Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Discipline in our spiritual life is the concentrated effort to create the space and time where God can become our master and where we can respond freely to God's guidance.

Thus, discipline is the creation of boundaries that keep time and space open for God. Solitude requires discipline, worship requires discipline, caring for others requires discipline. They all ask us to set apart a time and a place where God's gracious presence can be acknowledged and responded to. (Henri Nouwen Society)

Can you slow your life down enough to sit with God and listen?

Matthew 4:2
Jesus retreats to the wilderness to fast and pray.

Mark 1:35
Jesus rose early and went away to be alone in prayer.

Mark 6:31, 46
Before and after the feeding of the 5000, Jesus went away to retreat, to pray, and to rest.

Luke 6:12
Jesus retreated to spend a night in prayer before the choosing of the 12 disciples.

Luke 9:18-28
Before and leading up to the Transfiguration, he was “praying in private” with his disciples with him.

Mark 14:32-35 (Matthew 26:39)
After the Last Supper and before his arrest, Jesus went to a garden to pray.

Luke 5:16
Jesus withdrew to lonely places and prayed as a regular habit.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Who's Universe Do you Live In?

Psychologists don't usually agree on very much, except for the belief that human beings want to be in charge of their own destiny. Or at least have the illusion of being in charge.
Jeremiah 29
This is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon:
"Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper."
For I know the plans I have for you; plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile."

Monday, February 26, 2007

Is that really you God? Abandon Yourself To Holiness

I emailed an old friend recently, asking if he had been 'detoxing from church'. This was the reply:

If you mean by detoxing, getting away from all the rote and things we do on Sunday mornings and ask why do we that, or the Christian sub culture and how out of touch it really with the rest of society, or wondering why organized religion, why can't we meet in homes, or man there are more crappy leaders out there then I thought, or where does some one who is not about all the bells and whistles of the church and just wants Jesus for their soul and the souls of others, if you mean how my language was so churched up I did not even know what I was saying, if you mean how grace is a great word thrown around but how much it is not practiced, if you mean that there are way to many broken hurting peeps that go to church who will not find healing, if you mean that pastor is a title that leaders cherish more then they lead on, or do you mean that the arrogance of the church has blinded how much sin really goes on, do you mean that we actually wont admit it but there is so much bigotry and racism in the church, do you mean that we are not practice what we preach to the greatest level I have ever seen, do you mean that the homeless and the orphans and widows are the new lepers in Canada, do you mean that the church would not stand tall on any other issue besides same sex marriage...... breath...............I could go on...

Stew my time away from the church has been refreshing and soul searching to see how I have contributed to so many of the dropped balls of the church. I believe that the church offers hope through Christ but if we dont get back to the real roots of Christ DNA, message and love, we are flying through space at warp speed headed on a collision course towards nothing, that's the problem we seem to stand for nothing these days. I know there are good and great things the Holy Spirit is allowing to happen in this country and world, but man most of us me included need to put our crap aside and get out of the way, my humanness without the sanctification (yes a church word that fits) of Christ my flesh will always try to claim victory.

I am learning but dude my time off was more educational then any seminary could give me.

Perhaps you can identify with the themes my old friend is speaking of. I know that I can, as are many others I speak to regularly.

Man is born broken. He lives by mending. The grace of God is glue. Eugene O’Neill

Two years ago I spoke about Brian ‘Head' Welch becoming a Christ follower and leaving the band Korn. Some commented, "Just wait a couple of years. We'll see if he's so excited then."

I visited his website just this last week and watched some videos about Brian. He's still just as excited about following Jesus Christ. He still speaks about hearing God's voice. It reminded me about the difference between an introduction & a relationship.

Some of us were introduced to Jesus years ago, but never really formed a relationship with God.

Many speak of a personal encounter with Jesus as a one-time occurrence that in fact was many years ago. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Psalm 25:14
The LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.

God knows us so well. Our ups and our downs. Our ins and our outs, so to speak. He knows what we go through- the sadness, the anger, the fear, the happiness and joy. The reality of our anxiety and how it paralyzes us at times.

In the midst of all that, God whispers to us that we are a one of a kind masterpiece. We are welcome to come to Him anytime. He’ll whisper that Jesus loves me, that the Father is singing over me. He’ll say to you that given your uniqueness there is a very special mission for you to advance the kingdom of God. And only you can do your part!

That voice of God can be heard in our heart. The Holy Spirit carries it into the depths of our soul where you and I can hear it.

But most of us don’t hear it, not always, and sometimes not at all. Why not?

There is always some excitement over the initial moments of anything, be it joining a health club or your Christian life. There's nothing wrong with that at all. However, many of us fizz out when the disciplined work of training finally sets in.

Today we look at a little of that hard work, the internal scouring that goes on in us as we are conformed to His image.

In the PAPA Prayer we have looked at

P - Present yourself to God. presenting

A - Attend to how you are thinking of God. attending

As we pray through these thoughts we’ll often come to realize how intensely we want to experience God, and strangley enough how stubbornly we resist Him. We will also fel humbled at the majesty of God; His power and glory; we’ll relaize that we are powerless before God. Any true experience of God is given by Him and not achieved by us.

Our part in making ourself avalable for relationship with God involves our willingness to recognize and confess the obstacles we have created between ourselves and our Papa.

Here’s where we crash full force into the problem of our self deception. We’re blind to our worst faults. We can readily see what’s wrong with everyone else, but we can’t see- we don’t want to see- what’s wrong with us.

Something is wrong with us and it’s serious. We are all living with relational difficulties that we don not see. The Bible calls it sin. We assume our friendships are close but in reality we’re on different planets.

We need to experience the trust of God, otherwise terror goes underground and we’re not even aware of our relational fears and sin.

1 John 4:18
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

P - Purge yourself of anything that blocks your relationship with God. Purging

What does that really mean?

