Posts Tagged ‘mind of Christ’

I love my wife.  I realized I loved her fairly early in our relationship and it was with great joy that she said yes to my marriage proposal after we had been dating about 5 months.  During this time I have never not loved Lisa.  I wish I could say that she has always felt loved, but I know that at times she has not.  This realization has been one arrived at through a rather drawn-out season of learning.  The Lord kept bringing me back to Ephesians 5:25 until I finally learned and acted upon His prompting to take love to another level.  Here is my post with my friend as we walk through Proverbs.  This is from Friday’s reading in chapter 5.

Proverbs 5:18.  “May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.”
Lisa and I have been married for over 30 years.  Any couple that has been together for any time has had their share of difficulties.  We have had ours although in God’s grace, none have been too serious.  Probably our most persistent issue has been that we get too busy with our jobs, activities, and doing things for the kids that we forget to take time to nurture our marriage.  Make no mistake – the most important earthly relationship a married person has is the one with their spouse.
I went through a season beginning about 7 years ago that the message the Lord laid on my heart was Ephesians 5:25.  “Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her…”   This went on for about 4 years.  During that time I repeatedly tried to “Band-Aid” an acceptable response.  I would take this prompting to mean that I needed to “do more” for Lisa, which I would do for a while, but I would soon drift back into busy-ness.  I would again notice the lack of passion and depth in our marriage and I would seek the Lord and He would point to the same verse.  Now I have sought to walk closely with the Lord for 32 years.  I know Him to be real.  He has actively guided me.  For the majority of the time prior to this, there were things He would bring to light that needed changing in me, sometimes it might take me a little while to get it right, but usually in short order He had brought about the change in me He desired and the next lesson would begin.  So for a single lesson to continue for 4 years was different and very humbling.  God had to eventually break me in a very painful and powerful manner.  You can read about it in depth in this blog in the post entitled “Broken Legs, Mended Hearts”.
Here are a few truths that I learned from that season that tie into this verse in Proverbs.
1) Our relationship with our wife is the best barometer of our relationship with God.  If we can’t get the relationship right with the most important human being who we can see, we will struggle with the relationship with the most important One who we happen to be unable to see yet.
2)  God knows the deep things that must be rooted out in our lives.  He loves us enough that He will do the work that needs to be done to get them out.
3)  The first step is not adding more “spiritual” things to our to-do list.  The first step is dying to self and allowing God to replace our wishes, wants, and desires with His desires.
There is an amazing thing that has happened since I reached a deeper place of dying to self and better serving Lisa.  God immediately put a fresh love for Lisa in my heart.  Before anything actually changed in our relationship, God was already making changes inside of me that would become the fertile ground that grew a renewed and deeper love between us.  In a practical way, my love began expressing itself in her love language again which is Quality Time.  My love language is Acts of Service which isn’t on Lisa’s love language radar at all, so all my work to try and show her love in my love language missed the mark.  As God worked in my heart I didn’t have to consciously think about how to show her love.  Since we have been through the Love Language training and recognize the truths of the Five Love Languages my brokenness now sought to effectively demonstrate itself to her.  However since our love had gotten stale and we both were so busy, we had forgotten the need to be intentional in this area.  Once I started truly dying to what I wanted, I became focused upon pleasing Lisa and our relationship has grown and blossomed.  It has been really great the past three years or so.
Oh, I almost forgot.  The fact that I was dying to my desires did not mean that my deepest desires now were totally neglected.  The good ones, the godly ones, the best ones now became the desire of my wife.  God began prompting Lisa to meet my needs at a much deeper level too.
There is a lot of godly wisdom in the verses of Proverbs 5, particularly about avoiding the temptations of the wayward or adulterous woman.  However I have found that if I focus upon doing the BEST thing, I don’t have to spend nearly as much time and effort on not doing all the wrong things.  Dying to self and loving your spouse in practical ways are two sides of the same coin.  Here’s to doing the BEST thing.
I hope you enjoy today’s reading.  Drop me a comment or ask a question if you would get a chance.  I’d love to interact with some of my readers.
Be blessed and be a blessing to someone today.

