…we give God world-class lip service but we follow the whims of our minds and hearts. We call on God only when we have to - when our plans have crashed and burned, when we are desperate, when we feel empty and hopeless, when even our best efforts are not good enough…we read about the promises of God, but don’t experience their fulfillment. We participate in the institutionalized church, but find it less meaningful and satisfying than expected. We read the Bible, but generally lack a true understanding of the text, miss its richness, and misinterpret its counsel. We vacillate between the letter and the spirit of the Law, and receive the hope of neither. We take solace in being religious but overlook the value of true spirituality.
Are You Thirsty?
“Just read your Bible, pray, go to church, find a good ministry to be involved in and everything will get better.”
How many times have you heard something like this when you experience a hurt in your life?
This has become a Christian battle cry for moving past hard times and getting “back on track”. Not only is this a false narrative, it’s a dangerous pitfall.
Do I question the power of God’s word, of fellowship, of prayer?
But I also think that there are deeper issues in our lives that we can’t pray away, read away, or church away. Dr. Larry Crabb offers this insight in his book Inside Out, “when relief of the inevitable pain of living in a fallen world becomes our priority, at that moment we leave the path toward pursuing God.”
Our world has convinced us that unless we have it all together we are failures. But Jesus offers a different perspective, a true narrative; “…in this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33), “I will show him how much he must suffer for my name” (Acts 9:16), “Everyone who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim 3:12). None of these passages tell me that Christians should “have it all together”, instead they say to me that life is going to be hard, that I am going to suffer, that pain is part of the journey.
There is more to the Christian life, however, than handling the pains of this world until we get to heaven. Crabb says it this way: “Until we acknowledge painful disappointment in our circumstances and relationships (particularly the latter), we will not pursue Christ with the passion of deep thirst. Or, to put it more simply, we rarely learn to meaningfully depend on God when our lives are comfortable. “(92)
God promises to fulfill the desires of our hearts but no one knows our hearts better than God.
Do we desire that promotion?
Do we desire our parents to stay together?
Do we desire for our sick child to live?
Of course we do and these are all valid desires but there are deeper desires that our souls are thirsting for that we often don’t even realize. Our deepest ingrained desire to is to experience and reciprocate God’s love, that’s why He created us in the first place. God doesn’t promise us comfort in the now he offers us the peace of knowing that even though life is hard, even though we hurt, even though we think we need this or that, He is there and He loves us deeply. We can count on God to provide all that’s necessary to achieve His purpose in our life but that promise does not guarantee pain-free living. It does guarantee a deeper walk with God and a more acute awareness of His love for us.
When life gets hard we tend to seek out joy in all of our relationships except the one with God (which is the only relationship that can offer true joy). In spite of life’s pain, it is possible to remain whole. Life can deal us some pretty rough hands but we can never be robbed us of God’s love, which at the core is what we long for more than anything. So drink from the streams of living water and rest in God’s love whether life is smooth or rough and allow the pains of life not to debilitate you but to drive you even closer to God.
“Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
It is of utmost importance that we keep a constant and intimate link between the specifically religious dimensions and the arena of everyday life… This bridge is also seen in the Reformation principle of “the priesthood of all believers.” To be sure this principle teaches us that “the plowboy and milkmaid” can do priestly work. But even more profoundly it teaches us that the plowboy, in his plowing, the the milkmaid, in her milking, are in fact doing priestly work.
How To Be a Super-Hero (Kind of)
Have you ever wanted to be a super hero?
I think every person, at some point in time, watches a Batman movie or reads a Superman comic, or sees the Spider-Man float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and thinks, “If I had super powers (or an incredible amount of money like Bruce Wayne) I would use it to defeat evil too…”
Well, I have good news…
Monday during our church’s prayer group we practiced the prayer style knows as lectio divina or praying the scriptures. The text we prayed was Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Jesus left us power…
Power for the purpose of witnessing…
The same walking on water, water to wine, healing the sick, demon driving, dead raising, 5,000 people power that was seen when he walked this earth.
So maybe sweet man tights like Captain America’s are out of the question, but who cares? We will be able to use God’s power to bring God glory and fight the power of evil in this world.
So why don’t we see this more today?
As I read the story of St. Francis of Assisi it became pretty clear to me, you see St. Francis had this power, he healed the blind, he fed the hungry, he performed miraculous works in the name of God, but he wasn’t distracted.
Francis spent every waking moment in constant communion with the Holy Spirit. He was painstakingly aware of God’s presence, plan, and purpose at all times. He lived a deep life of devotion without worrying about what he was missing out on, he was too worried about what he’d miss if he didn’t have this deep walk with the Lord.
The power is there…
It’s available for us to tap into and use it for God’s glory…
Not to be the next Christian celebrity (even though I’d take Kirk Cameron’s gig!).
But it’s there for us to point to Him in more amazing ways every day.
But in order to tap into this power we have to push aside the distractions. We have to be so focused on God that nothing can take our minds off of Him.
I’m not there yet…
I wish I were…
But I’m trying…
What might your life look like if you were constantly in tune with the Holy Spirit? If TV shows, and sporting events, and shopping, and Facebook, and Twitter, and (fill in the blank), had no impact on your awareness of God and his plan and purpose for you in every moment of every day?
I think so.
So that’s my prayer, that I can begin to remove distractions from my life. Maybe that means giving up some things that I don’t really want to give up. It definitely means redefining my priorities. I know it won’t be easy but I know it will be worth it.
There is a power offered to us for the sake of being witnesses for Christ, the challenge is this…
What kind of witness do you want to be?
Are you okay with simply witnessing out of your current strength or are you ready for the power of God to drive everything you do?