We simply recognize and cast off with God’s help what is most wrong with the way we relate. What most needs purging in our lives is easily seen, and what is most wrong with us shows up most reliably in the way we relate. Deep purging always invovles relational sin. Deep purging always centres on how we treat God.

A simple way to do this is to ask God two questions:

1. What’s wrong with the way I relate?

2. What do I want most in this relationship?

This is the beginning of abandoning ourselves to God’s holiness. All that means is that when we come to God in prayer, we are wanting to see where we’re wrong in the way we relate more than we want someone else to admit how they're wrong in the way they relate to us.

1 Peter 1:15
But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;

We’re already forgiven for not being holy. God never commands holy action without giving holy desire.

Leviticus 11:44-45
I am the LORD your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy. I am the LORD who brought you up out of Egypt to be your God; therefore be holy, because I am holy.

We are basically being told to set ourselves apart for our primary relationship- our first love. We are to depend on no one, not even ourselves, the way we depend on God. We can’t earn it so we abandon ourselves to that which God has already given to us.

Relational sin is anything we do for the primary purpose of getting something for ourselves.

To purge purself of it is to ask God, ”Papa, I really do want to see where I’m wrong in the way I relate to You, and to my friends, and my spouse (if you’re married). Will you show me? And Papa, more than anything else, I know that way down deep I have a desire, a holy desire, to treat other people the way You treat me. Will You release that desire?”

Psalm 139:23-24
Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I'm about; See for yourself whether I've done anything wrong— then guide me on the road to eternal life.

The following examples are from Larry Crabb in The PAPA Prayer:

A hurting wife: God I don't know what to do about my husband. I feel so unheard, so unnoticed. He rarely makes me feel cherished. I feel like I’m losing my identity. I hate myself. I have no sense of my worth as a woman.

Not abandoned to holiness and unaware of relational sin the prayer might be:

“Please God, either change him or show me how I can live with him, how I can find my voice when I’m with him. God, I need to know You’ll be with me, to feel your love, to not feel so wounded and alone. Please, help me learn how to live with my husband without losing myself.”

Abandoned to holiness and aware of relational sin:

“Oh God, I’m seeing it. nothing matters more to me than whether I feel good about myself. I relate to my husband with no real thought of revealing Your character to him. I don’t even know what that would look like. I don’t know You well enough to want to reveal You to my wife. Have mercy!”

A distraught dad: God, my son has been using illegal drugs for two years. I’m terrified he’ll ruin his life. I’ve tried everything- tough love, counseling, backing off. I feel like such a failure as a father.

Not abandoned to holiness and unaware of relational sin the prayer might be:

“Please God, show me what’s wrong with my son so I can know what to do. I’l do anything. Anything! Just make him better. It all seems so unfair! I know dads who spent almost no time with their kids, who provide no spiritual input, and their kids are solid, growing Christians. I just don’t get it. but I know You have a plan for my family. Please just show me how to reach my son’s heart.”

Abandoned to holiness and aware of relational sin:

“Oh God, as I present myself to You, I’m beginning to see what’s at stake for me. I’m terrified I’ll never be able to accept myself as a man until my son straightens out. It’s all about me! I see it. and it’s wrong. As long as that terror drives me, I’m not loving anybody- not my son, not my wife, not You. god, I’ve been living to enjoy my family, not for Your glory. I’ve been obsesse with my dreams and demanding that You fulfill them. Have mercy!”

A depressed person: God, I’m sliding deeper into a dark hole, I’m crying for hours every day. I never feel good or happy. I know I’m getting really negative and that my friends are tired of me being so down, but I just feel so bad.

Not abandoned to holiness and unaware of relational sin the prayer might be:

“Please God, heal my wounds. Something must be really getting to me, but I don’t really what it is. A lot is going wrong right now- my arthritis is worse, my friends rarely call, and I don’t like my job. Please guide me to the right therapist or pastor, or to a doctor who can prescribe the best medication. I don’t know how much longer I can go on living like this. Please, help me feel better.”

Abandoned to holiness and aware of relational sin:

“Oh God, nobody would be drawn to you because of me. I see it! by the way I’m living, I’m telling the world that You’re only worth praising You when things are good, and that trusting You when things are bad means only that I’m hoping things in my life will get better. Of course I want them to, and it would make me feel better if things in my life went better. But in the middle of all this, I’m not relating to You. I’m using You. Have mercy!”

When we purge ourselves before God, our Papa, we will sense our limitations and our failures and of how we always fall short of relating as God does to others. But that focus will not make us hate ourself, only our sin, not ourself.

It doesn’t leave us discouraged and heavily burdened either. Broken, yes, but not despairing. It leads us to the loving arms of the Father.

Hebrews 4:14-16
Now that we know what we have—Jesus, this great High Priest with ready access to God—let's not let it slip through our fingers. We don't have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He's been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let's walk right up to him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.

Larry Crabb writes, “I do not believe that we hear Papa’s voice until we discover an empty, desolate void within us that is teeming with passionate desires for fulness. Until we can cut through all the legitimate happiness and pleasure in our lives, until we look beneath every sorrow and heartache that comes from living in this world, and until we enter the deepest space in our hearts that is painfully, horribly empty, we will not discover the beautiful sound of our Fathers voice.”

A – Approach God as the ‘first love’ in your life. Approaching

In speaking with someone this past week they shared of praying and despairing of their life and insecurities when they heard deep within their being God say, “Everything is okay. I love you.”

In our emptiness, in our honesty with God, as we allow Him to clean us up, we can discover His love in fresh and new ways. Staleness doesn’t have to permeate our sense of knowing God’s voice or presence in our life!

When we stand naked before God’s holiness we are truly ready to receive all that he offers. The more you see your sin, the more you’ll be amazed by grace.

Hosea 14:4-9
"I will heal their waywardness. I will love them lavishly. My anger is played out. I will make a fresh start with Israel. He'll burst into bloom like a crocus in the spring. He'll put down deep oak tree roots, he'll become a forest of oaks!

