Wednesday, May 22, 2019

How do I Pray?

I was challenged this morning to think about how I pray?  Samuel Chadwick said, "Prayer is not a collection of balanced phrases, it is the pouring of the soul."  Often I find myself tempering my prayers as if I cannot boldly ask God to work how I want, need or desire Him to do.  As I contemplated my own prayers and how I approach God I thought about the persistence of my kids.  If you have kids you know what I am talking about.  If they want something they do not stop asking for it until it is given.  Even more how much does God, who loves us with an abounding love, desire for us to persist in sharing our heart and needs and desires with Him?  As Samuel Chadwick went on to say, "What is love if it is not fiery?"  What is it that you boldly need to ask God for?  Do not shy away.  Be bold, persistent and know that God, who loves you so much He sent His Son to die for you will give you what you need.  Be fiery in your prayers!

Monday, February 11, 2019

A Thought on Marriage...and life

I was listening to a podcast recently where Chuck Swindoll said, "Live in such a way that when you die your spouse mourns your loss more than anything or anyone else."  That was a powerful thought for me.  Think about it.  What/Who will mourn the most when you die?  Maybe it is your spouse, and if so, that is a good thing, but maybe it is your boss at work, or your golf clubs, or your favorite football team?  What/who will mourn the most when you die?
I shared the quote that day with two men and they had very different reactions.  One said, "I sure hope that is true", indicating that it was absurd for that to not happen, and the other responded with a more sobering comment, "Wow, I wonder if that is true?"
The quote is a challenge to all of us to invest most significantly in the things that should matter the most.  Maybe for you that is your marriage- because you are married, but maybe you are not married.  Whichever it is, make sure that you are living your life on point, investing in the things that matter and not just the things that scream for your attention.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Being Poured Out- 2 Timothy 3:10-4:8

We recently looked at this passage in Sandhurst University and it has challenged me.  Man, this passage is rich with great truths for how we should live our life.  I imagine I could take several weeks to preach this passage and we would just begin to scratch the depth of it.   I’m going to do my best to summarize a few thoughts here though.
 Paul is writing to Timothy and describing the realities of his life as he “offered himself as a living sacrifice (Rom 12:1).  Paul then goes on to tell Timothy to do the same, and he says it very matter of factly, as if there were no serious consideration for living any other way.  But here is what I know, there is another way to live, a much easier way to live, it is the way of living for myself.  It can be called Hedonism.  Hedonism is the pursuit of pleasure (my pleasure).  Most of the world lives this way.

Here is what we see in this passage, Paul spent the entirety of his saved life “being poured out”…for the sake of others, and now it is “time for him to depart.”  Are you OK with that?  Are you OK with the idea that we are called to do the same?   To live for Christ (not self) and then die?   Did you even catch the reality of that in the passage?  What does it mean to be poured out?  The passage gives us many ideas, here is a list of some of what I see those who live poured out are like.  They are:
-        Thoroughly equipped for every good work God calls us to do.  This means we are constantly growing in our knowledge and ability.  Stagnation cannot be a part of our life.
-       We are ready, at a moment’s notice to:
o   Preach the word
o   Correct bad teaching
o   Rebuke bad (ungodly) teachers
o   Encourage in the faith, with patience and instruction, all people
o   Keep our head (stay emotionally healthy)
o   Endure hardship for the sake of the Gospel
o    Do the work of the evangelist (tell others of Christs work in your life)
o   Discharge all of the duties of our ministry (faithfully execute what God has called us to do)

I am having to ask myself if I am OK with living my life this way.  To be honest this is not the first time I have had to do this.  It is something I have routinely asked myself.  It is not easy, after all Paul describes it as being ‘poured out’.  Think about that analogy for a moment.  I/You am a drink that never ceases from being poured.  Think of the exhaustion that comes from that type of life!  It is emotional, physical and spiritual exhaustion all wrapped into one life.  But that is our calling.
There are two things I want you to see from this BLOG.
1.      If you are a Christian you are called to live your life “poured out” Please pray that God would give you a true vision for what it means to live a life that is poured out.  I am afraid far too often we have a very small view of what it means to be poured out.  It is stretching, it is hard, and then you die.  Sorry, but that is it.  But notice Paul was not in the least bit concerned about this reality. In fact, he was quite excited.  He says in verse 7-8, “I have done this and now I have in store for me greater things than could ever be on this earth.” (Reeves version) “God, help me know your sacrifice so deeply that I consider offering myself back to you the least of what I can do and give me the spiritual depth to have an accurate view of what it means to be poured out, and give me the strength to do it faithfully.  Amen.”