“Power is not an end in itself, it was never intended to be. Healthy spiritual power is, of necessity, tied to spiritual growth. And it is right here, at the linkage between spiritual power and spiritual growth, that we see how intimately connected are the Charismatic and the Holiness Traditions. That interconnection is exactly what we would expect. These two traditions should work hand-in-glove and should fuel each other.”
-Richard Foster (Streams of Living Water)
We are glad enough for God to remove an irritating behavior from our personality (a sour disposition, for example), or a destructive addiction (like alcoholism), but it is a very different thing for him begin restructuring our inner affections.
-Richard Foster from Streams of Living Water
My toes sure hurt after reading this…
As a matter of fact my whole foot is starting to bruise…
Why is it that we are comfortable with God removing irritable characteristics from our personalities so we can act less like Adam Sandler from Billy Madison and act more like Adam Sandler from Spanglish (not nearly as funny but people can put up with us for longer periods of time) but when God starts asking for the hard stuff like our time or money, or worse yet, our plans for the future we pull out the “He loves me right where I am” card faster than Happy pulled out his driver on a par 5 (you like how I kept with the Adam Sandler theme there?)
He does love us right where we are…but
He loves us way too much to leave us there (I stole that from someone I just can’t remember who)
This quote and the book it came from are challenging me in ways I haven’t been challenged in a long time and that’s a good thing. My prayer is that when God asks me for the “good stuff” in my life that I can hand it over with joy.
What’s challenging you lately?
I Love Technology…
but not as much as you, you see…but I still love technology…always and forever…
Kip Dynamite was onto something when he uttered those words at his wedding to Lafawnduh in the movie Napoleon Dynamite.
Truth be told, I’m a technology nut too, maybe not to the level of Kipland (I like to use his full name), but my passion to always know what the newest and best form of technology is has led me to discover some great tools that you can use in your everyday life.
In light of still being on the New Year’s resolution high (barely). I am listing the top 4 apps to help you keep your resolutions. You might be asking why 4? Why not 5? Because this is my blog and that’s what I wanna do. 5’s been done. So here we go, the top 4 apps to help keep your resolutions in 2012.
4. Facebook (free)- What could I possibly tell you about Facebook that you don’t already know? And what could Facebook do to help you keep a resolution? Well…I can’t tell you anything new about Facebook but I can say with confidence that it can be an incredible tool for keeping your resolutions, whatever they might be. The key word is accountability; find a friend or number of friends with similar resolutions and then blow each others timelines up with words of encouragement and reports of your progress. It’s hardly news to say that doing something in groups is always easier than traveling down that road alone. If you live in a rural area like me, this can be a huge help, my closes neighbor that actually likes to run lives 20+ miles away but he can still hit me up on FB to remind me that I haven’t put my miles in today. Let Facebook work for you this year, let ‘s be honest you’re already on it anyway!
3. My Fitness Pal (free)- Is your resolution to fight the age old battle of the bulge? Maybe you want to lose 5 pounds?…or 50? Whatever the case this app is a gem when it comes to keeping track of your calories, exercise, and fitness progress over a period of time. The greatest part of this app to me is that it is groomed to your personal goals. You set up your profile along with target weight, and desired loss per week, and the app does the rest. Almost everything I’ve eaten since starting this program is preloaded into food data bank and if it’s not MFP makes it easy to load in the nutrition of any food and store it for future use. This program really can help you stay on track to reaching your fitness goals for 2012.
2. Debtbuster ($0.99)- When your wallet’s empty and your accounts are dry who you gonna call? I have to sing some form of the Ghostbuster theme song every time I come across any product or service ending in buster…I think it’s a law in some states. But silliness aside, this app means business. It helps you track your current outstanding debt against your income and then helps create a budget for you so that you can start to climb your way out of the pit of death…I mean debt. If you feel like Gandalf falling down a never ending chasm while fighting off the Balrog of debt then this app is for you. On a sunnier note, this app also includes a cute little virtual balloon that grows and changes colors as you pay down your debts, finally paying bills is fun…sort of…
1. You Version (free)- Like many Christians my top resolution this year is to read more scripture. The You Version app makes this as easy as its ever been. They have hundreds of reading plans for you to choose from and once you set up a profile you can set reminders, read from different translations, even have the passages read to you via the audible versions of several translations (I haven’t found one that sounds like mom yet but if I do…BEDTIME STORY!!!). The best thing about this app is everything about this app. I use it everyday, whether I’m reading for personal devotion time, studying scripture for Sunday’s message, or reading aloud to my congregation this app is my go to Bible for any occasion. It’s so user friendly that my 10 year old son uses it on his iPod Touch and has no problem navigating it. This is a must have for anyone who wants to make the Word of God a priority in their life. (I would also recommend reading this post for hints to keeping your New Year’s reading plan on track)
So there you have it, my top 4 apps to help you keep your resolutions in 2012.
You want to be holy?
You want a deeper faith?
Then you have to give God time and not just intend to.
God is so consistent to give me words through scripture and Godly influence that coincides with where I am. He keeps giving me enough faith to understand the fact that holiness is the result of responding to God’s patience with me, by being equally patient in Him. I needed this reminder today from God, through A.W. Tozer, who continues to influence me and challenge my walk with God. Thank you Lord.
My friend and the pastor of Haviland Friends Church in Haviland KS posted this today, what a wonderful reminder for us all…
And We’re Off…
Today I decided to relaunch my blog, complete with new name and everything. I still plan to write about things that are important to me but I want this to be enjoyable to me and my readers. I didn’t have much fun writing before, probably because I was so busy trying to sound smart that it took the pleasure out of it. It was also really boring to read.
Sorry about that…
In 2012 one of my goals is to write more, my hope is to post at least once a week.
I really do love to write and I hope you enjoy reading what I write.