He'll become splendid—like a giant sequoia, his fragrance like a grove of cedars!Those who live near him will be blessed by him, be blessed and prosper like golden grain. Everyone will be talking about them, spreading their fame as the vintage children of God.
Ephraim is finished with gods that are no-gods. From now on I'm the one who answers and satisfies him. I am like a luxuriant fruit tree. Everything you need is to be found in me."

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.

We can stand before God as a loved child. Amazing!

Why am I so passionate about this idea of relational prayer, of learning to hear the Father’s voice? It is the heart of following the Jesus way.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Philippians 4:6-7
Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

What does it take to live a life of hope and joy in a time of cynicism?

Somewhere along the journey of our life, we all lose a sense of our own innocence, a sense of the wonder of following the Jesus way.
One thing that has encouraged me along the journey is meeting or reading about like-minded Kingdom Friends who have chosen to be “for” people and movements that build the kingdom, rather than bring them individual glory or those that just wail against the darkness around us.
Bob Buford has three rules that help him focus on being a Kingdom Builder, not a wrecker:
1. Build on the islands of health and strength
2. Work only with those who are receptive to what I am trying to do and with what is trying to be born.
3. To work on things that have a multiplier effect (“hundred-fold yield”).
No one can give what they don't have.
Romans 14:17
God's kingdom isn't a matter of what you put in your stomach, for goodness' sake. It's what God does with your life as he sets it right, puts it together, and completes it with joy. Your task is to single-mindedly serve Christ. Do that and you'll kill two birds with one stone: pleasing the God above you and proving your worth to the people around you.
Colossians 3:2
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Living Messy Lives With A Real God In The Middle Of It...

'Messy spirituality is the Christianity most of us live but few of us admit!' Mike Yaconelli

Drew Marshall won't be seen on 100 Huntley Street again. Too bad.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Who Needs You To Listen?

James 1:19-24
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

No pressure, no diamonds

This magnitude of pressure is difficult to comprehend. The pressure of 55,000 atmospheres necessary to make a diamond at 1400 degrees C (orange hot) would require the Eiffel Tower (7000 metric tons) resting on a 5 inch plate!

Luke 6
Jesus said,
"You're blessed when you've lost it all. God's kingdom is there for the finding. You're blessed when you're ravenously hungry. Then you're ready for the Messianic meal. You're blessed when the tears flow freely. Joy comes with the morning.

Count yourself blessed every time someone cuts you down or throws you out, every time someone smears or blackens your name to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and that that person is uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—skip like a lamb, if you like!—for even though they don't like it, I do . . . and all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company; my preachers and witnesses have always been treated like this.

But it's trouble ahead if you think you have it made. What you have is all you'll ever get. And it's trouble ahead if you're satisfied with yourself. Your self will not satisfy you for long. And it's trouble ahead if you think life's all fun and games. There's suffering to be met, and you're going to meet it.

There's trouble ahead when you live only for the approval of others, saying what flatters them, doing what indulges them. Popularity contests are not truth contests—look how many scoundrel preachers were approved by your ancestors! Your task is to be true, not popular."

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Smile Test

Do People Smile When You Enter The Room or When You Exit the Room?
Think this scenario over while at work, in your family, on your sports team, in your neighborhood, at your school, or anyhwere else that you can think of.
What might God be saying to you?

Monday, February 19, 2007

Is that really you God? The PAPA Prayer II

Colossians 1:9-14
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

This series is meant to awaken, to cultivate a place where we live in an attitude of God consciousness. We have looked at me-centered prayer that takes us out of God-consciousness. It’s a lifelong challenge. This is how author Donald Miller puts it:

The most difficult lie I have ever contended with is this: Life is a story about me.”

“We’re all bad at prayer” John Ortberg, The Life You’ve Always Wanted

One of the downsides of being a Christian for any length of time is the ease with which answers come through the lips – regardless of whether they spring from the heart.

C. S. Lewis once wrote that there is all the difference in the world between reading a map of the coastline and feeling the spray of the ocean upon your face. People come to church, he said, not to be taught to read maps about God, but to feel the spray.

Do you want to feel the spray? I do.

As we have been unpacking the PAPA prayer- Jesus called God the Father Abba, a term very similar in feel to Papa, daddy, very relational, full of love and trust. Papa forms an acronym:

P - Present yourself to God. presenting

A - Attend to how you are thinking of God. attending

P - Purge yourself of anything that blocks your relationship with God. purging

A – Approach God as the ‘first thing’ in your life. approaching

Today we will look at the first two, not in a formulaic way; remember prayer is a launching pad to relationship with God. We will look at it in the context of communion, and we’ll do that with a distinct flavor today as well.

P - Present yourself to God. Your emotional bottle. Stop trying to be who you think you should be and just tell God about where you are. Get in tune with whatever is going on inside of you.

Presenting yourself to God is to simply say, ‘God, this is me.’ At the mall the directions kiosk has a little star on the map, ‘you are here’. That’s all you say to God. ‘Here I am. I’m happy, I’m sad; I’m angry; I’m scared.’ Don’t just explain it though as if it’s a medical diagnosis with detachment, really let the thoughts and feelings come out of your heart.

That honesty is on our part is a breath of fresh air for God. Have you noticed on some mall signs they now trace a map from where you are to where you want to go? I might be here but I am in such unfamiliar territory I need help with the simplest of directions. Do you ever feel like that with God? Me too.

Jesus is constantly giving us those directions: through the Bible; through others guidance and counsel; through that still small voice that speaks within our heart and mind. Interestingly, Jesus’ direction isn’t always concrete; it’s often more attitudinal. It’s more relational.

Do you have a fearful, or angry disposition with God and others, perhaps even yourself?

Or will we let Him cultivate a spirit of trust, and active surrender to a life of love and service in ourselves?

