What Does It Take To Waste Your Life?

Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper

Don't Waste Your Life by John Piper

What kind of life must you live for God to say at the great day of judgment…”you’ve wasted the precious life I’ve given you”?

Better yet, how must you live for YOU to conclude that you’ve wasted your life?

Sound like harsh questions? If so, then you should see what John Piper (and I conclude) thinks is the answer! I found this book several days ago and it’s hitting me like a ton of bricks right now cause I feel like John is saying what I’m not able to put into words as well as he did. I feel like this book is going to be yet another wake up call for me to realize that God is calling me (and you) to a higher standard, a deeper love, a more resolute passion and an unwavering commitment to His Glory.

Do yourself a favor…Christian or not, go download the FREE copy of this book and read it from cover to cover. Don’t forget to subscribe on the right side of this page as we’ll be providing some AWESOME tools, tips, encouragement and resources to help you make sure that you Don’t Waste Your Life!

It’s Crazy…Isn’t It?

I recently heard about a book that seemed to really speak to the heart of what this site is all about.  It’s called Crazy Love by Francis Chan.  I haven’t finished it yet, but I want to share just a small section of content from the back of the book and one quote from the inside.  Check this out:

Have you ever felt like we were missing it?

It’s crazy if you think about it.  The God of the universe – the Creator of nitrogen and pine needles…galaxies and E-minor – loves us with a radical, unconditional, self-sacrificing love.  And what’s our typical response?  We go to church, sing some songs and try not to cuss.

Whether you’ve verbalized it yet or not…we all know something’s wrong.

  • Why are there are over 350,000,000,000 BILLION galaxies…that we know of, most of which the human race has only seen in the last few years due to the Hubble telescope?
  • Why does a caterpillar have 228 separate muscles in it’s head (that’s a lot for a bug don’t you think)?
  • The average elm tree has approx 6M leaves on it
  • Your own heart generates enough pressure to squirt blood up to 30 feet
  • He didn’t have to put over 3,000 species of trees within 1 sq mile in the Amazon jungle or so many different kinds of laughter (you know…wheezes, snorts, quiet, loud, obnoxious), but he did.
  • Did you know that spiders, when spinning their web can produce up to 60 ft of silk per hr while simultaneously producing a special oil on their feet so they don’t stick to their own web…that deserves some respect!
  • When you get goose bumps, the hair in your follicles is actually helping you stay warmer by trapping heat.
  • Or have you ever marveled at the fact that plants take in Carbon dioxide and produce oxygen?
  • And those same plants started as a seed in the dirt, some watered some not, that transformed and defied gravity and poked their head/sprout out of the ground and into the sunlight.

The rest of the back cover says…

Does something deep inside your heart long to break free from the status quo?  Are you hungry for an authentic faith that addresses the problems of our world in tangible, even radical solutions?  God is calling you to a passionate love relationship with Himself.  Because the answer to religious complacency isn’t working harder at a list of dos and don’ts – it’s falling in love with God.  And once you encoutner His love as Francis describes it, you’ll never be the same.

Because when you’re wildly in love with someone…it changes everything.

And here’s a quote from the book:

“Whatever God’s reasons for such diversity, creativity and sophistication in the universe, on earth and in our own bodies the point of it all is His glory.”

Radical Awakening – You Betchya

Radical Awakening for Sleeping ChristiansSo I’m sifting through my email one day after I wrote the about page for this blog which attempts to describe why this blog exists; and that is:

  1. To help Christians who are hungry for more of God and are searching to find information that will disciple them and help them grow.
  2. To help wake up sleeping Christians who aren’t hungry enough and have fallen into a spiritual lethargy of sorts.

Anyway, as I’m going through my email I come across this Facebook email with this subject:

“Radical Awakening” sent you a message on Facebook…

Now I found out that is was an invitation for a webinar that was going to “be talking about a new evolutionary impulse coming through humanity now that is giving birth to a new paradigm of consciousness and a new paradigm of living. This new frequency is calling us to make fundamental changes in all aspects of our lives.”

Wow…not sure what the webinar was about (very much doubting it had a biblical basis but I don’t know), cause I didn’t attend.  But this much I know…I LOVE the term/concept “Radical Awakening”.   I love it cause that’s how I’d describe my experience with Jesus over the last 2 years and it’s how I’d describe one of the primary purposes for this site.

A bit down the message the webinar inviter says “and you’re being called to awaken to your true nature and transform your relationship to Life! ” I’d probably re-phrase this slightly to read more like this:

“and you’re being called to awaken to your spirit and inner person by the renewing of your mind and transform your relationship with Jesus! “

No matter where you are in your walk/relationship with the Lord, it can and should grow stronger.  There is no coasting with God, you’re either drawing nearer to Him or drifting farther away from Him.

So which are you doing…drawing closer or drifting farther away?  The day of the Lord’s return is close…it’s almost as if the world even senses that something’s up.

Chime in with your thoughts and feelings on this by commenting below!

How To Worship God – What Is God Worth To You?

How To Worship - Making Worship A Way Of Life

Making Worship A Way Of Life

In my post last week entitled How To Live For God – 6 Practical Suggestions that Will Change Your Life, we looked at how God transforms us through living a disciplined life.  We saw that the spiritual disciplines put us in the perfect place for God to transform our lives.

I do have a confession to make though…I did have some ulterior motives by picking the topic of self discipline to write about.

You see I’m not so naturally inclined to be disciplined.  Maybe most are, but I’m certainly not unfortunately.  So writing about the topic helped me to study and motivate myself toward a higher level of disciplined living.  I would LOVE to be known for being disciplined but in reality, not so much!

But as Yoda would way, “a worshiper I am”!

Seriously though I don’t want to sound hoity toity or somehow spiritually exalted, in fact, I didn’t ask for it, it literally found me.

Here’s how it unfolded.

In early 1999 I was a professed Christian, but very much a baby spiritually speaking.  I was a jerk to those who loved me, my marriage was in trouble and I didn’t even know it, I was broke and going deeper into debt month after month…in short, I was a mess.

Then I find out that we’re gonna have a baby.  For those parents out there, you can attest to the fact that there is no way to describe the depth to which that changes your life.  So through that and some God incidences with a co-worker suggesting we attend a Vineyard church and then seeing a billboard for the same church that said “Vineyard – the church for people who didn’t think they liked church”, I started attending Vineyard Columbus off and on…but way more off than on!

I loved the church almost immediately; rock band on stage, assistant pastor had a pony tale down the middle of his back and everyone wore jeans.  What’s not to like right?

But during the worship there were these people who I now know were truly entering the throne room of worship that were worshipping with reckless abandon. I was not familiar with this and started to make fun of authentic, sold out worshipers; even calling them names and laughing at them to my wife and friends.

Less than 6 months later I found myself wanting what they had…that connection with the Father, more deeply within me than I’ve ever wanted anything before.  I was certainly no longer making fun of them!  I wanted what they had. After we had our baby, we moved from the west side of Columbus (Dublin) to the east side (Pickerington) and started looking for a church.  Someone told me about Eastside Vineyard and we attended in it’s 2nd week in existence.