2.     We cannot seek to be poured out for the approval of others, but we must be poured out because we have in view what God has done for us.  I recall Howard Hendricks, a great professor of Dallas Seminary saying, “Men if you do not like the smell of sheep then get out of the pasture!”  Guess what, you stink!  Guess what else, I stink! No minister, and you are one, can continue to serve if their service is for the person they are serving.  Never will the one being served be as grateful, responsive or appreciative as the effort they require.  The times I struggle the most with my “profession” is when I get this backwards and start working for the praise of men and not God.  When I counsel that couple so they will have a restored marriage or speak highly of me, or when I go out of my way to meet a man early in the morning so he will affirm me or grow closer to God.  When I do it for those reasons, which may be noble, I stop wanting to be poured out, but when I do it for Christ because I have in view what He has done for me then I can go on and on and on just like the energizer bunny.  God, help me to fix my eyes on You, the author and perfector of my faith.  God help me not to have motives other than to offer myself to You because of what You have done for me.  Protect me from burn out and being torn down by being continually poured out.  Give me the strength and stamina to do this.  In the name of Jesus Amen.
I hope you will catch the vision that this is your calling also and I hope you will pray these prayers with me and together we can receive the award on that day.

Monday, January 7, 2019

The Elusiveness of Contentment

I was listening to a series on Rightnow Media this week titled “Balanced”.  The series featured Andy Stanley teaching around the subject of finances and he said something that I thought was very significant. 

It is not how much or little that you have that controls your misery factor.  It is an open hand or closed hand that controls it.” -  Andy Stanley

Do you struggle with contentment?  Have you bought the lie that if you had that next elusive thing you would finally be content?  Maybe for you it is a bigger house, nicer car, better health, or a better relationship with a loved one.  Whatever it is, it is important to know that contentment does not come through stuff- even good stuff!  Contentment is learned and it is learned through an intimate, personal walk with the Lord.  The apostle Paul said in Philippians 4:12,

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

How cool is that!  Contentment does not require a large bank account, awesome gadgets or perfect relationships.  We all know rich folks who are discontent and we know financially poor folks who live at peace.  Contentment is not tied to lots of stuff, contentment is tied to resting (trusting) in the Lord.  When we rest in the Lord, trust Him, we live with our hands open, just like Andy’s quote reminds us.  Sure, when we do that some of “our” stuff may fly away, but an open hand also allows God’s good gifts to come our way as well. 

Being content is not easy, especially in our materialistic infatuated society, but it is essential to living victoriously and it is great gain for us when we come to a place of contentment.

I am reminded of a quote I heard about John Rockefeller.  They asked him, the richest man of his time, “How much money does it take to make one happy?”  His response, “just one more dollar.”  How sad.  While the world recognizes that quote as inspirational, I read that, and I hope you do as well, as a great travesty.  John Rockefeller was summarizing accurately the elusiveness of life without Christ.

Contrast Rockefeller’s quote with the apostle Paul.  A few verses before verse twelve he gave us the key to contentment.  Philippians 4:4-8

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Paul outlines for us a simple to understand, but hard to implement pathway to contentment.
1.    Trust God.
2.    Be Thankful.
3.    Pray about what worries you.
4.    Contemplate what is excellent and praiseworthy.
May you and I both work hard to live this way.

How do I Pray?

I was challenged this morning to think about how I pray?  Samuel Chadwick said, "Prayer is not a collection of balanced phrases, it is ...