That’s what communion is about in many ways. When the Israelites celebrated deliverance from slavery in Egypt in the festival called Passover, because passed over them, they used wine. Today we use juice.

Wine is called the blood of grapes in Genesis 49:11. It was a symbol of friendship and covenant, a forerunner to the heavenly banquet, and these symbols were made clear when Jesus took the wine at His last Passover, gave thanks for it, and gave it to the disciples saying, “this cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you.”

Mathew 20:20-23
It was about that time that the mother of the Zebedee brothers came with her two sons and knelt before Jesus with a request.
"What do you want?" Jesus asked.
She said, "Give your word that these two sons of mine will be awarded the highest places of honor in your kingdom, one at your right hand, one at your left hand."
Jesus responded, "You have no idea what you're asking." And he said to James and John, "Are you capable of drinking the cup that I'm about to drink?"
They said, "Sure, why not?"
Jesus said, "Come to think of it, you are going to drink my cup. But as to awarding places of honor, that's not my business. My Father is taking care of that."

This cup is the same thing you have in your hand: a cup of wine/juice- a cup of blood. Of freedom and obedience; and a cup of happiness and peace in the midst of difficulty and tough times.

That same question is asked of us, “Can you drink the cup?” Jesus wants that question to pierce our hearts so that our own personal answer can emerge, not a trite ‘Christian’ answer.

Before we drink the cup we must hold it and examine it. It’s like life- we don’t just live it; rather we must know what we are living. Reflection. Some of the greatest pain and joy of living come not only from what we live, but more from how we think and feel about what we are living.

This is what it means to present yourself to God. This cup is not drunk frivolously.

Matthew 26:37-38
"Stay here while I go over there and pray." Taking along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he plunged into an agonizing sorrow. Then he said, "This sorrow is crushing my life out. Stay here and keep vigil with me."

Luke 22:44
"Father, remove this cup from me. But please, not what I want. What do you want?" Sweat, wrung from him like drops of blood, poured off his face.

Matthew 26:39
"My Father, if there is any way, get me out of this. But please, not what I want. You, what do you want?"

Jesus presented Himself to God the Father, His Papa. He could say yes to the Father because He possessed a trust beyond betrayal, surrender beyond despair and a love beyond fears.

Luke 22:43
An angel from heaven was at his side, strengthening him. He prayed on all the harder.

Psalm 116:5; 10-13
The Lord is merciful and upright, our God is tenderness…
My trust doesn’t fail even when I say, “I am completely wretched.”
In my terror I said, “No human can be relied on.”
What return can I make to the Lord for His generosity to me? I shall take up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord.

The psalmist wasn’t afraid to really present himself to God. To be completely authentic. Say what’s in your heart. Make it a lifestyle to tell God where you are. Pay attention to your dreams. Walk thru that doorway to see where it leads with God.

Can you drink this cup?

A - Attend to how you are thinking of God. Never pretend, don’t try to convince yourself you’re seeing something you’re not. If God feels distant, tell God that.

Attending is about whom we think we’re talking to.

What picture of God comes to mind when you pray? Who do you assume He is? What’s He like?

Larry Crabb writes that, “The richest prayers often arise out of an emotionally empty heart.”

We are never more fully who we really are than when we follow God whether we experience Him or not. If you attend to God and sense only the darkness of a cave, you are perhaps in the best school for learning the Papa prayer. L. Crabb

Who do you see God as? A pygmy in a wheelchair- prayer is talking to an undersized person who’s too disabled, though he means well, to do much of anything?

Smiling buddy? Watchmaker? Cosmic vending machine? Impersonal force ala Star Wars?
Cruel tyrant? Moral crusader perhaps a ‘theological crusader’?

An upcoming movie illustrates this so well for me: Evan Almighty.

Hebrews 1:3
The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.

You hold in your hand a broken cracker symbolizing the broken body of Jesus Christ. This is the image of God we have in our midst in communion. A God who loved you & I so much that He came to be one of us.

It says in John 1 that God ‘tabernacled’, (literally tent); God tented with us! He took our form, subject to our desires and temptations, and showed us how to live. He died on a cross because we have in us an uncontrollable and unquenchable selfish streak that will lead us to death if not for Jesus.

Philippians 2:1-11
If you've gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don't push your way to the front; don't sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don't be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn't claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.

Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.

How’s that for an image of God?

Isaiah 52:13-53:12
"Just watch my servant blossom! Exalted, tall, head and shoulders above the crowd! But he didn't begin that way. At first everyone was appalled. He didn't even look human— a ruined face, disfigured past recognition. Nations all over the world will be in awe, taken aback, kings shocked into silence when they see him. For what was unheard of they'll see with their own eyes, what was unthinkable they'll have right before them."

Who believes what we've heard and seen? Who would have thought God's saving power would look like this?

The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling, a scrubby plant in a parched field.There was nothing attractive about him, nothing to cause us to take a second look.He was looked down on and passed over, a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand.One look at him and people turned away. We looked down on him, thought he was scum.But the fact is, it was our pains he carried— our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.We thought he brought it on himself, that God was punishing him for his own failures.But it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins!He took the punishment, and that made us whole. Through his bruises we get healed.We're all like sheep who've wandered off and gotten lost. We've all done our own thing, gone our own way.And God has piled all our sins, everything we've done wrong, on him, on him.

He was beaten, he was tortured, but he didn't say a word. Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered and like a sheep being sheared, he took it all in silence.Justice miscarried, and he was led off— and did anyone really know what was happening?He died without a thought for his own welfare, beaten bloody for the sins of my people.They buried him with the wicked, threw him in a grave with a rich man,Even though he'd never hurt a soul or said one word that wasn't true.

Still, it's what God had in mind all along, to crush him with pain.The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin so that he'd see life come from it—life, life, and more life. And God's plan will deeply prosper through him.