That’s when it happened…

God grabbed me (and after slapping me around a bit for making fun of worshipers), told me that He wanted me up there leading his people into worship.  Now you have to understand this was all new for me.  Music no, but worship…that was completely new ground. So for the next 4 years I grew under great earthly leadership and of course God’s leadership; and let me tell ya something, God completely transformed me!

Today I lead a worship team at the church we helped to plant in Pataskala, OH called Vineyard Christian Church of Pataskala and God is transforming me… again and still! So why is that story important? Because it’s a picture of how God wooed me to Himself, loved me, and through that love and friendship changed me.  I am a totally different person now and all in good ways. I am blessed with a healthy vibrant marriage and an almost continual awareness of God’s presence. He’s continually teaching me how to be a better

  • husband,
  • child of God,
  • father
  • and friend.

God is looking for authentic worshipers and wants to offer deep, intimate friendship with them and I simply took Him up on His offer.  And when you do take Him up on His offer and give yourself over completely to genuine, authentic worship, God unlocks the door to an incredibly deep relationship and friendship with Him.

Romans 12: 1,2 says this:

1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual[a] act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Why We Worship

First let’s look at why we worship.  In verse 1 Paul urges us to look at God’s mercy. So what is the definition of mercy?  Webster’s says mercy is a disposition to be kind and forgiving.  So this literally means it’s how He’s wired.  Gods’ natural inclination, His default state if you will is to be merciful.  It’s literally the lens through which He sees us.  And that my friend is a good thing! This kind of mercy is completely foreign to us. We are just not wired this way.  But I can hear you say, “Jason sometimes I’m merciful though”.  PLE-ASE!  Let’s not kid ourselves here…at our absolute best (times 100) we don’t even compare to God’s mercy.

Where God loves, we judge.

You say well I don’t judge people…oh really? Need proof?  Consider first impressions. First impressions are so important to us; we always want to make a positive first impression on others and unconsciously make them about others all the time. But what do they really help us do?  Judge others…and not only that, but judge them on all the wrong things!  They say “you never get a second chance to make a first impression”.  Impression of what?  What is it we’re judging about others? Here is a short list:

  • character
  • personality
  • competence
  • integrity
  • aggressiveness
  • and overall likeability

So how long does this take?  60 seconds? 30 seconds? 7 seconds?  How about the blink of an eye!  New research tells us that first impressions or judgments are made within as little as 1/10th of a second!

I was reading an article on PsychologicalScience.org about first impressions and it said the following: “A series of experiments by Princeton psychologists Janine Willis and Alexander Todorov reveal that all it takes is a tenth of a second (or 100 milliseconds) to form an impression of a stranger from their face, and that longer exposures don’t significantly alter those impressions (although they might boost your confidence in your judgments).” The article goes on to say, “Like it or not, judgments based on facial appearance play a powerful role in how we treat others, and how we get treated. Psychologists have long known that attractive people get better outcomes in practically all walks of life.”

Why Is This True?

Those Princeton psychologists have a theory as to why: “…based on evolutionary psychology, that an accelerated and accurate ability to judge trustworthiness in others may have evolved as an important survival mechanism”

A survival mechanism…really?  C’mon let’s be real here!

It’s our flesh in action.  All our prejudices and stereotypes, past experiences (usually negative first), and sinful desires cause this to happen.  God’s mercy allows Him to see past the judgment He could have about or on us and see what and who we really are.  And get this…after He searches us, examines us and sees what and who we really are He loves us anyway…despite it!

Now I don’t know about you, but I know me.  And why He takes pleasure in me and spending time with me and is merciful to me is a mystery, but I’m glad He does.  There are countless other things we could say about God’s mercy, but suffice it to say this.  This is truly a different kind of Mercy!

Worship is the only natural response to this mercy.

Ok, so let’s define worship. Worship:  [comes from old English weorthscipe or worth-ship] to ascribe, assign, attribute, declare worth. Before you can declare God’s worth, you need to discover God’s worth In his book The Way of A Worshiper, Buddy Owens asks this brutal question that I believe we should all ask ourselves “What is God worth to you”? Then Owens says “To the extent that you can answer that question, you will be a worshiper”.

What Are We Worth To God

I agree.  Discovering God’s worth is a lifelong journey and should begin with learning how much we are worth to Him because as 1 John 4:19 tells us “We love Him because He first loved us”.

So how do we discover how much we’re worth to Him?  Try to see yourself as God sees you.  See yourself “in view of God’s mercy”.  As we are able to look at ourselves through God’s eyes we begin to see that:

  • God seeks you out (Genesis 3: 7-10)
  • You are JUST what He’s looking for (Matthew 13:45)
  • You are his most precious possession (Luke 15:3-10); don’t believe it yet? 3Then Jesus told them this parable: 4″Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ 7I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

I don’t know about you, but when I read these things it makes me want to say just two simple words to God; THANK YOU! Those two words are where authentic worship begins.

So now that we have a tiny view of God’s mercy, and we know that the natural response to it is worship, shouldn’t we changed and transformed as a result? Let’s look at verse the rest of verse 1 and part of 2. “offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual[a] act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

Offer up your bodies sacrificially…why do you think God wants our bodies? I believe there are two main reasons.  First, put simply, your body is God’s house.  Isaak Walton once said “God has two dwellings: one in heaven and the other in a meek and thankful heart”. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says 19 Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”

How do you honor God with your body? Fulfill God’s purpose for your life – reach the world for Christ.  It is through your body that God reaches the world around you. We each have our own sphere of influence – people that only we can reach for Christ.  So we see that God accomplishes His purpose for your life through your body. Second, what we subject our bodies to affects our character and our character affects our walk.  Your character will be defined by what you worship.

You might ask, why did you assume I was worshiping anything?  You will worship something…it’s how you’re wired…we were literally born to worship. The question is what will you worship?

Some people worship money and they then become greedy in their character.  Those who worship power become ruthlessMen who worship women become lustful and people who worship themselves become arrogant.  But, those who worship the living God become more Christ-like.

The Result – Encountering God

Look at the end of verse 2 with me again.  “Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will”. If I only knew God’s will for my life I’d do it.  Have you said or felt this?

Every Christian should sincerely desire to know the will of God for their lives Not just at a high level either, but in the details of day to day, moment by moment living.  To wake up asking God for opportunities to heal, bless, and breathe life into others.  To go through your day expecting Him to take you up on your request and waiting for the opportunities you asked for to come. And what Paul is saying is that if you worship Him by offering your bodies to Him as a living sacrifice, then you will know His will. In other word He will speak to you and you will listen and hear Him.  So how does God speak?

How God Speaks

Scriptures Wise council from other Christians Divine guidance or care through circumstances or life events Opportunities and blessings Closed doors The still small voice of His Spirit speaking to and through our conscience Nature and his creation Even your children

How To Listen

The first thing you should do is to redefine the word listen as it pertains to God. As you can see from the above list, few of them involve the physical sense of hearing through some audible way.  I think Christians mistakenly think or feel that God is going to always come in a loud thunderous voice that shakes the foundations of the earth every single time he speaks. Sometimes He does, but other times I think He’s asking us to press in closer to hear HimHe blesses us with whispering because it causes us to seek Him harder and longer. Listening in this way starts with caring.

