be there, his heart might be filled with a sense of quiet pleasure; but should he have reason to believe that an intruder had entered, perhaps to rob or to kill, he would lie in terror and stare at the darkness not knowing from which direction the expected blow might come. But the difference between experience and no experience would be that acute sense of someone there. Is it not true that for most of us who call ourselves Christians there is no real experience? We have substituted theological ideas for an arresting encounter; we are full of religious notions, but our great weakness is that for our hearts there is no one there.

Whatever else it embraces, true Christian experience must always include a genuine encounter with God. Without this, religion is but a shadow, a reflection of reality, a cheap copy of an original once enjoyed by someone else of whom we have heard.
A.W. Tozer

"Suppose you picked up a friend to hang out with, and the first thing you said to that friend was, ‘I need you to come by the house tonight. My wife and I need your advice on something. And could you run to the pharmacy for me? I need you to pick up a prescription. And can I have a loan? By the way, can you buy me lunch?’ "

Ever ask for something from God that you didn't receive?

Ever pray for guidance, especially in a difficult relationship, that never came?

Ever really need to hear God’s voice and then try to believe you did, even though you weren’t sure?

Do you sometimes feel that God is turning a deaf ear to your most desperate requests?

Have you ever prayed for comfort yet ended up feeling more empty and alone after you prayed?

Has praying for strength to overcome temptation ever left you feeling just as weak and the temptation just as strong, or even stronger?

Do you know God well enough to enjoy His company, the same way you enjoy being with a family member or close friend?

Do you want to know God better and enjoy Him more than you know and enjoy anyone else?

Do you connect with God in such a way that enables you to hear His voice and to know He’s right there with you?

How about one-liner prayers? Does your prayer life consist of the “Please God keep me from blowing up at my kid”?

“Please God let the dentist find nothing else wrong to drill.”

“God, don’t let this deal fall through”

“Help me to drive home safely on these slippery streets.”

Is there a difference between asking God to give you the life you want and asking God to help you to know Him better?

The first is perhaps best characterized by the spoiled child prayer idea. It’s the idea that prayer is more asking of God, as if He’s a cosmic vending machine.

The first thing in prayer is to get God. If you get Him, everything else follows. Allow God to get at you, to invade you, to take possession of you. He then pours His prayers through you. They are His prayers-God-inspired, and hence, God answered.

Prayer’s like the fastening of the cup to the wounded side of a pine tree to allow the resin to pour into it. You are now nestling up into the side of God-the wounded side, if you will-and you allow His grace to fill you up. You are taking in the very life of God.
E. Stanley Jones

Do you pray just to get things from God? How many relationships like that do you have? What are they like?

Have you ever seen a child in a mall with a parent, the child is probably too old for the stroller but is still in it, and every time it sees something it likes if he or she doesn’t get it, they pout, or make a scene?

Have you been that parent? How about that child?

Luke 9:23
"If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross daily, and follow me.”

1 Thessalonians 5:18
Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

James 4:7-10
So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.

The humble learn the fastest because they don't waste time on defending a false image.

For many of us, we have had a blocking paradigm of seeing prayer as getting something from God. This is called false prayer, a me-centered life.

That is not the model of true life and prayer with Jesus Christ. Relational prayer is the center of all true prayer. The power of petitionary prayer, asking God for things depends on the centrality of relational prayer.

This is the model of having a hunger for communion with God.

Matthew 4:4
Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: "It takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God's mouth."

Isaiah 55:1-3
“Is anyone thirsty? Come and drink—even if you have no money! Come, take your choice of wine or milk—it’s all free! Why spend your money on food that does not give you strength? Why pay for food that does you no good? Listen to me, and you will eat what is good. You will enjoy the finest food. “Come to me with your ears wide open.

Listen, and you will find life. I will make an everlasting covenant with you. I will give you all the unfailing love I promised to David.

"Imagine that Jesus is coming into this room right now. He’s walking in the door. He’s looking around the room, and He sees you. He’s approaching, and now he’s sitting down right next to you. What does Jesus want to say to you?"

Now imagine Him leading you to receive communion- by the arm. I believe that these are some things that He wants to say in our midst:

You are my child Jesus

As my disciple, you are my friend Jesus

You are free from any condemnation brought against you, and you cannot be separated from my love Jesus

You are a minister of reconciliation for me Jesus

You may approach me with freedom and confidence Jesus

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Live In Spiritual Community

Unless you do, you really won't get much done, at least of any value.

The blessings that flow from unity in spiritual community as expressed in Ephesians 4 are gifts of faith, trust, commitment and grace and they come only from God.