Out of that terrible travail of soul, he'll see that it's worth it and be glad he did it.Through what he experienced, my righteous one, my servant, will make many "righteous ones," as he himself carries the burden of their sins.Therefore I'll reward him extravagantly— the best of everything, the highest honors—Because he looked death in the face and didn't flinch, because he embraced the company of the lowest.He took on his own shoulders the sin of the many, he took up the cause of all the black sheep.

Lets eat to remember this God of ours. A suffering servant.

Next week we’ll look at:

P - Purge yourself of anything that blocks your relationship with God.

A – Approach God as the ‘first thing’ in your life.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

the verbs of God...

When God’s name is mentioned in Scripture, a verb is usually somewhere nearby.

God answers, bestows, blesses, blots, calls, cares, cleanses, clothes, comforts, corrects, counsels, covers, cuts off, delights, delivers, detests, disciplines, encourages, fills, forgives, gathers, gives, guards, guides, heals, hears, helps, holds, increases, keeps, knows, leads, lifts, listens, loves, opens, pours, protects, preserves, provides, purifies, rejoices, rejuvenates, remembers, rescues, restores, rewards, satisfies, saves, speaks, strengthens, sustains, teaches, upholds, watches, works, and wounds.

Our God is fully alive. He is ever-present. He is ever-active. He is ever-involved. Margaret Feinberg, Organic God (Zondervan, 2007)

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Being the Church...

We must be patient. We cannot weary of people and their inconsistencies.

Without complaining we must wait for them to become all that they can become.

Love is thoughtful. We must be kind, tenderhearted, and always gently compassionate with people's hearts.

The people in our lives are not objects to be possessed or manipulated. We have no desire to tether them to the mundane or the mediocre. We should enjoy seeing them fly in their faith.

Love is not arrogant and full of oneself. Our call to love means to pour ourselves out in service to those in our care.

We are never rude or self-seeking. In love we listen to their thoughts, but see their hearts. We do not demand cooperation or even love in return. We will walk side by side in friendship.

Love is not easily angered. Even though someone may be thoughtless, we must choose not to keep a list by which to condemn him/her. We cannot say, "Told you so," or hold their failures over their heads.

As ambassadors of Jesus, we value truth and we will celebrate when our friends and family walk in what they know to be that truth.

Love always protects. There are times those we care for will be vulnerable, and we must be a place they can run. In the raging storms of life we must be a calm safe harbor.

We must be people of trust. Even when our loved ones are questioning themselves, we must stand by them and believe in their integrity. They will sense our trust and live up to it.

Love always hopes for the best. We should anticipate great things from others and expect them to happen. We will hope for their true joy, a peace beyond understanding, love undying. We will hope for all good things for those we love.

We must always persevere. Even when people do not show up, or tend to complain, or choose to be self centered, we must stay the course, walk the extra mile, and stand by them when everyone else turns and walks away.

Love never fails. When every worldly philosophy is disfigured by flaws, and grand governments have collapsed, and churches dissolved, and friends, smocked in human frailties, have disappointed us, we must rely on a God, on a Father, who never fails.

After all is said and done, our greatest accomplishments matter little if we have not loved. For love is the most important thing.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Quit living as if the purpose of life is to arrive safely at death. Set God-sized goals. Pursue God-ordained passions. Go after a dream that is destined to fail without divine intervention.

Stop pointing out problems and become part of the solution. Stop criticizing and start creating. Stop playing it safe and start taking risks. Expand your horizons. Accumulate experiences. Consider the lilacs. Find every excuse you can to celebrate everything you can.

Don't let what's wrong with you keep you from worshipping what's right with God. Burn sinful bridges. Laugh at yourself. Keep making mistakes. Worry less about what people think and more about what God thinks. Don't try to be who you're not. Be yourself. Quit holding out. Quit holding back. Quit running away.

And remember: if God is for us who can be against us? Mark Batterson

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Father God,
enable us,
by your grace and empowerment,
to become . . .
expanders of life,
scatterers of laughter,
singers of songs,
makers of peace,
spreaders of good news,
healers of wounds,
tellers of truth,
practitioners of mercy,
sharers of joy,
weavers of community,
walkers in humility,
fulfillers of your dreams for us
spun in Jesus, our brother and Lord. Amen.
Ted Loder, My Heart in My Mouth: Prayers for our Lives

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Acts 17:24-28
"The God who made the world and everything in it, this Master of sky and land, doesn't live in custom-made shrines or need the human race to run errands for him, as if he couldn't take care of himself. He makes the creatures; the creatures don't make him.

Starting from scratch, he made the entire human race and made the earth hospitable, with plenty of time and space for living so we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark but actually find him. He doesn't play hide-and-seek with us. He's not remote; he's near. We live and move in him, can't get away from him! One of your poets said it well: 'We're the God-created.'

Matthew 6:33-34
Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God- provisions... "Give your entire attention to that God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes."

Matthew 22:37-39
Jesus said, " 'Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.' This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: 'Love others as well as you love yourself.'

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Hearing God In the Silence

by Terry LeBlanc

Two men met on the path of life one day, one going into the East and the other into the West. As they talked at this crossway of life they decided they might journey a while together seeking the truth of the world. They were brave men and hardy, surely a worthy task for them.

The one man was soft-spoken and, if you were to ask those from his village, he spent much of his time alone. When asked why, he simply said he was listening. The other man spent much of his time talking with the other people in his village, young and old, asking their ideas, their thoughts of the world, their experience of its profound mysteries.

As they set out on their journey together, each followed the behavior which had come to characterize their lives – the one mostly silent, observant of all that went on around him, listening and watching, admiring the sights around him; the other was a constant flow of questions – he asked the wind, the rain, the sun and stars, he spoke to the earth and shouted to the animals and birds almost without end seeking answers to his questions. Many days they journeyed together each in their own way.