How much do you contemplate the things of God?
How often do you find yourself thinking about His greatness?
How often are you thankful for the blessings He’s given you?

The more often you care about Him, thank Him for what He’s done for you, and contemplate Him, the more often you’ll hear him speak to you through the above list and even other ways for sure.

Worship Is A Lifestyle – Pursue It!

Worship is so much more than some songs that we sing before the preacher preaches. Worship is a lifestyle…it’s a host of characteristics and traits and actions all wrapped up into one concept that we call worship including: repentance, obedience, love, compassion and grace just to name a few. Brother Lawrence described it this way over 300 years ago in The Practice of the Presence of God. He says: “I keep myself in his presence by simple attentiveness and a loving gaze upon God – or to put it more clearly, an habitual, silent and secret conversation of my soul with God.” Buddy Owens sums it up perfectly this way: “That is… the secret to friendship with God.  Are you looking for God?  God is looking for worshipers.  His invitation to friendship is open and genuine.  Will you take him up on his offer?  Will you give yourself to him in worship?”

How To Live For God – 6 Practical Suggestions that Will Change Your Life

Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life

Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life

“The first and best victory is to conquer self”

Plato

I’m gonna start this post out today with a quick exercise.  Unfortunately for you it requires reader participation, but don’t worry, I’m not gonna ask you to stand and do jumping jacks or anything crazy.

Just do me a favor.

I’m going to say a phrase and I want you to think of just one word, phrase or thought when I say it…this is one of those first thing that comes to your mind kinda things ok.

Ready?

Here we go:  SELF DISCIPLINE.

Ok, now lock whatever word or phrase you came up with in your mind for a second.  Now I’m not going to ask you what your word or phrase was, but let me have you think about something…was the word or phrase you thought of positive or negative?

Now if you’re like most people, it was probably negative.  There are some exceptions to this of course, but as a general rule human psychology around the phrase “self discipline” is…well not so good.

Now do me one more favor.  As you read the kind of life I’m about to describe, try as hard as you can to picture this life being your own.  Picture it as graphically as you can including feelings, emotions, scents, sounds, activities and situations.  K, here we go…as you read, remember, this is YOU:

  • You experience complete freedom now in a way that you could only previously imagine; a freedom that literally leaves you utterly care free,
  • You unknowingly experience an increasing amount of humility on a daily basis,
  • You are aware of a fresh zest and exhilaration with living,
  • You are amazed at the stunning new confidence that marks your activities.
  • Fear, worry, and anxiety no longer have a place in your life.  On the rare occasion these feelings start to arise in you, you are able to bind them in the name of Jesus and restore peace that surpasses understanding almost immediately.
  • Although the demands on your life are as great as ever and seemingly intensifying, you live in a new sense of unhurried peace and tranquility.
  • You are now aware, on a nearly continual basis, of an intense and indescribable fellowship with God.
  • You are always seeing things in and around your life with an eternal perspective.
  • Your relationships are deep, meaningful and lasting.
  • You are used often and effectively by God to edify the body of Christ and reach the lost by breathing life, encouragement and hope into others
  • You are an inspiration to people around you, not because of you, but because of who you are in Christ.
  • You are a mighty warrior for Christ against the powers of darkness and the Evil One
  • You are able to tap into the unlimited power of God that lives inside of you at a moments notice and God uses you to accomplish the same miraculous things that Jesus did and “even greater things than these”.

Now I don’t know about you, but even as I was writing those things to you, from deep within me I longed for that kind of life.  And wouldn’t you say that the kind of life I just described is the farthest thing from something negative or bad as is possible?

Well I would submit to you that the kind of life I just described can ONLY come from true intimacy with God and a Holy Spirit led life that can only be attained through self discipline.

In other words, I hope you see today that the only way to enjoy the full Christian life God intended is through disciplined living.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (New Living Translation)
24 Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. 26 So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. 27 I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.

Recognize the Race & Your Part

Andrew MacLaren, a Protestant commentator, states, “There are few things more lacking in the average Christian life of today than resolute, conscious concentration upon an aim which is clearly and always before us.”

In other words, Christians today lack focus and direction

If you look at verse 24, you’ll see how Paul is telling us 2 important things.

  • You are in a race
  • You should want to win that race

I think people gloss over this when they read this passage (at least I did) but I think Paul is saying here to the Corinthian church is run the race of your life with focus and intensity.  Run it in such a way that second place is just not good enough.

In other words, don’t coast.

Dave Ramsey says that if you don’t tell your money where to go it won’t just stay put nice and safe in your account or wallet…it will go somewhere away from you!

Likewise, if your life isn’t focused on goals (the prize) and girded by underlying principles and values, Satan will literally steal your time away from God with busyness and steal your joy with stress.

The sad part of this is I’m not sure if Satan steals it or if we just hand it over to him by doing this.

Self Discipline Allows For True Transformation

So how do we prevent this?  Enter self-discipline.  Look at verse 25 with me. 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.

The New Kings James Version says it this way: “And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown”.

So thinking there may be more to this whole crown analogy than meets the eye and having a hard time imagining a shiny Heisman trophy like statue being awarded for first century champions, I researched it and found that the crown first-century athletes won was a laurel wreath typically worn on the head as an emblem of victory.

This is a wonderful parallel for the temporary treasures of this world that we attempt to reach.

You see a laurel wreath wilts in just a few hours. It would never be worn a second day.  The prize for us as Christians is the amazing gift of eternal life and living your God-given purpose while on the earth.

Consider the analogy of the runner used by Paul.  Serious athletes, runners included, follow extremely rigorous programs that dictate

  • rising early,
  • eating a restricted and carefully planned diet,
  • exercising intensely pushing his body to new heights with each passing day (some would call this torture too).
  • When not resting, fueling his body with the proper nutrition or exercising, he is meticulously working on honing his technique and skill or enhancing his endurance.
  • At the end of the day he goes to bed at a planned and precise hour as to ensure the proper amount of rest while ensuring he’s up early the following day to start again.

Throughout the runners day, day in and day out, he not only avoids sensuous indulgences, but he must also abstain from perfectly legitimate things that simply do not fit into his program or would threaten to crowd out some aspect of it.

You see the runner is not just concentrating with intense focus, planning and discipline while he’s running.  He understands his whole life impacts the race.

So with that understanding of the race we’re in and how we should be intensely focused on the prize, let’s look at what self discipline is and is not.

What Self Discipline Is

Now for the remainder of this post, I’ll be referring to self-discipline and self control synonymously.

Self-control is the 9th and last of the fruits of the spirit listed by Paul in Galatians 5:22 –23.  Let there be no doubt, even though it is listed last, at the importance of self-discipline to living the empowered Christian life.

In that passage, “self-control” (temperance, KJV) is the translation of the Greek word enkrateia, which means

  • possessing power over oneself,
  • strong,
  • having mastery or possession of ones desires and impulses.

Along with the idea or understanding of discipline, there is also a notion of moderation and soundness of mind associated with this word.  So of course, it would stand to reason then that self discipline is going to keep us from indulging in selfish desires or impulses that could be described as sinful.