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Two and a half years ago my wife and I felt prompted to make an addition to our home.  It seemed a little odd since we were facing an empty nest within 8 months as our youngest of four was about to graduate and head off to college.  As we continued to pray the nudge became a clarified vision and so we began the process.  The addition was to add a pool and a garage with an apartment over head.  We designed it, found a builder who worked wonderfully with us to get it done before the two weddings we had that year, and by Memorial Day we had a new swimming pool and pool house.  One of the most exciting aspects of the process for me was the opportunity to design and add the landscaping.

One of the coolest features we designed was a cedar pergola to connect the pool house with our home.  This turned out really nice creating a rather strong contrast of the red cedar against the grey-brown brick of the buildings.  Additionally it framed a small courtyard that needed the creative landscape touch.  One of the things I envisioned were vines climbing up the pergola and providing an additional degree of natural shading as well as seasonal color.  I found some plants that appeared like they would work and I added them into the plan.

Today, two years after completion of the project I regularly begin my day talking to the Lord on the pool house porch.  This morning I was struck by the wonderful fragrance that wafted in and around the little courtyard from one of the honeysuckles that we planted.  The plant has climbed the 12 feet to the top of the pergola and is covered in delicate pink blossoms.

As I breathed deeply I thought about how that little honeysuckle is like believers who grow into committed followers.  Two years ago the plant arrived in a pot that I easily held in the palm of my hand.  We were careful to plant it in good soil.  We amended the soil and added the appropriate fertilizer.  We also watered it whenever conditions warranted.  A regular task through the growing season has been the training of the plant.  You see honeysuckles spread broadly in their natural state.  They tend to be invasive and a nuisance.  We had in mind a vertical growth that looped up and over the pergola.  So on at least a weekly basis we have had to maneuver the branches into the correct direction.  Additionally we have pruned it removing dead and damaged growth as well as branches that weren’t heading in the right direction.

There are parallels with the growth and training of this little plant and followers of Jesus.  The start of our life in Christ is a very delicate time.  If the enemy can’t stop us from hearing and responding to Jesus’ call to save us, he will double down to keep us from growing in our faith.  He hates all Christians, but if he can prevent us from becoming effective, then at least he doesn’t have to worry about us working in tandem with God to expand the kingdom.  During this period of vulnerability it is crucial that new believers be properly connected to a vibrant body of believers who will ensure they are fed, nurtured, and encouraged.

A major challenge for new believers is the process of sanctification that we begin when we say YES to Jesus call upon our lives.  Salvation is God’s gift given the moment we say yes to Him.  Our new life in Christ begins then.  It would be wonderful if all bad habits and sin tendencies were immediately removed at that time too, but it doesn’t work that way.  My personal experience is that some of my sin tendencies disappeared immediately.  Some did not.  1 Thessalonians 4 talks about living to please God which we do as we sanctify ourselves from the old habits and sins.  In a very close comparison this is like the pruning that takes place on that little honeysuckle we planted.  Unhealthy branches and branches that aren’t going the right way have to be removed.  The same is true in our lives.  And these things take action on the part of the new believer usually in alignment with the body of believers they are connected to.

Time is also a similarity between our honeysuckle and the believer.  I have seen a few new believers “flame out.”  In every case they jumped forward with great enthusiasm and vigor, but they wilted within a relatively short time frame.  They had not taken the time to grow, to develop the roots of faith needed to withstand persecution and the various attacks of the enemy.  Jesus talks about this in the parable of the sower see Matthew 13:1 – 23, but especially verses 20 & 21.  As I mentioned before the early stage of plant growth is a very vulnerable time.  The roots must develop depth to be able to withstand a dry spell.

I have a lot of perennials that I have planted.  One of the worst things you can do for a perennial is water it too often.  This results in shallow roots with no depth.  If you then leave for a week or two and there is no rain you are liable to return to dead plants.  This is one of the reasons that the Lord doesn’t just make life all fun and games.  We must experience times of difficulty, challenge, and dryness to cause us to persevere, stretch ourselves, and grow our faith.

Finally I mentioned the wonderful fragrance coming from the honeysuckle.  In the old testament the burning of incense was a prescribed act of worship.  Symbolically we view the drifting up of the incense smoke and fragrance as representative of our prayers and offerings rising to God.  As we spend time in the Word of God, the Bible; as we sit under good, solid teaching; as we apply ourselves to serving others; as we seek to hear and obey God, we will grow in our faith.  It may be all small steps, but they are steps none-the-less.  We begin to take on the mind of Christ more and more.  We are like that honeysuckle stretching, reaching, and growing.  And in our season to blossom, we will burst forth in fragrant, beautiful bloom.  Our devotion and love of the Father will manifest itself in the flower and fruit of a life established and growing in Him.

