Reposted from Radical Mentoring
Years ago, a good friend really handed it to me. He said, “When I see someone running as hard as you run, I wonder who he’s trying to please.” My friend didn’t wonder, “Is he trying to please someone?” He knew that answer. The question was who?
Most of us start out trying to please our dads. For some of us, that’s the who we’re chasing for the rest of our lives, whether we realize it or not. For years, each time I’d get a promotion or a raise, I’d call my dad before I’d call my wife. It took me a long time to uncover what that said about the most significant who in my life.
But after surrendering to God and ‘replacing’ my earthly father with my Heavenly Father, things changed. I released my dad from all my expectations; from all the things I wished he had been and done. I forgave him and accepted him just as he was for the rest of his life. But before long, I was driving just as hard as a sold-out Christian as I was before. Why?
The reality is, some of us make God our work. We make Him something we do. The church loves it because we fill all the volunteer jobs; fill the seats and the fill the offering plates.
But we miss what God really wants . . .
Those things flow from the Holy Spirit living in our hearts when we stop being human doings and become human beings.
This week, spend time just being . . . with your family, with your friends, with yourself and especially with God.
Just as a soldier who takes on his day without having orders from his commanding officer could be in trouble, how then can we head out in the morning without first consulting Our King of Kings?
Instead of just charging out and doing, stop first to be with Him and ask, “Lord, what would you have me do today?”
Reposted from Radical Mentoring
We’re Christians because we have faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Which can seem sort of easy to have faith in since it happened 2,000 years ago and didn’t cause us any personal pain.
It’s much harder to have faith when God allows a man to get hit by a car while he’s biking with his son. Or when God tolerates an innocent child being sold into the sex trade. Or when God seemingly doesn’t answer cries for mercy for loved ones suffering debilitating pain.
There are two elements of God’s perspective missing from ours . . . two things we have to grasp and embrace by faith if we’re going to make sense of pain and tragedy in this world . . .
- The long view – God sees timelessly. We think right now; He thinks eternity. What looks like tragedy to us in the short-term is grace and mercy in the long. We must learn to trust in the long view and trust that God knows what he’s doing through pain and tragedy in our lives.
- The broad view – God is always doing multiple things in multiple lives at the same time. We have no idea how momentary pain or overwhelming tragedy are being used to challenge someone, to break down a hard heart, or to raise up compassion.
When Romans 8:28 starts with “We know” (that all things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them), it means we “know in advance.” We know God loves us and He’s in charge, so in faith, we surrender. We yield our demands for a certain outcome. We trust He knows what’s best, and is doing something good, even while we struggle through tough times.
In faith, we choose to rest in the fact that He’s using our pain and the suffering for His purposes. In faith, we choose to pray continuously and rely on His strength to get through whatever we’re going through. In faith, we choose to trust that after we do all we can, the outcome is up to Him. And in faith, we choose to believe God has a plan and will use our pain for good somewhere for someone.
That’s what faith is.
Scripture: Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. (Hebrews 11:1)
Reposted from Rethink
You don’t have to look far to hear or read something that claims to be biblical that clearly isn’t. The internet is full of wackos claiming some kind of truth but in reality are just spewing lies. Most of us can recognize those untruths from a mile away. However, there are a couple unbiblical statements that have gained traction and made it into our common beliefs.
In fact some of these statements get used by Christians everyday. Worse yet, people who decide to follow Jesus assume this is what he is offering.
Here are a few statements that are unbiblical that we need to rethink how we use.
God wants me to be happy
We elevate our value of happiness way above healthy levels in this country. Now being happy is not bad, but God’s first concern is not our happiness. God is more concerned with our holiness rather than our happiness.What does that mean? In other words, God is more concerned that we are in right relationship with him, rather than us being happy.
God is more concerned with our holiness rather than our happiness.
Craig Groeschel says it this way: “God doesn’t want you to be happy when it causes us to do something wrong or unwise.”
Too often we use our happiness as an excuse to get away with something we shouldn’t be messing with. God wants you to be in a right relationship with him. Will there be happiness there? Sure, at times. But as in any relationship there will be struggles and difficulties as well. Happiness should not be our top concern.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me
I know, I know, I can hear you now, “But I read this in the Bible, it has to be true!” It’s not the verse that is wrong, but it’s how it’s applied. This verse is not a hype up verse to gain strength to do some human feat. This verse is not about getting enough strength to win your game or gain that promotion. Not that those are bad things, but what’s going on here is much deeper.