But self-discipline is more than just avoiding sin though.  Is avoiding sin at all costs important?  Of course.  Sin separates us from the Father and pains Him greatly.  But merely avoiding sin in our life will not make us grow spiritually.

There is a proactive nature to our Christian living, which I believe Paul is pointing out in this passage and encouraging us toward.

Just as with the athlete above there are many legitimate things – things that would NOT be considered sinful – that distract our focus or weight us down so as to not run the best race possible.  These can be things that are so time consuming or mind consuming that they literally pull us away from or distract us from our goal.

Again, we must first look at what our aim and goal is in this life, the prize that Paul talks about, and then, through a deliberate and conscious set of actions and decisions, discipline ourselves to stick to the plan and win the race.

Now that we know what self-discipline is, let’s look at what it is not.

What Self Discipline Is Not

First it’s important to understand that self discipline is NOT a matter of you willing to be perfect; true self-discipline is a fruit of the spirit not an outward result of your trying harder.  So for example, plants don’t produce more fruit from trying harder.  Transformation is Gods job, ours is to place ourselves in the soil and let the Holy Spirit change us.  This is what Paul is telling us in Gal 6:8; 8The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature[a]will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

You see a farmer is powerless to actually grow grain…all he does or can do is provide the right conditions for the growing to occur.  He prepares the ground, plants the seed, and cultivates the ground waters the seed for sure, but then the natural forces over which he has no control take over and up comes the grain.  This is the way self-discipline will help you sow to the Spirit.  The discipline itself gets you to the soil and puts you in a place where God can transform you as He sees fit.

Also, self discipline is NOT a collection of laws or rules that are used to imprison us.  This one is important…self discipline taken too far or perverted, turns into the truly ugly monster of legalism.  Now we could spend a whole lifetime of posts on the topic of legalism…but suffice it to say legalism brings bondage and leads to death.

So hopefully if I’ve done my job…even a little, you will be asking yourself where and how to get started with more disciplined living especially as it relates to your faith and walk with Christ.

Where Do I Start With Disciplined Living?

Well the first place to start is a thorough study of the Spiritual Disciplines – 3 of which are the discipline of study, the discipline of meditation and the discipline of prayer.   Through these disciplines you can begin praying for the Holy Spirit to direct you into further discipline and change in your life.  I HIGHLY recommend Richard Foster’s book on the spiritual disciplines called Celebration of Discipline.  It’s a classic and also rated by Christianity Today as one of the top 3 books of all time outside of the Bible.

If you’re looking for someplace to start, start there.

Here are some other practical suggestions:

  • First and foremost, pray about your level of discipline across all areas of your life and ask God to show you were you could stand to tighten your belt a bit.
  • In all areas of life, begin to try to live in a spirit led way more often.  The goal is not perfection at all costs here but we are modeling the only perfect life ever lived which of course is Jesus who clearly said this about Himself: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does” In John 17:4 Jesus prays to the Father “I have shown your glory on earth; I have finished the work you gave me to do.” Make sure you finish what God wants YOU to do on this earth!
  • Take a class or speak to your pastor about learning how to find your gifting if you’re not sure of what it might be.  This is so you can learn how God has uniquely gifted you and to how He intends you use that gift in your life.
  • Don’t get caught up in the discipline itself but in placing yourself daily where God can transform you (remember once your in the soil, the Holy Spirit takes over, but your job is getting yourself to the soil).
  • Don’t get discouraged at failure or setbacks; this is a lifelong process and behavior pattern you’re after. Setbacks may come, but don’t let the enemy take you out of the race by quitting.

In conclusion, let me just say this; I believe with every thread of my being that many Christians unknowingly miss out on Gods best for their lives and that’s sad indeed.  But I believe there is something much more profoundly sad than that.

Bill Johnson of Bethel Church in Redding, CA once said this: “Jesus certainly didn’t die that awful death on the cross so we could go to church and tithe”.  In Jesus’ last words to his disciples He told them this: “I speak to you as my friends, and I have told you everything that my Father has told me. You did not choose me. I chose you and sent you out to produce fruit, the kind of fruit that will last. Then my Father will give you whatever you ask for in my name”. How sad indeed would it be for the people who call Him Lord of their lives to completely miss knowing Him on an intimate level and accomplishing all He wanted them to.

Leo Tolstoy once said, “Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself”; let’s make sure He is able to use us to whatever capacity He desires to bring life and hope to a lost and dying world, Amen?

So change the world by starting with yourself!

Protected: 2009 – A Year Of Change Alright…

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

How To Keep Christ In Christmas & Joy In Your Life

Keep Christ In ChristmasA daycare teacher in Stone Mountain, GA was reading the story of Jesus’ birth to her children one morning. As usual, she stopped to see if they understood.
“What do we call the three wise men?” she asked.
“The three maggots,” replied one bright 5-year-old.
“What gift did the Magi bring baby Jesus?” she corrected.
“Gold, Frankensteins and smurfs!” the same 5-year-old replied.

Well, that little girl may have been a tad bit off in her understanding of the Christmas story…but let me ask you a question.

What do you think of when you hear the word Christmas? We’re talking “first thing that comes to your mind” type of thing.

For many it might be the modern customs of Christmas that include gift-giving, Christmas carols, an exchange of greeting cards, church celebrations like this one, a special meal, and the display of various decorations; including Christmas trees, lights, and garlands, mistletoe, nativity scenes, and holly.  In addition, many of our brains instantly conjure up images of that jolly old fat man in the red suit known by millions as Santa Claus.

But let me ask you this (and answer truthfully cause GOD knows if you’ve been bad or good)!  When I said the word Christmas, did any of your minds instantly think of worship?  I won’t ask for a show of hands, but I’m guessing most of you didn’t.

The word Christmas originated as a compound word meaning “Christ’s Mass”.  So as not to assume anything, let’s look at some definitions shall we?

Mass refers to celebration or adoration of God.  Adoration means an act of worship or profound love or regard.  And profound means “coming as if coming from the depths of one’s being” and also penetrating beyond what is superficial or obvious”.

So let’s look at Christmas in it’s literal meaning.  Based on the above meanings, the Koeppe abridged dictionary defines Christmas as a time when we should “celebrate and worship Christ by showing him love that comes from the depths of our soul or being and penetrates beyond what is superficial and obvious”.

How’s that for a definition of Christmas?  Does Christmas have any different meaning to you now?

As I asked God what I could leave you with in this post that might be lasting and meaningful, some of you may not be surprised that His response was to talk to you about authentic worship.

After all, what was the FIRST thing the Magi did after their long journey to find Jesus?  The worshiped Him.

Then they gave baby Jesus the Frankensteins and Smurfs!

But seriously, the Bible says that they saw the young child with Mary, his mother, and “fell down and worshiped Him”.

We’ve all heard the well-meaning phrases that remind us where to focus our energy and attention during this season like “Jesus is the reason for the season” or “keep Christ in Christmas”.  These are great, simple reminders of what we ought to be doing during the Christmas season.  But after the guilt subsides, have you ever stopped and asked yourself HOW do we do this?

No doubt you’ve also heard some of the attempts at putting action to these ideas, such as:

  • donating toys as a family,
  • helping serve in a soup kitchen,
  • singing carols in a nursing home or
  • just reading the Christmas story from the bible in your home on Christmas eve or Christmas morning.