As Robert Suderman writes in Faith Today, "It is profoundly comforting to know that what we long for most is not ours to give but ours to accept....Our task is not to create unity but to 'maintain' the unity that comes from God. Our differences will not destroy the unity that God generates in the church."

Go ahead, trust God and embrace spiritual community.

Ephesians 4:15-16
Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

The word community has many connotations, some positive, some negative. Community can make us think of a safe togetherness, shared meals, common goals, and joyful celebrations. It also can call forth images of sectarian exclusivity, in-group language, self-satisfied isolation, and romantic naiveté. However, community is first of all a quality of the heart. It grows from the spiritual knowledge that we are alive not for ourselves but for one another.

Community is the fruit of our capacity to make the interests of others more important than our own (see Philippians 2:4). The question, therefore, is not "How can we make community?" but "How can we develop and nurture giving hearts?" Henri Nouwen

Friday, January 19, 2007

What Cancer Cannot Do

Cancer is so limited.
It cannot cripple love.
It cannot shatter hope.
It cannot corrode faith.
It cannot eat away peace.
It cannot destroy confidence.
It cannot kill friendship.
It cannot shut out memories.
It cannot silence courage.
It cannot invade the soul.
It cannot reduce eternal life.
It cannot quench the spirit.

Job 12:10
For the life of every living thing is in his hand, and the breath of every human being.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Strength To Love

Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies - or else? The chain reaction of evil - hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars - must be broken, or else we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation. Martin Luther King Jr.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Throw open the doorway to your heart....

"Jesus did not come to make good men better, he came to make dead men live." John Wesley

Ephesians 2
Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Are you a loner?
Are you a bad listener?
Do you talk too much?
Are you unforgiving?
Do you have cutting speech?
Are you irresponsible?
Are you argumentative?
Are you selfish?

Monday, January 15, 2007

Time to pray?

Sunday, January 14, 2007

God: How Interested?

God is very interested in our lives and demonstrates this through His connection with us. Being human, we miss God in the normal day to day. For us to be changed more and more into His likeness, we must somehow discover how to recognize His hand at work in our life. Then we need to process it so that the event can be used as an opportunity for God to shape our character. When we start to see God's interactions with us as daily events we understand more fully that "We are," as Stephen Covey once said, "not human beings on a spiritual journey but spiritual beings on a human journey."

God is more connected with our human journey than we often realize.

Recently some amazing things have happened in my life as God gently went about his daily routine of loving me; His presence, hardly noticeable on the radar. Then was like running into a freighter. Matt Day

Do we really believe that one of the names of Jesus is 'Immanuel' (Hebrew for "God is with us")?

Saturday, January 13, 2007

What does God say to you when you watch this?

Friday, January 12, 2007

Found a spiritual community?

"Where human frailty once served as a reason for me to withdraw from the church, with its unruly and divergent congregants, this is now what compels me back to spiritual community. I had overlooked one essential factor—that I am as finite and flawed as everyone else." Carmen Renee Berry

"You've been living in doubt and visiting your faith; it's time to live in your faith and visit your doubts."

A spiritual community is a place where broken people find relationships that are accepting and are encouraged to grow. It is a place where we help each other hear the voice of the Father.

Screwed up? Come join us in the club...

1 Thessalonians 2:7-8
We were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Your Deepest Personal Fears...

What are they?

Have you talked to God about them? Perhaps even asking Him to reveal what they are?

Be careful what you pray for...

You need only claim the events of your life to make yourself yours. When you truly possess all you have been and are fierce with reality. Florida Scott-Maxwell

Romans 8:35-39
Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ's love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:

They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We're sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us.
I'm absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God's love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Hearing the voice of God

A woman was walking through the forest and saw a fox that had lost its legs, and she wondered how it lived. Then she saw a tiger come up with game in its mouth. The tiger ate its fill and left the rest of the meat for the fox.

The next day God fed the fox by means of the same tiger. The woman began to wonder at God's greatness and said to herself, "I too will rest in a corner with full trust in God that He will provide me with all that I need."

She did this for many days but nothing happened, and she was almost at death's door when she heard a voice say, "Dearest little one who is on the path of error, open your eyes to the truth. Stop imitating the wounded fox and follow the example of the tiger."
Psalm 34:8
Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see— how good God is. Blessed are you who run to him.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Speaking Without Words...

A box of chocolates...
A yellow ribbon...
A dozen roses...
A rainbow...
What does God use to speak to you?
“What if I were to believe truly that it is all glorious?”

Monday, January 08, 2007

Is that really you God?

'Rizzo, come here, my Cap'n Alphabet is sending me a message: R U There.' Gonzo

'Are you sure it didn't say R U NUTS?'" Rizzo

"Hearing the voice of God"

Praying, talking to God, actually communicating with Him.