We read this verse like this: “I can do all things, that I want, through Christ who strengthens me.” What Paul actually means is this: “I can do all things, that God leads me to, through Christ who strengthens me.” Do you hear the difference? Paul is saying that regardless of your life circumstances God will sustain you in what he has called you to.
The bottom line is I Am Not Good Enough but the God I serve is more than enough.
Everything happens for a reason
This phrase typically shows up following a tragedy. And I get it, we are trying to offer a little hope in a difficult situation. But I just can’t believe it. It doesn’t add up. And the Bible seems to paint a different picture. Just take a glance at the story of Job.
We are grasping at straws trying to make sense of a confusing and out of control world. The truth is, in this world crap happens. Life is hard. People die. Relationships end. Our health deteriorates. And God is not up there causing these things to happen.
I know I just painted a rather bleak picture. And while I do not believe everything happens for a reason, I do believe that God takes the mess of this world and gives it reason. I have seen it time and time again. God takes the worst of situations and turns it into something beautiful. God takes our mess and points us to the hope in Christ.
God won’t give me more than I can handle
I used to tell myself this whenever I was tempted or was just facing some difficulty. I’d tell myself this only to give into temptation a moment later or throw in the towel the next day. Most of my life has been more than I can handle.
Instead of thinking God won’t give us more than we can handle, we need to give up and let God help us. Listen, there will be things in your life that are more than you can handle, but it’s not more than God can handle. God doesn’t call us to a life that we are capable of living. He calls us to a life that we are only capable of living with Him; more this here.
In Matthew 11:28 Jesus says come to me when you are tired and burdened. Stop trying to do life on your own and let Jesus help you.
Here’s the bottom line of this article. Our beliefs need to be rooted in scripture. Much of what the church is known for is not biblical. We need to each examine our lives and our beliefs and see if it lines up the truth of the bible.
Reposted from The Life Project
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
This is a really neat little passage; there’s so much to see. As Paul closes out his letter, he reminds the people to be devoted to prayer, and while this may seem routine, after all, Apostles talk about prayer a lot, Paul here seems to bring it to life. I’m always struck by the idea of prayer being “watchful and thankful.” Maybe thankful, as in giving thanks isn’t so surprising, but watchful! How often do you hear someone say that we should be watchful in our prayers?
Watchful for what? Things you want God to give you, like little favors? “Oh yes, and Father please send me that new Lexus…” something like that? Somehow I doubt it. Maybe watchful for someone who needs intercession, maybe an opening for the Gospel, maybe something that is within God’s priority system− yes that seems more like the kind of “watchful” that Paul has in mind. He continues by asking for the people to pray for him, but again, not in the way we might expect. Notice, that even though he is in prison, he didn’t ask them to pray for his release, he asked them to pray that he might preach the Gospel effectively.
I don’t know about you, but that gets my attention every time! When Jesus taught us to pray in Matthew 6:5. He taught us to pray for God’s priorities. “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven…” Do we remember to do that? Are we watchful for specifics that fit into this category? Well, I can only speak for myself, but truth be told, I forget or overlook this more often than I’d care to admit. Paul seems to continue in this line of thinking when he advises us to be wise when speaking to “outsiders,” non-Christians. We are to be ready to make the most of every opportunity, to show them the love of Jesus Christ: Maybe we should pray for those opportunities. We are to speak to them “with grace, seasoned with salt…” Grace is often defined as “unmerited favor” meaning that we are to deal with them in love; more love than they might deserve.
I have a little secret for you to consider: Speaking to someone with grace is not telling them that they are wrong, even if they are. It doesn’t mean calling them names, or being critical of the way they live. Yes, there is a fair chance that they live as unbelievers, but guess what? They are unbelievers, and that may be just how they are supposed to live. Our job isn’t to correct the world, it is to save the world for Christ. This requires grace, not criticism. Salt is an interesting metaphor; I’ve heard many different explanations for this, so I’ll throw out my thoughts. When we season food with salt, we add it to bring out the full flavor of the ingredients, and when we speak with grace, seasoned with salt, we are sharing the full love of God who so loved the world that He sent His Son to die to save it. We need our speech to be so full of His grace, that nobody hears the slightest little bit of condemnation come from our lips!
So, when you put this all together, maybe I should remember to pray that God will bring me opportunities, and give me the words to share, so that some may be saved. What do you think; do you need to join me in praying this way? If not, I’d love to hear why that is.