Let me finish the story about why God gave us the vision to expand.  About the time we finished building, my sister’s house sold essentially out of the blue.  They looked around for some place to live, but that wasn’t working out.  Again that nudge from the Lord convinced us to offer up our home.  The day after our youngest son moved into College, my sister and her family moved in with us.  The extra room made it work fine.  And then 8 months later, our oldest son who had moved away for what seemed like a good job opportunity, realized closer to family was important.  So their family of 4 moved in with us.  So when the vision was given we wondered why soon-to-be empty nesters would be adding on rather than downsizing.  We didn’t know, but we clearly sensed the Lord’s leading so we obeyed.  And because we did we have been blessed to grow so much closer to our grandsons, son, and daughter-in-law as well as my sister, brother-in-law, nieces, and nephew.  I’m convinced that despite the challenges that three families living together will invariably bring, we have all grown through this experience.  And I believe that part of that sweet fragrance is the love and service we have given to one another these past two years.

Be blessed my friend and be a blessing to someone today.

Our Fragrant Honeysuckle

Our Fragrant Honeysuckle

Climbing the pergola this honeysuckle looks and smells wonderful.

Climbing the pergola this honeysuckle looks and smells wonderful.

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The unbridled pursuit of power has resulted in destruction and carnage throughout history.  Actions resulting from the struggle for power and domination headline the news today.  Whether it is Iran pursuing nuclear capability, ISIS striving to extend its realm of influence, or political leaders in the US seeking to push their agenda, the wielding of power comes at a great price.  Following these three conflicts too closely has a power of its own.  It is easy to be overwhelmed by the magnitude of the real and potential consequences of these conflicts.  All three of these headline-dominating topics fall short of the most powerful force in the universe though.  And that makes all the difference.  That of course is the power of God available to and through His children through intercessory prayer.  From Ephesians 1:19b and following.  “That power is the same as the mighty strength He exerted when He raised Christ from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.”

The point today is not to spend a lot of time discussing God’s power.  From creating the universe, raising Jesus from the dead, and guiding the fledgling Church from 12 frightened disciples to the worldwide instrument of good that it is today – His credentials are solid.  Ultimate power resides in the Lord God Almighty.  I have been stirred lately that the Lord has a message for the Church today that we have a role to play in releasing His power in our day.  And that comes when we enter into intercessory prayer.

Prayer is simply communication with God.  It is meant to be a dialogue.  It is not meant to be a rote recitation of sacred words.  It is not meant to be an obligation we dutifully fulfill.  It is a conversation between two parties who love and respect each other.  God condescends to meet us where we are.  And through our time together He lifts us bit by bit to a higher place.  The more time spent with God in intimate fellowship, the less the cares and worries of this world hold and control us.  This intimacy is flooded with the Word of God.  Repeatedly the scriptures come to mind as I fellowship with the Father.  This is a primary way the Lord will speak to us.  He makes His Word come alive in our hearts.  The end result is that more and more we transformed and the mind of Christ takes shape within us.

As we spend time together with the Father, His desires become our desires.  This is where intercessory prayer begins.  It is as simple as longing for and expressing God’s desires into being through our lives and with our mouth.  We ask for those things that God desires to see happen in the world.

Jesus modeled this in His ministry.  He would begin the day in time alone with the Father.  He would then come down with purpose and launch into the day’s activity.  His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane is instructive.  He knew what God’s plan was long before he entered that final private time with the Father.  He had foreshadowed to the disciples what was going to happen on numerous occasions.  Yet when the time actually arrived His disciples didn’t recognize it.  Jesus himself agonized over what was to take place offering up one more petition for a Plan B.  He even asked, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”  He communed with His Father consistently. He understood what the Father’s plan was.  He acted upon it and He spoke it into being.  In John chapter 17 Jesus begins with a brief petition for Himself and then intercedes for His disciples and then all who would become believers.  Through His obedience the world was forever changed and lives continue to be transformed to this day … salvation, deliverance, healing, restoration, death to life all through Jesus’ life, death, and faithful obedience to the Father.