We don’t pray in a vacuum- we have issues, concerns, thoughts etc. This is not a gimmick, a formula, but a place to begin a journey or to continue on one.

Here’s a thought: do we grow because a) we hear God’s voice, or b) because we do what is asked? Now you need both, but a precedes b. if we don’t get this straight, we often superimpose our story on others.

I will share from my own story, as that is my filter of experience. My hope is that it will help you unpack your own conversation with God.

I have known profound times of hearing God’s voice and other times of awkward silence; times of frantic activity where everything I thought was for God but as I look back on it realize much of it was for me. Perhaps you can relate to that.

We need holding places where we can talk about these experiences, both the positive and the shadowy. Otherwise we live and pretend as if success with God and knowing His voice is all we’ve ever known. When darkness descends around us we can easily develop a case of terminal failure.

Has God spoken to you through misery? How about those moments of inexplicable grace where you hear God say, ‘I love you _’?

Jeremiah 31:31-34
"That's right. The time is coming when I will make a brand-new covenant with Israel and Judah. It won't be a repeat of the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took their hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant even though I did my part as their Master." God's Decree.

"This is the brand-new covenant that I will make with Israel when the time comes. I will put my law within them—write it on their hearts!—and be their God. And they will be my people. They will no longer go around setting up schools to teach each other about God. They'll know me firsthand, the dull and the bright, the smart and the slow. I'll wipe the slate clean for each of them. I'll forget they ever sinned!" God's Decree.

How do we reframe and experience the new reality that is ours through Jesus Christ?

“We need to understand that many of us pursue models of spiritual maturity that do not work” Larry Crabb

Work hard and do what is right. Fix what is wrong. Get what is missing. What we really require is a dependence model of spiritual maturity, where we get to know who God really is and communicate with Him.

Prayer is primarily about building a relationship with God. It is communicating with transformational intent.

If we really don’t, or aren’t able to communicate with God, we will live as functional atheists: saying pious words about God’s presence in our lives but believing, on the contrary, that nothing good is going to happen unless we make it happen.

Deuteronomy 30:19-20
I call Heaven and Earth to witness against you today: I place before you Life and Death, Blessing and Curse. Choose life so that you and your children will live. And love God, your God, listening obediently to him, firmly embracing him. Oh yes, he is life itself, a long life settled on the soil that God, your God, promised to give your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Why does God say something so obvious?

“The chief purpose of prayer is to get to know God, to deepen our relationship with Him, to nourish the life of God He has already placed within us, and to do it all to satisfy His desire for relationship with us.” Larry Crabb

1 Chronicles 16:8-11
Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice. Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.

Relationally speaking, what does God want from me?

God wants me to see His face.

Jeremiah 29:13
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Psalm 105:3-4
Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice. Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.

God wants to communicate some important bits of information.

“I love you.”

Jeremiah 31:3
The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.”

Romans 5:1-8
By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that's not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God's grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.

There's more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!

Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn't, and doesn't, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn't been so weak, we wouldn't have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.

“I am a perfect father.”

Matthew 7:7-12
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.
"Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

“I can be trusted.”

Hosea 14:9
If you want to live well, make sure you understand all of this. If you know what's good for you, you'll learn this inside and out. God's paths get you where you want to go. Right-living people walk them easily; wrong-living people are always tripping and stumbling.

Psalm 118:5-9
In my anguish I cried to the LORD, and he answered by setting me free. The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me? The LORD is with me; he is my helper. I will look in triumph on my enemies. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes.

“I want to be your strength.”

1 Chronicles 29:10-13
David praised the LORD in the presence of the whole assembly, saying, "Praise be to you, O LORD, God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.

“If we imagine we have any strength apart from God, we will have to break the neck of our strength over some obstacle before we are willing to rely upon Him. Our own strength is the backbone of the natural life, but not the life of God. There will be a wobble in our walk of faith until the vision of faith and the reality are one and the same.”
Oswald Chambers

“I want to be your greatest desire.”

Psalm 63:1
O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.

Commit to relational prayer: “Hide-nothing, tell-everything, share-anything

Journal, and do it as if you’re talking to God. The average group can tolerate no more than 15 seconds of silence.

Prayer is inner work. If we cut corners here, we cut corners everywhere. Though this is inner work, and is deeply personal, it is not necessarily a private matter. We must do inner work together, as opposed to just alone. We can only find community by doing inner work together.

Here is where there’s always confusion: doing this in community still doesn’t identify the ‘how’ question. One thing is clear: we can’t do this with the intention of ‘setting each other straight’.

Don’t set each other straight!

The Hebrew word for desert is midbaar, from the word dahbar, which means to speak.

Hosea 2:14
"Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.”

God has always desired to speak to us tenderly.