Reposted fromRadical Mentoring
Walk into a dark room and flip the light switch. Darkness disappears, replaced by light. In fact, darkness isn’t really a ‘thing’ in and of itself. Just something that happens when there’s no light.
Genesis 1:4 recounts the creation of light . . . “And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.” Sometimes, we think of someone as bright. Every now and then, we’ll run into a Jesus-follower whose spirit shines. In church world, we want people to plug in. I guess it’s easy to compare spirituality to electricity because both are invisible and somewhat hard to understand.
The reality is that some people seem to be ‘15-watt’ people, others are ‘60-watt,’ while a few seem to glow naturally like ‘100-watt’ bulbs. If that happens to be you, you’re going to inevitably attract people (and maybe a few moths!). But what if you’re a ‘15-watt’ person? Or ‘30-watt’? Maybe you’re diligent about your faith walk but kind of private and quiet. Should you aspire to more light? And for what purpose?
I see three reasons we should aspire to have higher ‘wattage’ . . .
- Our personal peace deepens– When the Holy Spirit shines brightly within us, we’re more confident. When we trust God with outcomes, we deal better with our circumstances and we’re affirmed that Jesus is real and He’s right here with us and for us.
- Our influence grows – When we go public with our faith in Christ, others watch our lives in a special way. The cynics are waiting for us to fail so their lack of faith can be confirmed. The doubters will pay attention because our lives will enter into their decision to follow Jesus or not. And true believers will want to celebrate our faithfulness; they’re encouraged by our ‘bright light.’
- Our sin becomes more apparent – It is so easy to be dumbed down by the world, the flesh and the devil. “Hey, I know I’m not the best Christian in the world, but I’m not the worst either.” When our wattage is higher, we’re more sensitive to the sin that tempts us . . . our conscience quickens, and we’re more apt to turn away from bad stuff and ask forgiveness, both from God and from each other.
So how can we increase our wattage?
Through prayer. For over two years, I’ve told people about the strength and confidence I felt going in for my lung transplant. It was supernatural! I truly believe James 5:16 which says, “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective,” whether that prayer comes from you, a few or a multitude. I’m convinced the more people who pray and the more fervent the prayer, the higher the wattage of the person prayed for.
Let’s pray for each other in 2018, but don’t forget to pray for yourself. Ask God to raise your wattage for your good, the good of those around you, and for His glory.
Scripture: Once again, Jesus spoke to the people and said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
Reposted from The Word Among Us
Of all the kinds of healing, physical healing is perhaps the hardest for us to really believe in; it is far easier to believe that prayer can lead to repentance or can change a person psychologically.
Yet real physical healings take place regularly in the prayer groups I know. Often, a dozen or more occur at conferences when we take the time to pray for the sick.
So if you have the faith that the Lord still heals people as he did two thousand years ago, launch out and learn to pray for the sick. For, although physical healing may stretch your faith (have you ever prayed for a blind person?), it is also the simplest kind of prayer.
The Confidence to Launch Out. To pray for the first time requires courage. I used to feel very foolish, as if I were pretending to be someone special when I knew I was just an ordinary person. Who was I to pretend to be a great healer, to act like Christ? All this was, of course, merely false humility since, as we know, Christ himself instructed his followers to pray for the sick. Sometimes healing requires more courage than faith.
What a joy when we find that God really answers our prayers and heals the people we love! The praise of God spontaneously rises from our hearts. If you have confidence that Jesus might use your prayers to heal the sick, then there are just a few simple steps to learn. They are easy enough to remember; we do not need a graduate degree to learn to pray for physical healing.
I have missionary friends who are teaching the poor people of the barrios of Latin America to pray for the sick, and they report that about eighty percent of these unlettered people are healed or notably improved. There is no one method or technique that always produces results; God wants us to depend on him—not upon a technique. But there are some simple steps that flow out of the very nature of prayer for healing, and these I want to share with you.
Listening. The first step is always to listen in order to find out what to pray for. Just as the first step for a doctor when he meets a patient is to find out what to treat, so we need to find out what we are meant to pray for. A doctor is looking for a right diagnosis. In prayer for healing, we are looking for the right discernment.
We are really listening to two things: to the person who asks for prayer and tells us what seems to be wrong; and to God, who from time to time shares with us the true diagnosis whenever the person isn’t sure what is wrong.