When Jesus ascended into heaven He promised to send the Holy Spirit to the Church.  The Holy Spirit is God living and abiding in the believer.  He is our counselor who always points the way to Jesus and the Father.  Jesus speaks to who the Holy Spirit is and what He will do in John chapters 14 – 16.  In John 14:12 Jesus tells His disciples, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”  Jesus is passing on His mantle to whoever believes in me.  That is us!  And that is amazing!!

One of the less visible, but vitally crucial roles God has given the church is that of intercessory prayer.  Missionaries are absolutely dependent upon the financial support from home to continue their work.  I would argue that it is an even greater need for the prayer support from home to remain unceasing.  The same God who was able to put a coin into the mouth of a fish for Peter and Jesus’ taxes is the same God who will meet the needs of a missionary in the field if the intercessory prayer is taking place.

Rees Howell was the President of the Bible College of Wales during WWII.  His greatest calling though was that of an intercessor.  During the war there were numerous times when the Holy Spirit would lay the burden of intercession heavy upon Mr. Howell.  One instance the burden was so great that He was moved to cancel classes and call for the entire school to enter into intercessory prayer.  As the hours marched on, hundreds of students and faculty were on their face before God, interceding for God’s hand of protection upon those in great peril.  At times the mood in the chapel would shift as the Lord’s Spirit impressed the urgency of the situation upon the group gathered together.  Late at night the Holy Spirit let Rees know the work was completed.  A few days later news came from Italy of a miraculous intervention as the Allies moved across the Island of Sicily.  The Allies were surrounded and facing certain annihilation. Reinforcements were not going to arrive in time and the German and Italian bombardment was taking a tremendous toll.  It was simply a matter of time before the outgunned Allied soldiers were decimated.  The commanders had considered surrender, but decided to hold until they could hold no longer which wouldn’t be long.  Suddenly and inexplicably the bombardment stopped.  The bombing ceased in the night at exactly the time that the word was given to the intercessors that their immediate work was through.

Now this begs the question – does God take sides in a conflict?  The answer is simple.  God is Holy and He is His own.  We need to seek His face, grow in our intimacy with Him and then we join His side.  In the present conflict with ISIS, just like in World War II there is a very clear evil at work on one side of the conflict.  While it is surprising that a clear plan of action has not come forward to deal with ISIS this simply means we still have time to intercede.  You and I are called to pray the desires of God into existence.  He wants us to partner with Him in the redemption of the world and intercession is one of the ways we do that.

Go back to Ephesians where we started.  Pick it up at Ephesian 1:18 – 19a.  “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and His incomparably great power for us who believe.”  Friends I encourage you to ask God to put a burden on your heart to join Him in intercession.  Consider a healthy dis-satisfaction with evil as a starting place and ask God to give you the words and perseverance to pray through.  When He does launch into it with all you are.  When we do we are tying into God’s incomparable great power for us who believe.

Be blessed and be a blessing to those the Father puts in your path and on your heart today.


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I don’t know about you, but choosing to die is not my first choice.  In fact in almost every scenario that comes to mind I am choosing the path that provides at least a glimmer of hope of survival.  Our sense of self preservation is strong.  But Jesus preached and modeled something radically different than self preservation.  In Matt 16:25 He said, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Me will find it.”  As we follow His life we see that Jesus willingly lived in obedience to God’s plan and for our salvation which included dying to His self.  As a professed believer and follower in Jesus it is of paramount importance that I come to grips with what Jesus is asking me to do.

Dying to self is the foundational act of faith.  Truly living a life where Jesus is Lord means that we are not.  We, or at least I, are selfish creatures.  In most cases my world revolves around what I see, perceive, and deem appropriate.  Although I am loathe to admit it, I often want what I want and I will act in accordance with that desire much of the time.  Judging by the world around me that is true of most people.  When I committed my life to Christ, when I gave Him my life, I recognized that this innate selfishness was liable to be a problem.  But I trusted Jesus to do something about that.  As I look back over 30+ years of following Him I can see much progress yet there are still times that the old selfish man rises up.  Thankfully God has given us the Holy Spirit to help us with this.  Our response is to die to self daily and trust Him to help us.  And He does.