The one traveler climbed to the top of the mountains – surely here he would find the truth, from the highest vantage point of life. He shouted to the wind and called upon the thunder. “What can you tell me?” he said. The other traveler lay down on the ground at the base of the mountain fascinated by the myriad of sounds which emanated from its very roots, carefully watching all the creatures which inhabited its slopes in their comings and goings. The one dove into the depths of the sea while the other lay upon its shores admiring the pattern of the waves, taking note of the creatures coming and going from its edges.

As they persisted on their journey, day-upon-day and week-upon-week, the one grew more and more agitated; the other experienced a greater peace, a deeper sense of awe. Finally, as their journey came to an end, at the very crossway at which it had begun, they parted company making their way to their homes.

Coming each to their villages, the now frustrated and extremely moody one, when asked about the truths of the world, simply shouted, “Nothing can be known! The quiet and thoughtful person upon arriving home began to speak of all that he had seen and heard, sharing all the mysteries he had witnessed. He told story-upon-story, day and night as people came from far and near to hear what he had learned. So much had he learned that he is still sharing the story of it today.

There’s a song from many years back the chorus line of which says, simply,
Silence is golden, but my eyes still seeSilence is golden, golden, but my eyes still see

When I first became a follower of the Jesus way thirty years ago, there were few things in my life that distracted me from pursuing times of solitude and quiet with God. Silence – a place and time to listen, to be open to God’s moving in my life, to see with my spirit the direction of God’s leading – was not difficult to manage. My life was relatively unencumbered and the society in which I lived was relatively slow-paced. Life was uncluttered for me. In fact, in those days, apart from the garbage under my sink, in those days, the only clutter or pollution I was aware of, or which affected my life, was chemical and the annoying coke cans and Big Mac wrappers blowing around where I liked to huntind.

Today, on top of the very real pollution we see driving the “hot flashes” of a globally warmed environment, we contend with increasing amounts of light, noise, entertainment and techno-pollution. It’s everywhere. In a world driven by ever more sophisticated and profoundly influential media technology; in the face of the and the gods of the informed life and scientific advance it is difficult to avoid its assault. It’s intrusion into the privacy of our lives is virtually inescapable. Today, even our own minds and souls seldom afford us the opportunity of quiet, of silence and solitude today. Just ask someone what solitude is and they might say something like “A game show on TV” or, the place Superman went to escape the bad guys!! Close, but no cigar!

Few places on the planet allow us Superman’s escape, certainly not from the technology we have created and the new social demands it drives! This was made powerfully obvious to me at Urbana 2006. Approximately 25,000 people seated in the stadium home of the St. Louis Rams were asked to pull out their cell phones and flip them open simultaneously – then “reach out and touch someone with a message.” The glow from the screens of the thousands of phones was nearly bright enough to read by!!!

Not surprisingly, with all of this going on around us in all other areas of our lives, As a result, we can tend to seek God in the same way – in the rush of time and the collection of sights and sounds. And, And, ststrangely enough, God uses these things to get our attention. He speaks to us in the in the frenetic sounds of the music we listen to, Hip-Hop or punk artist, the 3 second flashes of visual media, the clipped language of the text message, and the avalanche of unsolicited demands for our thought and time in the messages that burying our in-boxes, and overwhelming our minds. All too often these are messages from other voices which have the pretense of an interest in our lives but which satisfy the need for real relationship very little, if at all. Many of the messages in our in-boxes quite simply over-promise and under-deliver. The light shows and concerts of sound which God tends toward differ. God’s photonic display is more likely to be from a burning bush or constellation of stars, from a guiding star followed at a distance. God’s jam session is more likely to resemble peals of thunder or the rush of the wind, than the collapsed din of electronic traffic jams!!

In contrast to the over-promised and under-delivered messages of the techno-world, there are the words of assurance and hope found in the still and the small voice of God heard in the inner spaces of our lives. Instead of the impossibly bright future offered by successive spam scams, there is the golden ray of Christ’s hope in the examined life. In a world gone which can easily appear to have gone mad, this is Good News. This is the voice the scriptures encourage us to seek for assurance, and comfort, for direction and affirmation – a voice difficult to hear in the crush of noise and the intensity of light that so very often surrounds us.

It may not seem like much of a comparison to the low-tech world of the writers of scripture but, they also wrestled with distraction. They found the need for a place of peace and quiet in which to contemplate what was truly important. Note what the writer says in the 131st Psalm,

O Lord, my heart is not lifted up,
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.

But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.

Peace and quiet attend him like a child lying in his mothers arms, secure, safe, cared-for – at peace.

When God spoke to the first followers of the Jesus Way, saying we should buy gold from him in what we now call the book of Revelation, perhaps this is one of the things he meant – buy the gold of a life which is, on occasion, perhaps even regularly, lived in silence, quieted before God – so that we might know we are secure and might truly hear the wind as God’s Spirit blows through the world.

The most fruitful times of my relationship with God have been like – silent and reflective – where I actually hear. For though he has used media to get my attention – sounds and lights all around – God has spoken most powerfully and meaningfully in the quiet of my mind and heart as I have waited for the still, small voice to speak. I have found that the whisper of God is unclear, if audible at all, in the surging of electric light and amplified sound and I do not take the time to listen.

Some years back as I was recertifying for my pilots license and needed to have a full medical including an audiogram. The technician concluded the audio testing and reported that I had above average hearing in all frequency ranges tested for. Elated with the news, I went home to tell my wife, Bev. She needed to know that her observation I frequently fid not hear her was obviously wrong. Without skipping a beat, she deflated my bubble, noting, “Hearing is not listening!!" So it is with God. Hearing God through electronic media, through its frequently garbled sounds and sights, is not at all equivalent to listening to what God is saying. Neither is reading the Word of God the same as practicing the presence of God in our lives through implementing its teachings, letting it sink into the essence of our being.

The sound byte rush of our world – a world in which I can research the electronic Word of God in a heartbeat yet not necessarily meditate on its truth in any depth in the quiet of my heart – can make it difficult for me to truly appreciate God’s voice as God speaks strength to my body and soul. The chaos of the undiscipled life can lie all around me as a result.