When we listen in this way, the Spirit comes to enlighten us when we are in the dark about what to pray for. To some people this special knowledge seems to come in a very special way in the form of definite mental images or verbal impressions. To many of us, however, the knowledge of what to pray for comes in a very natural way, more like a simple intuition.
We may not be sure whether we are inspired by God or not; we learn by experience to sift out our intuitions and to find what works out in practice. Often, after I have followed what seemed to me a simple intuition about what to pray for, the person I was praying for has told me that I touched on those very things he had not directly mentioned but had hoped that I would pray for. When these intuitions work out time after time, you learn to trust that God is working through them.
In addition to listening to the person, we should also be alert to the promptings of the Spirit who may enlighten us, especially when we don’t know what to pray for. It is not healthy for us to be unduly problem-oriented and symptom-centered. In the abundance of Christ’s health and life, sickness will be overcome, in the brilliance of that light, darkness and ignorance will be dispersed.
Laying on of Hands. In actual praying for the sick, the laying on of hands is a traditional Christian practice: “They will lay their hands on the sick, who will recover” (Mark 16:18). Certainly it is not essential; if you feel that the person you are praying for would be embarrassed or would feel more comfortable if you stay at a distance, then by all means be sensitive to his feelings. But if it does seem right, there are several advantages that explain the New Testament practice of the laying on of hands.
In the first place, there does seem to be a warm current of healing power that often flows from the minister of healing to the sick person. Precisely what happens when we feel this current we are not sure, but it seems like a transfer of life-giving power. Jesus himself experienced this flow of power in such a way that he could sense it:
Now there was a woman suffering from a hemorrhage for twelve years, whom no one had been able to cure. She came up behind him and touched the fringe of his cloak; and the hemorrhage stopped at that instant. Jesus said, “Who touched me?” when they all denied that they had, Peter and his companions said, “Master, it is the crowds round you, pushing.” But Jesus said, “Somebody touched me. I felt that power had gone out from me.” (Luke 8:43-46)
Often we experience this same transfer of power, occasionally like a gentle electric current, but more often like a flow of warmth. Whatever it is, it is often connected with healing. It almost seems like a transfer of life.
Some with the gift of healing talk about “soaking prayer” in which you just soak the person in a prayer of God’s love. In thirty years of praying for the sick, we have discovered that this soaking prayer where we spend time with a person and pray with the laying on of hands helps immeasurably. It’s like God’s radiation treatment: The longer the sickness is held in the force-field of God’s love, the more it shrinks, until it finally disappears.
The Actual Prayer. In praying for the sick person, we can be spontaneous and improvise prayer for healing. We can assume any posture that is most comfortable for us—sitting, kneeling, or standing—where we can best forget ourselves and relax and concentrate on the presence of God. We turn our hearts and minds to the Father, or to Jesus; we know that it is only through their love that anything will happen. After welcoming their presence and praising God, we then turn to the petition itself.
Most ministers of healing suggest that we be specific in our prayer, that we visualize as clearly as possible what we are asking God to heal. For instance, if we are praying for the healing of a broken bone we can ask the Father (or Jesus) to take away every infection, to stimulate the growth of the cells needed to restore the bone, and to fill in any breaks. Such a specific request seems to enliven our own faith, as we see in our imagination what we are praying for. It also stimulates the faith of the sick person as he listens and pictures in his own mind what we are asking God to accomplish in reality. This helps him become more actively involved in the prayer, even if he says nothing.
On the other hand, some of us—that includes me—are by temperament not very good at imagining things; it is much easier to leave the imagination out and just ask God—but in a very specific way—to heal the person.
With Confidence and Thanksgiving. For a long time, there has been a kind of tradition which led most of us to end all our prayers with the phrase, “if it be your will.” The idea behind it, of course, is that we don’t know God’s will, so we don’t have the confidence that everything we ask for will be given us. This is true. Yet, this addition—”if it be your will”—can weaken our prayer if it really means “I don’t believe anything is going to happen.” This is a far cry from the words of Jesus, “Everything you ask and pray for, believe that you have it already, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24).
If we believe that God answers our prayers always (not always as we think he will, but nevertheless always), we naturally will have a heartfelt desire to thank him. We can thank him even during the prayer: “I thank you, Lord, that even now you are sending you healing love and power into Bill and are answering our prayer.” Our attitude should be that of St. Paul: “There is no need to worry but if there is anything you need, pray for it, asking God for it with prayer and thanksgiving” (Philippians 4:6).