Jesus modeled dying to self literally.  Not everyone is called to willingly put themselves into situations where physical death is the likely outcome, but that is part of what we sign up for.  As I mentioned yesterday history is full of the faithful losing their lives at the hands of despots and tyrants who war against the one true God and His people.  Today as I write this many believers will perish at the hands of ISIS followers.  My heart hurts for them and I am moved to intercession.   We also have a dear family that we love and support that have been ministering in central Asia now for 11 years.  They recently relocated to Turkey and are beginning a new work among the Muslim population there.  Please join me in praying for God’s protection, grace, and mighty power upon all those in this part of the world.

In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.  Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Mt 26:39.  I have prayed something resembling the first part of that prayer many times… “Lord get me out of this bad or unpleasant situation.”  That is not dying to self though.  Dying to self is the entirety of Jesus’ prayer… a request for another option other than the obvious, but total submission to the Father’s plan and purpose.

Because Jesus submitted to the Father’s will He did have to suffer an agonizing night and day of torture, humiliation, crucifixion, and death.  However, He also purchased my forgiveness and forgiveness for anyone who trusts in Him.  He also launched the Church to proclaim the truth of reconciliation with God through faith in Him.  He broke the power of hell and the grave as He proved that heaven is our final home and the grave is just a doorway into larger life.

I don’t know about you, but I get pumped up when I think about what Jesus has done for me and for you.  Before I close I want to flesh out a little more what dying to self looks like for us.  Let’s get practical.  I think the fifth chapter of Ephesians is a good place to start.

For husbands it means cherishing your wife, listening to her, working hard to understand her needs and then striving to meet them.  In the list of priorities after you wife would be your children.  These come first – before the man-cave, guys night out, or your pet project.  I’m not saying that those fun things can’t happen, but they have to be down the priority list and only occur when others are considered and acted upon first.  I have to laugh because I have handled this in every way imaginable and most of them have NOT been the right way.  To do these things for your wife and children, but be secretly pouting for the guy things, is not dying to self.  Time spent with the Lord asking and allowing Him to instill in us the desire to love and cherish our family is how we get to the place we can do this right.

Wives dying to self really comes down to a very simple word – submission.  I know that opens a can of worms and I am not going to take the time to chase and catch them all.  Staying simple, Jesus is your Lord as a believer.  You are to submit to Him just as your husband is to submit to Him.  To the extent you can do so without violating the specific leading of the Lord in His Word, you are to live in harmony under the leadership of your husband.  Just like the husband who must give up his will to seek the Lord’s will first and then serve you and your children, so too you must dwell in your prayer closet with the Father to have His heart and attitude in this.

I can think of dozens of scenarios and situations and I am sure you can think of many unique to your life.  In every case the right path is similar.

It begins with a vibrant relationship with the Father through consistent, constant prayer and reading of the Word of God.

It is undergirded by the consistent petition, “Lord make me more like you.”

It progresses through consistently asking and acting upon the thought, “what is best for the other person.”

It is solidified by celebrating the joy and blessings in the lives of others.

It finds it’s rest in thankfulness to the Father for allowing you to be an agent of His grace.

And along the way, without ever focusing upon yourself or your wants, you will find yourself blessed with peace, joy, love, and a deepened faith in the One who loves us more than we can ask or imagine.

Be blessed and be a blessing today my friend.

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Perfect Peace

There is a term that occurs fairly frequently in the bible that bears deeper consideration – “Perfect Peace”. I read in Isaiah 25:3 today.  You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in You.  I don’t know about you, but there are times when chaos, stress, and difficulties bear down upon me and anything resembling peace – especially perfect peace, seems like a distant dream.

The past year has contained a number of extremely challenging events – unbelievable work stress, health issues, a heart procedure, job losses within the family – you get the picture.  When I think back it is interesting to note that there have been windows of light and peace throughout this time that were not related to external circumstances at all, but rather they were related to fixing my mind on the Lord and putting my trust in His eternal goodness and love.  In fact some of the most blessed and peace-filled periods have also been when the external situation was the most dire.

I recognize that this is because when things get so bad that I have no recourse, I turn fully to God for help.  You’d think I would learn to stay in a posture turned to Him, but I must admit, I am sometimes a slow learner.  Way too often I proceed with a “I’ve got it from here, Lord” attitude.  I recognize this for what it is – sin.  In my own self-sufficiency I stray from God’s calling upon my life to walk with Him.  Instead I often want to run ahead and do it my way.  As I write this I repent and turn to the gracious Lord and ask His forgiveness.  Because of Who He is and what He did on the cross, I can rejoice that He has forgiven me and I am empowered to walk with Him.