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains; it is a megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” C.S. Lewis

It’s often a lack of maturity that forces God to shout, but we need to discover this our self.

The direction of duty lies not in doing things for God, but in doing what God tells us to do. Oswald Chambers

Have you ever confused the teaching with the teacher? Perhaps you had a great mentor, instructor, even a parent or grandparent. But now they’re gone, and all you have is their teaching. It lives on. Such is only partly the case with Jesus. The teaching lives on, but the teacher is still with us. He has promised to never leave or forsake us.

John 14:18-21
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him."

Let God speak to you this week. Speak to Him. Lets really listen together…

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Life is like a game of chance- some you win and some you lose.

Life is like a battle- you get the enemy or they get you.

Life is like a grindstone. Sometimes it grinds us down and sometimes it polishes us up.

What is life like for you?

John 10:10
I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Be still and know that I am God.

I will never fail you or forsake you.

The things that are impossible with men are possible with God.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Cast your burden upon the Lord, and he will sustain you.

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Ezekiel 36:26
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

"If you are not a holy Christian, you are not a Bible Christian." Phoebe Palmer

"Be killing sin or it will be killing you." John Owen

"Never any soul did or shall perish by the power of any lust, sin, or corruption, who could raise his soul by faith to an expectation of relief from Jesus Christ." John Owen, Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers

Romans 6:14
For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.

Matthew 5:48
Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The Rage

My favorite Seinfeld character has always been Michael Richards. A couple of months ago he hurled racial epithets at some hecklers at a comedy act in LA.

When I watched his apology on Letterman I was struck by the pain he had discovered in his own soul. Richards called it 'the rage within.'
I have to admit I was shocked by what he said in the nightclub- the sheer force of anger and cruelty. I had just bought a couple of seasons worth of old episodes of Seinfeld, and felt uneasy watching them. Certainly I forgave his actions but struggled about how to view him and contemplate laughing at his humor.
His apology struck me as genuine. I appreciated that his friend Jerry Seinfeld helped make the bit happen on the Letterman show as sign of friendship and support. I saw a man truly repulsed by what hatred he was capable of, and in that momemt discovered the key to my own heart and deep forgiveness for Richards himself.

Lew Smedes writes this about forgiving cruelties: "Forgiveness happens only when we first admit our hurt and scream our hate.

In the creative violence of love, you reach into the unchangeable past and cut away the wrong from the person who wronged you; you erase the hurt in the archives of your heart.

It is the beginning of a new journey together. We must begin where we are, not at an ideal place for reunion. … Nasty questions are unanswered. The future is uncertain; we have more hurts and more forgiving ahead of us."

Who of us would want our worst moment caught on video and posted to the entire world to see? Thanks for the grace of God to wipe the tape and the slate clean.
Romans 3:23
All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Hebrews 4:16
Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

How do souls get knit together in friendship?

The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The next best time is now.” Chinese Proverb

" human affairs nothing more sacred is striven for, nothing more useful is sought after, nothing more difficult is discovered, nothing more sweet experienced, and nothing more profitable possessed. For friendship bears fruit in this life and in the next." Eldred

Friendship is one of the sweetest joys of life. Many might have failed beneath the bitterness of their trial had they not found a friend. Charles Spurgeon

What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies. Aristotle

Proverbs 18:24
Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family.

Proverbs 17:17
Friends love through all kinds of weather, and families stick together in all kinds of trouble.

Hebrews 10:24-25
Let's see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Who Will You Bow Down To This Year?

Will I take the mark of the beast in order to engage in commerce and society?

What would you do?

“Our lord and our god commands you…” Domitian letterhead

Great are you our lord and god. Worthy are you to receive honor and glory and power. Worthy are you lord of the earth to inherit the kingdom. Lord of lords, highest of the high. Lord of the earth, god of all things. Lord god and savior for eternity. Domitian benediction

“Domitian was the very first emperor to truly understand that behind the Christian movement there stood an enigmatic figure that threatened the glory of the emperor. He was the first to declare open war on this figure …” Ethelbert Stauffer

What do I do? Everybody is doing it.

Revelation 2
I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

Revelation 4
After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this." At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits of God. Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.

In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second was like an ox, the third had a face like a man, the fourth was like a flying eagle. Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying:

"Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come."

Whenever the living creatures give glory, honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne and who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:

"You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being."

Revelation 5

Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, "Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?" But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. Then one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals."

Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song:

"You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth."

Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang:

"Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!"

Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing:

"To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!"

The four living creatures said, "Amen," and the elders fell down and worshiped.

Whatever you do, don’t bow down!

You can do it!

May you identify your Domitians.

May you see them as they are.

May you never bow down because you’ve seen the throne, and who’s really on it.