How can I prevail when even the architecture of our buildings and lives accommodates – no, seems to require – amplified sound, bright, flashing light stiff-necked observation of some photonic display so that I will know what to do? How can I cultivate the inner life of quiet, hearing the whole of the world in a way which elevates God’s creativity not our re-creativity? How, in a world which seems to shun any opportunity for the cultivation of solitude and private, inner serenity? Buildings, once designed for human conversation and interaction, for the practice of the presence of God in the quiet notes of the human voice are now more likely to require electronic intermediation just so that we can hear one another.

So, how do we encourage the filling of the inner person – the “God-shaped vacuum” of Pascal – with the presence of God when God speaks so quietly and our world is so loud; when the amplified world regularly make the nervous system a jangle of frayed edges, our tempers short, and our attention spans shorter! How do we press through?

For me, the sweat lodge – a tradition of prayer and fasting, of listening and seeking for many of our peoples in the Native North American community – has become a most powerful time of the re-appropriation of quiet and solitude in my life. In this place of cultural tradition, I listen and wait in anticipation for the still small voice of my Creator, Jesus Christ. Even in its darkened interior where my physical eyes serve little useful purpose, it is the one place where I can say with the author of the song,
Silence is golden, but my eyes still seeSilence is golden, golden, but my eyes still see

Monday, February 12, 2007

A Sweet Faith...

"I think God is defragging and rebooting the church. I think what he is doing is he is getting us back to the original operating system of Christianity." Len Sweet

Sweet says that, "The old model of church is killing the West. The stale model is "attractional, propositional and colonial." We must become missional, relational and incarnational according to Sweet.

"This culture understands that everybody knows they've been created for a mission. It's not a mission project. Do you hear the difference? Throughout your whole life, you're in it. It's a pilgrimage. It's a journey."

"What is truth?

"Truth is Jesus. This is the uniqueness of Christianity in all of the religions of the world. Every other religion defines truth in propositional terms." Len Sweet

Jesus was the "only one who had the chutzpah to announce to the whole world 'I am the way.' Truth is a relationship."

In order to cultivate the ability to help people recognize the difference between propositional teachings and relational truth, the church will have to come from a different mindset for teaching and living, according to Sweet.

When he attended seminary, Sweet said he learned that "preaching is making the Scriptures come alive." Now, he speaks of believing the complete opposite -- Christians must come alive to the Scriptures!

"I'm not 360 degrees from there- I'm at 180 degrees. The complete opposite. The problem is not with the Word; the problem is with us."

“I am the way, the truth, and the life.” Jesus of Nazareth

Sunday, February 11, 2007

What's Missing For You?

Have you ever been a part of a community of followers of Christ who are experiencing the transforming power of the Spirit of God?

We aren't interested in attracting a crowd at CoHo. But we are passionate about genuine transformation and about helping people to experience the reality of God in their lives.

We believe that this is the core message of Jesus. Jesus wanted us to know that the actual experience of His love in our lives is available to anyone who follows Him.

Do you want to be a part of a community where people are being transformed by the power of God?

If this is the cry of your own heart, you may find Community of Hope to be just the thing your heart is longing for. Will you join us in reaching out to a world that is desperate for true transformation?

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Philippians 2:1-8
If you've gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don't push your way to the front; don't sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don't be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn't claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion.

Friday, February 09, 2007

1 Peter 1:9-10
But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God's instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

I love Don...

What a tragedy to experience this kind of grief and not learn from it. God gives us courage to walk toward renewal. It is not always fun. It is hard work and worth every ounce of sweat, each drop of blood, each emotion admitted, every honest word spoken or written, and every good friend we encounter. No one can do this alone. Joy comes in the mourning and in the morning as the Son rises.

John 13:34-35
"Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other."

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

We are the church

"We do not go to church, as we are the Ekklesia, wherever we happen to meet, in a house or anywhere else. The house ekklesia is not a series of meetings in someone's house on a particular day, at a certain time, led by a particular leader. It is a household of God consisting of twenty-four-hours-a-day and seven-days-a-week relationships." Victor Choudhrie

"I do not trust spectacular things. Give me the seed growing secretly every time." Roland Allen

"No other people group is so uniquely positioned for global missions as First Nations people are today. Native men and women who follow the Jesus Way and are skilled traditional drummers, singers, and dancers, to communicate the love of the Father with audiences worldwide." Richard Twiss, Wiconi International

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Movements of Grace

"Grace is a gift that can only be felt when you are open enough to accept it." Joan of Arcadia
On Sunday we had three babies dedicated and eight baptisms! It was a really beautiful family time for CoHo. God's presence was so clearly evident, and His hand was all over the people who were baptized. What a great day we had together.

What does a church do when God shows up? Does everybody recognize it?
"Christians talk urgently about getting God back into government. Others talk about the need to get God back in public schools. What I’m most concerned about is getting God back into our churches." Steve Gaines
Gaines' book call, When God Comes to Church, gives a brief review on how God has moved in past years, from the First Great Awakening of the early 1700s to the Jesus Movement of the 1970s. It also highlights from Scripture how God revealed Himself to Moses, Jacob, David and the New Testament church.
"What happened back then tells me that there has to be more to the Christian life and to the ministry of a local church than most of us are experiencing. They didn’t have nice carpet. They didn’t have hand-polished pews…. The only ‘draw’ you’ve got is the Savior. And guess what - that’s enough."
Gaines suggests that churches need to focus more on prayer.

"Where prayer becomes the focus of a church, God’s power falls. Every church needs to be aggressive in prayer. (We also need to be spontaneous and receptive to the Spirit). I tell my congregation, ‘Don’t even think about putting a roast in the oven on Sunday morning. If you do, your chances of winding up with an Old Testament ‘burnt offering’ are good.’"
Do you expect God to show up? Did He ever leave? Is He with you at this very moment?