All of these are great suggestions but they all have one thing in common; they are all expressions of worship.

You see worship, as many of you know is much more than just the singing in church that happens before the message.  As many of you have heard me say several times, worship is a response to the love that God first showed us.  All of the above examples, when done in the right spirit are examples of God’s people worshiping Him.

So instead of JUST giving you more examples of things to DO during the Christmas season (although I will try to do that), I thought I’d share with you a passage of scripture that lays out a detailed blueprint of HOW to keep Christ in Christmas.  It’s a blueprint of how to worship God.  And as we see how to worship the Lord more authentically, I hope you’ll see that genuine worship is the only real way to keep Christ in Christmas and joy in your life!

Psalm 105 can be one of those passages that you read over quickly as I have done in the past and in doing so, miss most of the gold nuggets buried deep within it.

I don’t have nearly enough time to fully dig into and pull out all that you can from these simple, yet profound verses, so I encourage you to study these verses with a dictionary handy and really THINK about and meditate on their meaning in your quiet times with the Lord.  But I can at least get us started in the right direction here in this post.

So here we go:

Now there are a lot of verbs in this passage, so read it out loud if you’re able to right now.  If not, just read it silently and emphasize the verbs.  I’ve added emphasis on the verbs to make it easier for you, OK?  Here we go:

PSALM 105:1-5
1 GIVE THANKS to the LORD, CALL ON his name; MAKE KNOWN among the nations what he has done.
2 SING to him, SING PRAISE to him; TELL of all his wonderful acts.
3 GLORY in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD REJOICE.
4 LOOK to the LORD and his strength; SEEK his face always.
5 REMEMBER the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced,

Give Thanks

So let’s start with GIVE THANKS

Worship starts by saying “thank you” and so should Christmas.  Psalm 100:4   4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.  As you thank God you begin to recognize who God is, not only in your life, but in all of Creation.

Thank Him for:

  1. Sending Jesus to be born into that lowly manger and stepping down from the light of heaven into the darkness of this world
  2. For humbly coming to the earth He created and becoming poor for love’s sake
  3. For paying the price we couldn’t pay by sending His perfect and only Son to die on that cross and loving us while we were still sinners
  4. For His mercy; for being naturally inclined or disposed toward mercy as we’re concerned.  For knowing us intimately and loving us anyway.
  5. For all the things He’s kept from you or kept you from.  Have you ever stopped to think about all the accidents and tragedy that He has kept from your life that you never even knew about?  In light of that, we ought to at least thank Him for the ones we DO know about!
  6. The list goes on and on…

ACTION STEPSThere’s a reason Thanksgiving comes before Christmas!  So the action step here is to:

  • Spend the month between the two holidays thanking God each and every day for something He’s done for you, to you, through you, in your life or in the life of others.

Call On His Name

Next we are to CALL ON HIS NAME.  What does it mean here to call on His name.  I found out it literally means to call forth; summon Him into your situation; call to mind by naming.  His name tells me who He is; his actions tell us what His character is and that reveals His name.  For example, God is a:

  1. Provider – you provided and now I call on you to provide for me
  2. Savior – you saved me and now I call on you now to save me
  3. Healer – physical, emotional and spiritual healing
  4. Comforter – peace that surpasses understanding

ACTION STEPS

  • So during Christmas (and really every day of your life but especially at Christmas get togethers and events) make sure you summon Him or call Him forth into your gathering, event or situation.
  • Bring Him into your family as you celebrate Christmas with all those traditions we spoke about.
  • Summon God into your family room when you put the tree up as a family (and don’t be a dork like me and let work or busyness keep you from doing this as a family…enough said on that one)
  • Call on His name as you gather with family for a special meal
  • Call Him forth as you read the Christmas story from the bible on Christmas morning BEFORE opening presents

MAKE KNOWN among the nations

Finishing up verse 1 it says to MAKE KNOWN among the nations what He has done.  This is simply your testimony; tell people what God has done for you.  And who should we be telling?  The nations, in other words this is not in the church, but the unsaved, the world, the nations.  I LOVE what 1 Peter 3:15 says…

1 Peter 3:15
“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect”
ACTION STEPS
Keeping Christ in Christmas is a heart thing.  It’s an attitude of the heart.  But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.  Then it says ALWAYS be prepared to tell your story.  You can do this as you take some of the actions we mentioned before such as:

  • donating toys,
  • serving in the soup kitchen or
  • singing carols to the sick,

But you can also do this in your every day life.  Pray for more opportunities daily to share your hope, your story, your good news to someone who doesn’t know Christ!

SING to Him, SING PRAISE to Him

Verse 2 starts by telling us to SING to him, SING PRAISE to him;

Remember how I said to call on his name earlier meant to summon or call forth?  The word sing here means to sing forth; to send His praises into your situation.

There’s something powerful about singing into your situation that sends a weapon – think of it like an arrow or a bullet – directly into your situation and the just destroys the enemy.  I’m telling ya Satan hates this…

There are many examples we could give here, but when the people of Israel were facing a vast and overwhelming army, they sent the choir ahead of the army.  In 2 Chronicles 20 it says:

2 Chronicles 20
“the king appointed singers to walk ahead of the army, singing to the Lord and praising him for his holy splendor. This is what they sang: “Give thanks to the Lord; his faithful love endures forever!” 22 At the very moment they began to sing and give praise, the Lord caused the armies… to start fighting among themselves.”

The people never had to fight; enemy turned on themselves “at the very moment” they started to sing.

ACTION STEPS
So application here is easy. As those old familiar Christmas carols start popping up on your radio stations and in stores,

  • sing into your darkness,
  • sing into your sadness,
  • sing into your blessings
  • sing into your family
  • sing into your Christmas

NOTE: As a special note to anyone who might be suffering adversity during the holidays or has some painful memories that surface during this time of year, let me encourage you with this; praising God in times of adversity or great sadness makes the serpent swallow itself. You want to heap destruction and devastation on the enemy?

Praise God when you’re hurting.
Praise God when your sad.
Praise God when you’re at your lowest.
Praise God when you aren’t quite sure if you can take that next breath…take it and sing! God will give you another one.

Verse 2 ends by encouraging us to:

TELL of His wonderful acts

The word “tell” here means to talk with deep pondering.  Not just light conversation.  This is the kind of talk you have around the table with friends and family, or on long walks.

ACTION STEPS

  • Make it a part of your regular conversation
  • Write the word of God on the tablet of your heart and tell people of His amazing acts from the bible.
  • As you tell of His wonderful acts, it builds your faith and faith of those who hear it

Then look at verse 3 and how this next phrase starts…

GLORY in his holy name

What does it mean to glory in the lord?  I often read over “religious” sounding terms in the bible that I think I know the meaning of and then realize when I slow down that I have no idea what the true meaning of a passage is until I slow down and ask good questions. So what does it mean?

It means to boast; to boast in the name of the Lord.  Let your worth be found in who He is and who you are in Him.  Let’s look at what it says about this in Jeremiah 9.

Jeremiah 9:23, 24

23 Thus says the LORD: “ Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom,
Let not the mighty man glory in his might,
Nor let the rich man glory in his riches;
24 But let him who glories glory in this,
That he understands and knows Me,
That I am the LORD, exercising loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the LORD.