Because I have experienced the Lord’s perfect peace for periods and seasons in my life, I have identified a few primary keys to achieving this.  They are the tools He has given us to keep our minds steadfast on Him.

1) Read, study, mark, and obey the Word of God.  God has chosen to reveal Himself through the bible.  This is the chief means of understanding His will for us.  It is the instrument He gives us to weigh our thoughts and concerns against.  The writer of Hebrews under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit gave us this admonition.  “For the Word of God is alive and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12.

2) Become engaged in a local church.  We are made to be connected to one another in the body of faith.  In fact God has created us to be members of His family and that family is the Church.  We need to have persons we can emulate and learn from within the church as well as people we are peers and friends with.  As we mature we will also become mentors and coaches of others who are younger in their faith.  For this to be a tool the Lord uses there are two characteristics that must exist.  First it must be a church that is passionate about Jesus and sharing the gospel.  Second it must be bible-based.

3) Consistently talk with God.  While many people understand that this is prayer, I specifically use the term talk with God because my experience is He wants to have a conversation with us.  Granted His side of the conversation is not usually in spoken words, but the Creator of the Universe is able to communicate to us… through His creation, in gentle impressions in our heart, through an appropriately timed comment by another, through just the right reading at just the right time – God is able and wants to be engaged in our lives.

The bottom line, Our heavenly Father wants us to experience Perfect Peace.  And Perfect Peace comes from minds that are steadfast on Him.  My desire is to get to this place all the time.  The bible talks about the “mind of Christ”.  Jesus and the Father were connected.  Even though Jesus took on humanity and lived among us for a time, He never moved out of the place of Perfect Peace.  He lived in intimacy with the Father.  He invites us to do the same.  Join me in this endeavor, won’t you!

May God’s peace overwhelm and fill you today as you seek to maintain a mind that is steadfast on Him.


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Why do we pray?  The first time we pray is usually based upon our need and our inability to fulfill that need.  It is a cry for help not unlike an infant who can do nothing for themself and must have someone else tend to all their needs.  However just like that infant that grows and matures, so to our prayer, or more correctly our life, should grow and mature as we continue to live connected to God our heavenly Father.  I believe the most important purpose of prayer is not the fulfillment of our specific prayer needs, but transformation.  The consistent, progressive development of the mind of Christ.  2Corinthian 3:18 says, “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

Prayer is our on-going communication with God who is our Father.  For me the imagery of God as Father is full and rich as I was blessed with a wonderful dad who loved, taught, corrected, coached, and poured life into us all the while looking toward the day when I would be a man and father in my own right.  While not everyone is fortunate enough to have an earthly father who modeled traits that forshadowed our heavenly Father, that does not limit God.  The bible also says He is a friend who sticks closer than a brother and He is a wonderful counselor.  The point is that God is able to meet us wherever we are and relate to us in a manner that begins the transformation process inside us.  That process begins as we begin that conversation with Him called prayer.

Before going further I want to point out that I am not making light of the many other purposes of prayer such as intercession for the needs of others, prayer for guidance, prayers of praise and adoration, etc.  In fact I believe that all of these carry within them the ability to transform us and others.  There was a time when I was engaged in a focused period of prayer with 2 – 3 others for an hour early every morning.  One day after leaving the Prayer Tower and going to work I was flushed with the joy that comes from spending quality time with the Father and other believers.  A little later that morning one of the admin assistants, Chris, asked me if I knew a young man who had worked at the mill.  It turns out the young man, Tim, had felt called to missions and was in Singapore with his new wife and they had just found out he had lukemia with no money and few good options.  I immediately said I didn’t know Tim, but I knew Tim’s Father and that we should go to Him and ask for Him to heal Tim.  We prayed right there and I was totally confident that God heard.  A few weeks later Chris stopped me and told me Tim had gotten to the Philipines and they were planning a procedure which among other things meant he would never be able to have children.  Well we prayed again including asking that the Lord would not make Tim unable to father children.  God answered those prayers over time.  Tim was healed, he was not sterile, he is a father now, and he continues to minister.  I never met Tim personally and I know my prayer was joined with many others in interceding for this young man and his wife.  However I know this on-going prayer with the Father helped build faith for me, for Chris, and for Tim and his family.