“I want a church where at least some things can be explained only by the presence of God.”

Ephesians 3:14-21
My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you'll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Is that really you God? Part IV:

The PAPA Prayer

How many of us would like a closer relationship with God than we have right now?

How many of you have ever felt that it seems as though God is distant or removed from your situation?

Me-centered prayer: "All I ask of life is a constant and exaggerated sense of my own importance." Ashleigh Brilliant

Relational prayer: "We never listen when we are eager to speak." Luise von Francois

These kind of ideas are not going to attract those who want a spiritual Tupperware party.

P - Present yourself to God. presenting

A - Attend to how you are thinking of God. attending

P - Purge yourself of anything that blocks your relationship with God. purging

AApproach God as the ‘first thing’ in your life. approaching

P - Present yourself to God. Your emotional bottle. Stop trying to be who you think you should be and just tell God about where you are. Get in tune with whatever is going on inside of you.

A - Attend to how you are thinking of God. Never pretend, don’t try to convince yourself you’re seeing something you’re not. If God feels distant, tell God that.

P - Purge yourself of anything that blocks your relationship with God.

“No man stands at the Grand Canyon and says, ‘Aren’t I something?’ “ John Piper

When we stand before God we experience being real, yet are humbled to be in His presence. In the Bible people regularly fell on their face before God. In these quiet moments we become convicted, or are better able to see that our actions and behaviors are from exemplary.

Psalm 26:2
Test me, O LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind;

Psalm 139:23-24
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

A – Approach God as the ‘first thing’ in your life. The first three parts of the prayer free us to tell God that we really do want Him to be the first thing in our life. Everything else is a second thing.

We relate well with God when we do the four things that build any relationship:

we get real about who we are with someone we trust;

we show genuine interest in who that person is;

we own up to whatever we do that damages the relationship;

and honor the relationship with the person as an unrivaled priority.

Get to know God better” paradigm
Assumption 1
Prayer is more about hearing God than about Him hearing us. We’re the audience.

Get things from God’ paradigm
Assumption 1
Prayer is an opportunity to get God to hear our requests. He’s our audience.

Assumption 2 “Get to know God better” paradigm
Real prayer is never dull. We aren’t praying unless prayer is the most vital thing we do, whether we receive what we ask for or not.

Assumption 2 “Get things from God’ paradigm
Excitement in prayer depends on receiving what we ask for, or at least on the hope that we will.

Assumption 3 “Get to know God better” paradigm
Prayer is the God-appointed means for us to come to know Him as Papa.

Assumption 3 “Get things from God’ paradigm
Prayer is the God-appointed means for us to receive what we need in order to feel satisfaction and fulfillment.

Assumption 4 “Get to know God better” paradigm
Prayer can become the conversation you have longed to have with your earthly father. As that happens, your ‘father wounds’ are healed.

Assumption 4 “Get things from God’ paradigm
Prayer consists of asking things from God in a way that release Him to treat us like children who are entitled to their inheritance.

Assumption 5 “Get to know God better” paradigm
Power in petitionary prayer depends on intimacy in relational prayer. Know God a little, and experience little power in petition. Know God a lot and experience great power in petition.

Assumption 5 “Get things from God’ paradigm
Power in petitionary prayer depends on visible passion, declared faith, length of prayer, number pf prayers, and perhaps posture.

Assumption 6 “Get to know God better” paradigm
Petitioning God without first relating to Him transforms legitimate desire into entitled demands.

Assumption 6 “Get things from God’ paradigm
Prayer is our way of holding God to His promises. We have a right to approach God, knowing we are entitled to what He has promised.

Assumption 7 “Get to know God better” paradigm
Prayer is not a technique for persuading a reluctant God to give us what we want. It is our primary opportunity to get acquainted with God in this life before we see Him in the next.

Assumption 7 “Get things from God’ paradigm
Prayer is a method for securing blessings now that we will receive in full measure later.

Assumption 8 “Get to know God better” paradigm
Knowing God changes what we most want in life, and that changes what we most fervently request.

Assumption 8 “Get things from God’ paradigm
God grants the desires of our hearts. Therefore, we should discern what we believe would bring us the most satisfaction, and ask for that.

Many people think that Jesus came to earth to die on the cross, but that was just part of his mission. His overall mission was to bring the reality of God’s presence and power to earth and to invite us to join him in making things down here run the way they do up there. John Ortberg

Matthew 11:28
Come if you're thirsty or weak or if you carry a heavy burden. Come if you’re jumping for joy or if you’re just beginning life’s journey. Come if you’re alone or with a community of friends. Come as you are. Come and pray.

Present yourself to God
“God, I’m feeling excited about the possibility of knowing You better.”

Attend to how you are thinking of God
“I see You as more eager to be close to me than I am to be close to You. I love that. It scares me.

Purge yourself of anything that blocks your relationship with God
“But the desire to change some things in my life is really strong. I know that’s okay. But I think it’s stronger right now than my desire to know You better. And that’s not okay. I don’t know how to change that.”

Approach God as the ‘first thing’ in your life
“So I come to You just as I am. I don’t know what else to do. But I believe You’ll do the work and You’ll show me my part. I want to know You more than I want anything else.”

The problem with describing prayer as speaking to God is that it implies we are still in control. But in listening, we let go. People are tired of hearing about "Ten Steps that Will Change Your Life." Richard Foster
(Thanks to Larry Crabb and his great book, The Papa Prayer)

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Friday, February 02, 2007

A Life of prayer...

Thursday, February 01, 2007

God is closer than you think

There is no event so commonplace but that God is present within it, always hiddenly, always leaving you room to recognize him or not to recognize him, but all the more fascinatingly because of that, all the more compellingly and hauntingly.

Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace. Frederick Beuchner

Matthew 4:4
Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.' "