ACTION STEPS
So this Christmas when you’re boasting, make sure to always glory in the name of the Lord.  Real quick, let’s look at some names of the Lord.  You may have heard these, but I just want to give you an idea of their meanings.

  • Elohim – Creator (He is what all of nature is trying to describe), Ruler (King of Kings), Absolute force (all powerful), Sovereign – Ephesians 2:10
  • El Shaddai – The Almighty Provider – Psalm 77:15, Psalm 68:35
  • Adonai – Lord, Master – Psalm 123:2
  • Jehovah – God of Justice, Holiness and Love

LOOK to the Lord

Next we’re called to look to the Lord.  I love how Buddy Owens puts it in his book The Way Of A Worshiper, “Set the gaze of your soul on your saving God”.

We look at His strength; through him we can accomplish all things.

ACTION STEPS
Look on His strength not your own this Christmas.  Through Him you can endure tests and resist temptation.

  • Gaze upon God; think about the manger scene as you’ve seen it hundreds of times before, but add the human dimension…these are real people.  Now make it personal…place yourself in the scene.  If you’re a man, imagine yourself as Joseph or one of the Magi, if you’re a woman imagine being Mary and all that she had been through over the last 10 months.
  • Gaze upon God’s strength for help Enduring (tests, trials, persecution and hardship)
  • Gaze upon God’s strength for help Resisting tempation (to boast in what you have, spend too much)
  • Set the gaze of your soul on the saving God for all you need or lack this Christmas who sent his son to be born into this world for the sole purpose of paying the price we couldn’t pay

There is a big difference between looking at something and seeking after it as we see with the next phrase…

SEEK his face

So what’s it mean to seek.  Seek His face; seek His favor;

It means to pursue it, to go after it, to try to locate or discover; search for; to endeavor to obtain or reach; to go to or toward; to inquire for; to request.

ACTION STEPS

  • Don’t be satisfied with where you are with your relationship with Christ.  Ask him to enrich it and strengthen it this Christmas.
  • If you don’t know Christ as your savior receive the best gift anyone could ever give you, the gift of salvation.  It’s a free gift and it’s an amazing gift, but you have to seek after it.

REMEMBER the wonders he has done…

And finally the last verb in the passage calls us to remember the wonders he has done…his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced. This goes back to where we started by making known the things he has done and telling of his wonderful acts.  Remember the miracles He has done and the judgments He pronounced.

Psalm 78 speaks to the power and importance of remembering and not forgetting in many places and starts by saying:

Psalm 78:3-7
3 I will utter hidden things, things from of old- what we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us.
4 We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done.
5
He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our forefathers to teach their children,

6 so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children.
7 Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

ACTION STEPS

  • If you have kids, make sure to spend time this Christmas telling them of some of the amazing things God has done in your life and the lives of people you’ve known.
  • Also tell your family and friends of these things.
  • Remember this Christmas and don’t be like the men of Ephraim who forgot what he had done (Psalm 78 9-68).

Christmas.  What a wonderful time of year it truly is. It is a time when we should “celebrate and worship Christ by showing him love that comes from the depths of our soul or being and penetrates beyond what is superficial and obvious”.

It is a time filled with wonderful traditions and customs that bring families together and lift spirits.

But I pray that God shows each of us how to merge spirit and truth, authentic worship of Him into our Christmas this year and for all the years to come.

I pray that He will show you how he wants YOU to put it into action and that the things we’ve discussed here tonight are just the sparks that ignite your hearing from Him how He wants you to put it into action.

Most of all I pray that as you look for and seek Him that you find more of God in every day of your life…and what better time to start that seeking journey than Christmas 2009.

How To Hear From God – Hearing the Voice Of God

How To Hear From God - Hearing the Voice Of GodGod recently gave me an epiphany recently through a parenting analogy that I wanted to share here.

Have you ever told your kids to do something?

If you’re not a parent, try to remember a time when your parents told you to do something while you were engaged in something else…or your wife/husband for that matter.

Well if you’re a parent of a child old enough to be given an instruction, you certainly have.  Picture this:

Dad: “Hey Suzie, I need you to help me with a few things. First, can you pick up your toys in the family room and then I need you to go up to your room and put them away. Last, make your bed and straighten up your room.”

[Dad looks over and Suzie isn’t even looking at him]

Now dad may not realize it, but he’s not even gotten her attention at this point. Let alone communicated effectively for her to be able to take action. Even if she had been listening, she would have forgotten step 1 by the time he was halfway through step 2. So dad takes a new approach.

Dad: “Suzie, look at me”

[Suzie complies]

Dad: “I need you to pick up your toys.”

Suzie: “Ok dad”

Now what just happened here may not seem significant until you want guidance from your heavenly father. Did you see what the father in our example above did?  He got the girls attention, gave her one simple command and waited for her to comply before giving her the next step.  Let me explain.

Focus On the Next Step

I’ve become convinced that we often ask God to lay out the entire plan of something and He in His infinite wisdom knows we either can’t comprehend or take it all in and so I believe He revealed to me in my life a simple strategy for difficult times when we are crying out for the full answer or full plan and He doesn’t seem to be complying.  I believe sometimes He just wants us to focus on the next step.  Here’s what He told me to do recently:

  1. Look at me.
    So the first step for us to follow God is to pay attention to Him; to look at Him in our analogy above.  He wants our undivided attention and won’t clamor above the noise of our life to get it.  So how do you do this?  Read the word.  Write it on the tablet of your heart and meditate on it.  Internalize it, memorize it and in essence, make it a part of your core.  This is one of the most beautiful things about our Father; He wont force you into seeking after Him, but oh boy, when you do, He starts to work in your life, to refine you in the refiners fire and burn off those impurities and then that sets you up perfectly for step 2…
  2. Listen.
    Paying attention to God does you no good if you don’t listen to what He’s telling you.  To listen here I mean to hear whatever He has to say to you.  There are several ways you can do this such as meditating on His word, prayer and then times of silence to wait on Him to respond and sometimes even reading the word of God itself can be listening.  But the key is to not be making your own noise but to be waiting on God…listening for whatever method He may choose to communicate with you.  Oh, and one more thing on this one…listen with an open mind and heart.  Ask God to specifically show you the next step for you to take in any given situation…believe me He will.
  3. Obey.
    So you’d think the third part would be the easiest…but not so much.  I’ve often thought that I would have a hard time NOT obeying God if I knew clearly He had spoke and understood what I was to do.  To see God’s will brought to fruition in our lives we have to comply with His every request.  We have to be obedient and take the next step whenever and however He asks us to do so.  See here’s the problem.  We have to die to this thing called flesh every single day.  And if that weren’t enough, its our job to cue into Him by looking and listening.  Trust me, God hasn’t gone silent even when you may think He has.  He’s there waiting for us to seek harder, press in more, and show up.  So knowing His will and understanding His instructions seems to fall on our shoulders.  Then the hard part…at least sometimes; obeying Him…no matter the cost.

Let me illustrate this way.

“Dance with all your might as you worship me like David did”

But…but…me God?  Really?  You want me to…do what…dance for you?