I have heard people say that God answers prayer with a “Yes”, a “No”, or “Wait”.  I know for a while I suscribed to this simplified explanation and on a rudimentary level that can be applied.  However this simplification of prayer tends to reinforce a picture of God as Santa Claus… “Yes, here is your present”, “No, this is not your present”, or “Wait it’s not your turn for a present”.  In our early days of walking with Him God may seem more like Santa – a distant, benevolent giver of gifts, but in reality He is so much more.  And He wants us to become so much more than consumers of gifts.  His goal is that we become obediant loving children who are being changed into the likeness of His Son, Jesus.

While yes, no, and wait may apply it is always accompanied with a conversation – if we are still and take time to listen.  I’ve just had a major decision come up.  I have been praying for guidance and asking a few close friends to join with me in seeking God’s will.  Well the answer came, but it was wrapped in a conversation with the One who loves me more than I can even imagine.  While I am happy to have a clear answer, my joy is even greater that I am a child of God Who is intimately involved in my life.  And even better He is continuously working in my life to transform me.  I know I am still far from where God is taking me.  Those who know me well can still see plenty of work for God to do, but He is making progress.  And so it is with all of us.  God wants to work in us, He wants to converse with us.  He wants to love us in tangible ways that we can see, feel, and hear.

I encourage you to take time to just tell God what’s on your heart today.  He already knows but He likes to hear it from you.  As you pour this out read His word and listen for His voice.  He will speak life into you.  He will transform your places of pain into places of victory because He loves you!

Be blessed and be a blessing.

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Worship 1

It was an awesome weekend of worship. The band from our church had a Night of Worship on Saturday in conjunction with the release of their latest worship CD. The 14 songs on the album are all original from different members of our church and performed by the band including members across the five campus’. The style is in the same vein as Chris Tomlin and the focus is upon our great God. If you get a chance look up the “No Other Name” album by the NewSpring Band.

Mentioning the night of worship makes me think of what worship is. As many of you know my occupation is as a Reliability Manager. I help my company’s plants understand what is necessary for the plants to run more consistently, producing product at a lower price by having the equipment do what it is supposed to do, when it is supposed to do it. One of the biggest tasks I have is to convince people that reliability isn’t just what maintenance does when the equipment breaks down. Reliability is all the activities, behaviors, and culture that have any impact upon the health and care of the equipment. Yet most persons have a very narrow view of reliability. The same is often true of the word Worship. In many cases we look at it as the time we sing praise songs. In other cases we may expand that view and encompass when we go to church. Even more progressive thinking would broaden that to say we worship when we are intentional to serving others in Christ’s name. I believe this is a fairly accurate definition although I see another level of worship that I believe we can and should aspire to and that is having the mind of Christ.

We are called to live “in Christ”. We are told to be filled with the Holy Spirit. We are children of the King. All of these show our reality, yet so much of the time we don’t receive, perceive, or feel these truths. In many cases we can experience a nearness to God that lasts until we walk out the door of the church, or until the first trial trips us up and then we seem to fall back into turbulent ways of the world.  For me it is usually a gradual losing focus that gets my eyes off of the reality of living in Christ and onto whatever task or challenge I am up against.  A great Sunday service, a true Sabbath rest, solid praise music in my car radio can all help me maintain focus a while longer, but like a water bladder that has a pinhole leak, over time I lose that sense of joy and Christ-centered focus that buoys me above the fray and gives me such sharp focus.

I have had seasons in my life where this pattern has been broken and I experienced an extended time of divine joy.  Last year during Lent was one of those times.  As I look back at that time I see a few reasons which I will briefly mention and then I will go into greater detail in the coming posts.  1) I was committed to being obedient to a task that I know the Lord asked me to do.  2) I had other believing friends who joined with me in prayer.  3) The Lord by His Holy Spirit moved in situations and circumstances to make His presence clearly seen.  4) We were intentional about seeking and doing whatever the Lord asked us to do during this season.

It is my intention to have a Lenten discipline again this year that draws me closer to the Father.  However after Lent last year I relaxed and I know that was a mistake.  I am asking for the Lord’s guidance now on both the Lenten discipline and the follow up.  He is faithful and I am asking that He do whatever He needs to in me to grow my faith.  Won’t you join me?  To God be the Glory!

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