“Yes dance” He says.

It’s in that moment you must decide; obey and possibly look foolish or disobey and miss out on His best (the good part as He told Martha and Mary) for you.  And not just for you…what we may think someone else will look at and view as foolish, may be looked at as inspiring and courageous and cause someone to be moved themselves.

Be Foolish & Get It Over With!

Oh and on the topic of being “foolish”, let me just say this.  If you’re afraid of looking foolish, then you ought to just look foolish and get it over with.  While reading a WONDERFUL book entitled Worship, by Joseph Garlington recently, he said we should consider this:

  • Noah must have looked pretty foolish building a massive arc to float on a worldwide flood and save humanity
  • Abraham had to look pretty foolish standing over his son Isac, knife in hand
  • Moses probably looked foolish sitting on a hilltop flanked by 2 guys holding up his arms while thousands fought to their death below
  • Hannah apparently looked foolish and drunk to Eli as she prayed fervently in the House of God
  • David looked very foolish standing in front of Goliath armed with a sling and 5 smooth stones
  • Mary definitely looked foolish when she became pregnant out of wedlock and
  • Joseph looked even more foolish when he agreed to marry her anyway
  • Jesus, when as a carpenters son, stood in the synagogue read a familiar passage from the scroll of Isaiah and said “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” looked foolish
  • Satan thought Jesus looked even more foolish the day he was stretched out on a roman cross between 2 crucified  thieves after claiming to be the Son of God…but he wasn’t foolish…He was doing the will of His Father!

In fact, all of them “appeared” foolish, but weren’t.  They were doing the will of their Father…and in doing so confounding the wise.

So I hope as you face whatever God has you facing right now, that the lesson He gave me might help you in your walk.  And even more than that, I hope that if faced with the choice of looking foolish for God or wise for the world, you’d choose foolishness every time and praise God that He gave you the opportunity to stand for Him!  Focus in on God, ask for and listen for that next step in your life or situation and then be obedient and comply with His request.

Be sure to share this or tweet it if you liked it!

Getting Closer To God By Learning How To Trust God

…Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. 3 And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure.

James 4: 2, 3

Have you ever been stirred deep within your spirit?

Now what I’m asking here is not the same thing as having a deeply emotional experience (either positive or negative), so getting jacked up at a conference where the worship and preaching were awesome doesn’t count.  No, I mean stirred to action; stirred to change; stirred to boldness like never before in your life?  And not in a way that brought guilt or shame either…but in an encouraging, uplifting and empowering way?

The answer for me was no…until about a year or so ago.  But in the last 18 months or so, I’ve been truly stirred deep within my spirit on at least 3 occasions, the first of which happened when I went to The Creation Museum with my family about as long ago.  Now, unfortunately, I can’t go into all that God did for me on that trip here, but suffice it to say that He gave me a MAJOR paradigm shift that day and it changed so many things such as my parenting, my foundational faith in the scriptures, and my view of the world that I live in to name a few.  BUT, it mainly caused me to realize that after 10 years at that point of following Jesus, I hadn’t pressed in very hard or close to my Lord  It caused me to want to make time where I hadn’t made time before to study and read my bible, pray and listen to God more.

Which was a great thing…God needed to stir me up a bit.

The next stirring of my spirit came when our friends showed us the videos that I wrote about in the Day 3 post which as I discussed in the post, caused me to want to take a closer look at the times and seasons in which we live and be a watchman.  And the 3rd time was shortly after that evening when those same friends brought over a movie called Finger of God.

If you haven’t seen the film, I HIGHLY recommend getting your hands on a copy and inviting as many Christian friends as you can fit in your living room to watch it.  At any rate, at one point in the movie, Darren Wilson (the director and creator of the film) goes to Redding, CA to show you what some kids at the Bethel Church and School of Ministry do for fun on a Friday night and I was blown away.  Now the whole movie is amazing and so while not taking anything away from the rest of the movie I was “stirred” when I saw what these kids were doing.  They get together, pray, ask God to show them where to go and give them words of knowledge or direction, then they write what they feel God has given them, compare notes and set out on a journey to pray for people’s healing, salvation and everything in between!  To see a snippet of this go to http://www.fingerofgodfilm.com/ and click on the fingerprint over California.

Why Don’t I DO This Stuff Too?

This stirred me to ask myself the simple question…if I believe, why don’t I do this stuff too?

So one afternoon my family and I along with some friends (same friends mentioned above and in know God more post and not long after that night actually) are on our way to enjoy one of my favorite treats, ice cream, at a local ice cream festival (pays to live close to the home of Velvet Ice Cream…apparently they have whole festivals to celebrate the stuff)!  My friend Dave and I were discussing the Friend of God movie and suddenly he says, “Hey, why don’t we all pray for opportunities to pray for people to be healed today while we’re at the festival!”  I must say, it’s a shame that I wouldn’t have thought of it myself, but I was glad he did and so we all prayed.

Now while I wanted to and believed God would answer this prayer, nothing could have prepared me for what happened next.  No one had eaten, and so that was the first order of business.  So we all stood in line forever and got our own greasy concoction and met up at a picnic table next to the main walkway in the festival.  There were two and only two spots remaining at the table when two ladies walked up and asked if they could sit there.  After they sat down, someone from our crew introduced themselves and asked their names.  This is where it gets cool.  The older woman of the two told us her name and her daughters name and immediately (literally they were the next words out of her mouth), began to tell us how her daughters husband had died recently and then she found out she had a terminal illness.  I know, if it hadn’t happened to me I might doubt it too, but indeed…it was real.  So we prayed.

Then we finished our meal, said our goodbyes to these ladies and began to walk around the festival.  I kid you not, we had taken only about 30 steps when we saw a life squad up ahead.  As we got closer, there was a woman in a wheelchair the medics were attending to, and so my buddy Dave and I reached out our hands and prayed for the woman while they finished up.  Later, Dave went back to the woman, asked if he could pray for her and when she said yes, he said the Holy Spirit was intense as he prayed for her.  She said she felt it and thanked him.

Do you trust Him....really?

Do you trust Him....really?

Reasons We Don’t Step Out In Faith

Now I tell you these stories to make a simple, but important point:  why don’t we ask God for more opportunities like that?  Why did I go through over 10 years of knowing Jesus before I finally prayed for God to move like that?  I would suggest 3 reasons Christians don’t step out in faith like that more:

  1. Haven’t Been Taught
    While it is true that very few churches actually “teach” practical ways to help you bring the rubber of your faith to meet the road of your life, I don’t believe this is the primary reason.  Also, here is that it hasn’t been modeled for us outside of scripture.
  2. Fear/Worry
    What will people think of me?  They’ll think I’m stupid or they’ll think I’m a weirdo or freak.  Ok, so I know this could be a big one, cause this requires boldness to the nth degree.  However, again, I’m not sure this is a ROOT cause of the problem but rather a symptom of the root.
  3. Lack of Faith/Trust In God
    That’s right, the one thing I would attribute most to not boldly going out and “doing greater things than these” as Jesus said we would.  I mean really, if we trusted him completely with “child-like faith”, wouldn’t we want the sick among us to be healed and His people to be set free from bondage and saved?  I’d say the answer should be YES!

I can tell you that even though I would not have wanted to admit it at the time, that is what held me back prior to this.  I did not have because I did not ask.  Now let me share one last thing from that scripture in James with you that blew me away.  First he goes onto say that “…even when you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” and then in verse 4 he continues with “don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. 5Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely?” and finally in verse 7 and 8 with “7Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8Come near to God and he will come near to you.”.

You MUST Make A Choice

Do you see it?  You can’t be sucked up in the activities, busy-ness, stuff of the world and have time, energy or fortitude to press into the things of God.  You must choose.  And when you do, “…He will come near to you”.  In addition, Matthew 7: 7 & 8 says:

7“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”

Then he follows that up with proof using us earthly fathers as examples saying, if your son asked for good things who among you would give him bad things (paraphrased).  I just love this picture of how richly He’s telling us He wants to bless us and how all we have to do is ask and He’ll give us all we can handle and more.

Christians Everywhere Need To Wake Up!

But with all this great news and inspiration to dig deeper into the things of God, let me close with a warning.  The very next 2 verses in Matthew (13 and 14) say this:

13“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

I truly believe we need to take hold of this and wake up as Christians in America today.  Maybe the missionary from India who told our pastor once that the USA was much harder to serve Christ in was right.  Are we too rich, too self-sufficient, too engrossed in us and not God to notice he wants us to be doing more of the super natural; realizing and walking in the spiritual gifts more?  I know I was.

So if you feel that way, let me ask a question; what must He do to wake you up and get your attention?

Small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life and only a few find it.  Don’t get lost in the world trying to find that narrow road and remember, he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

Know God More – How It Started

Knowing God More

How To Know God More

How I Started To Want To Know God More…And Why You Should Care

A little over 2 weeks ago, this blog came into being and my first post was born.  But if we go back a bit before then, it will help lay the foundation for what God has been doing in my life and how you can recognize it when He does similar things for you.

So about 6 months ago, give or take a month, we had some friends over to the house who were in the mortgage industry and we were discussing business among other things.  Now before I go on, you should know that prior to this point, I have not been one to care about financial matters enough to even know the basics of the markets, industries or anything else for that matter as it realtes to finances.  So given that backdrop, they share these amazing videos that they’ve recently seen and how we should watch them too…right then.

So being a sucker for drama and loving “a good God video” I obliged and hooked the computer up to my TV.  We all sat down and he played me this video (the video is broken up into small chunks to have them on YouTube so the video we watched is made up of the following videos):

Something Amazing Happened To Me

So what’s the short version of what happened to me?  I was deeply affected.  And the reason is because I have always clung to the famous statement in Matthew 24:36 when Jesus was discussing the signs of His “coming, and of the end of the world”: ”

But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” (Matthew 24:36)

But after watching this I became convicted not of the date of the return or even so much of the specific teachings here, but rather that God wants us to be watchmen.  He doesn’t want His church to be asleep as I had been.  And that most of all that I needed to wake up and start to treat my spirituality differently; take it more seriously, dig deeper with God and most of all, know God more than I did at that moment.

It was around the same time I started watching Perry Stone and became extremely interested in the Jewish feasts (diving appointments) and how much the scriptures seemed to come alive when you knew the customs, history and most of all the Jewish feasts and their meaning.  I realized how very little I actually knew about my Lord and saviour, the bible and the signs and times we lived in.

Time To Get Serious For God

It was then I made the decision to get serious.  I decided that there was no reason my DVR couldn’t be just as helpful for me to watch 24 and Lost as it was to watch Perry Stone, Sid Roth and John Ankerberg (just three shows I picked out that deal with the supernatural and prophecy).  It was then that I made the decision that set me down the road I’m on now.

Now if I’m being honest, I will admit that I got a tad bit attached to the dates mentioned above in the video and started speculating…not in a serious way but just “what if that’s when Jesus comes back” type of thing.  And it was distracting…mainly cause it caused me to look to Mark Biltz for more answers and Perry Stone and not to the Word of God.  But shortly thereafter I stopped worrying so much about the exact dates and more about being awake with my eyes wide open and that led me to another interesting passion/hunger.

Put simply, I wanted to know God more, to know more of God, to press into the things of the Lord and the Kingdom of God, to seek Him and to Find Him and for Him to find me!

Oh Man Did God Wow Me!

And ya know what I did, He did.  Example?  My buddy Dave and I go to a local festival together and before we get there, we pray for opportunities to pray for people and possibly to pray for physical or emotional healing.  Not more than 20 minutes after that prayer closed, we were at the festival sitting down to eat.  Two ladies (a mom and a daughter) sat down in the only two seats left around us and within 30 seconds after introducing themselves proceeded to tell us that the daughter had just lost her husband to cancer the week before and she was very sad and lonely.  WOW!

So we prayed for her, rejoiced in God and moved on down the fairway…only to find literally 5 minutes later a squad attending to a woman in a wheel chair about 100 feet ahead.  Again, we prayed for the woman and God moved and was powerfully present as we prayed for her physical healing, she was touched and we were astonished at God and how awesome He was to us.  Finally in that one day right after that, we saw a demonstration of a sheep dog hearding  (not sheep but chickens) and how they do it.  Too much to go into here, but suffice it to say, seeing it in action is very symbolic to our faith.

Now this is just one example and a very powerful one at that, but God started to move.  So you would have thought I would press in even harder right?  I wish I had.  Truth is, I let the world distract me and take me away from God, quiet times and devotionals and prayer more than I should have for several months.  My job started to consume me in more ways than one (not so much the actual work, but the stress of dealing with the company).

Finally, on June 5th, during a men’s retreat with my church and several of my close buddies, God worked on some stuff with me (too much to go into on this already long post, but things I will be sharing here).  Not the simplest and most basic of which was a journaling method for my devotional time and bible study time with God.  I LOVE it and have been using it ever since.  In doing the journaling, I started to formulate the idea for this blog and wondered would this be anything anyone else would even like to read or care about.

Now at the same time, I started attending a home group doing a study on the prophetic with a book and workbook called You May All Prophesy.  Very good book to teach you how God speaks, why prophesy is important and help you understand all the myths surrounding prophesy.  Another guy in the group also attended and was deeply affected by the mens’ retreat and we wanted a way to make sure we didn’t lose momentum with God and also to make sure we could hold one another accountable to some degree.  I told him about the idea for this blog, he liked it and WHALA, Live2Worship.net is born and the How To Find God, But Are You Looking post is up along with the Why Live2Worship.net page?

How Can All This Help You?

So why did I share all that.  2 reasons really.

  1. So that you’ll know, no matter what God chooses to do to me, for me or through me that less than a year ago I was just an average american who was too busy, too stressed, too broke and too passive, but Christian nonetheless.
  2. So that you’ll see how God prompted me to raise it up a few notches, how He blessed us when we stepped out so that you might know if/when He does that for you and what the appropriate response is (and not cause I always chose it).

Ok, this post was really long, but it gives you nice backdrop to all this that’s happening on a daily basis.  BTW, had some REALLY cool things shown to me by God last night, today and tonight.  Will be sharing those things really soon.  Till then..Live2Worship!