Thursday, January 28, 2016

Some muses on praying - part 1

Lately I've been "being confronted" (in a good and grateful way) with my Prayer life.  My sense of prayer has always been a struggle.  While I've grown in it, and love those times to sit with God's word and allow it to form my thoughts, give me insight into my heart, motives, attitude, etc...I knew that my prayers needed to grow much more than they have.

I started the year off with Tim Keller's devotions on Praying through the Psalms, and his book is on it's way as I take the time to read the Psalms and pray through them...it's a good discipline and while it might sound strange to someone who has never done it, it is a spiritual practice that is as old as the before Jesus walked the earth.

John Piper recently had an interview with Tim Keller on the practice of prayer...and I want to post some of what that Q&A with him looked like.  I hope it helps you also think about your prayers.

One more thing before the interview question.  Last night Linda and I watched the movie "War Room". It's a very powerful film because it focuses on the way Prayer enters into our closest relationships - and for many of us it's our Marriage. 
This movie is about a marriage falling apart until a wife takes the initiative to take time to pray - and what I mean is - takes time to sit down with scripture in solitude and let the word of God speak to her as she also speaks to God.  Over time it took her relationships to a completely different level, one that was at first seemingly going to dissolve, but ended up doing just the opposite.  I loved the movie...and I heartily recommend all of you - married or single - to rent it and watch and talk about it...it's powerful.

NOW...the first of ten posts with a Q & A time with Tim Keller:

Question 1: Prayerlessness

Q:  Among Christians today, how widespread is prayerlessness — and what does that reveal about our spiritual health?
A:  We know from empirical secular studies that everyone in our Western society today has less solitude. There is less and less of our days or our months or our weeks in which we are unplugged, when we are not listening to something or talking to somebody or texting. This is due to the pervasiveness of social media, the Internet, and various sorts of electronic devices. In the past, most people couldn’t avoid solitude. But now there isn’t any.
This is anecdotal, but everybody I talk to seems so busy, and is communicating so incessantly, and around the clock, that I do think there is more and more prayerlessness. There is less and less time where people go into a solitary place to pray. And I am sure that we are more prayerless than we have been in the past, and that says our spiritual health is in freefall.

Monday, January 25, 2016

A Monday Muse

Happy Monday morning again this 25th day of January.

I was asked recently how I viewed Mondays?  The responses I had to choose from were basically these:

1. Uughh!, 
2. Friday is so far away! 
3.I wished I was wealthy and didn't have to do this!  

I found the questions interesting, but in the end I selected as an answer:  

4. "A Fresh Start".  

I enjoy coming to the beginning of the week. This morning I was reading this:

Proverbs 8:22
22 “The LORD possessed me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of old.

What if we gave God our mind, heart, motives, attitudes, and also our thanksgiving...he possessed me at the beginning of his work...and he has work for me to do this week.
This changes everything including the way I pray. If I know that God is going to work in me, and that he has possession of my soul, body, spirit in ways that magnify any work I might do, well, that changes my outlook on anything and everything.



Peace!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Power over the Powerball?

It's Thursday my friends...and you woke up to realize YOU DIDN'T WIN THE POWERBALL...:)  Don't know what to tell you but if you didn't spend any money in the first place you haven't lost anything, and I hope you  STILL are happy!

I don't usually think a lot of Mark Cuban, but I think he nailed it:

"If you weren’t happy yesterday you won’t be happy tomorrow. It’s money. It’s not happiness."
Mark Cuban

True...and surprisingly, he agrees with Paul when he wrote to his young protege, Timothy:

1 Timothy 6:6-10
6  But godliness with contentment is great gain, 
7  for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 
8  But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 
9  But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 
10  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs. 

To be sure:  Money, he says, is not evil...it is simply the pursuit of money alone that can serve as a temptation to all sorts of evil.

Jesus reminds us:  Matthew 6:24 
24  "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.

It's one of those statements from Jesus that at first takes us back, until we realize what we've avoided by not winning that kind of money.  Our homes are quiet, our phones are still, and we don't have endless details and decisions to make.
It might be urban myth, but research shows that most lottery winners are broke in 5 years, and that when asked if it was worth the while, most say "NO".
In the end, I think there's something very satisfying about contentment...

PEACE

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Sometimes it seems so Hard

I was reading this morning one of the toughest passages (I think) in all of the Bible:
God tells Abraham to take his son, his only son, Isaac, and sacrifice him on Mt. Moriah.

It caused me to muse a bit about times of testing, and times when things seem to be so hard... First the text:

Genesis 22:1-2
1 After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.”
2 He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”

The story is so strange because at first it seems so NOT-God...but it is! Yet the story is so clearly a prophetic picture.

It is his "only son", and Mt. Moriah was the pinnacle spot of what would eventually be Jerusalem, and lastly, the words at the end show God's purpose in the test:

Genesis 22:7-8
7 And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”
8 Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.”

God will provide the lamb for himself...YES.

We often believe we’re all alone during those times of great difficulty, times of testing…but God is there, and he is going through it with us. 

Is it hard? Yes… Is it therefore a time to despair?  No…  It’s time to trust.

Remember Tom Hanks in "A League of Their Own"...it's where my thought for today on those times of testing when it seems so hard came to:

"Of course it's hard;
It's suppose to be hard.
If it would be easy,
everybody would do it. 

Hard is what makes it great!


Peace to you!

Monday, January 4, 2016

As We Begin 2016 - It's the first day back to Work

Monday, the first Monday in 2016...and you are probably diving into work - whether on the farm, in the office, on the road, or at home... the holidays are over and it is time to get back to work.

I don't know if it has ever hit you:
Work is sacred...
Work is God's provision...
Work is a way of making the world better...for yourself and others to prosper, and for you to understand that God wants to involve you.

Genesis 2:15
15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.

Every year I make a decision to do something that will last the whole year. After a couple of years away from it I'm going to read the through the Bible again. It's not that difficult to do if we understand that it is only 3-4 chapters of Scripture a day.

I'm reading the scriptures as a way of studying God's Word...and as a way of understanding God - the one who has given me my Work.

I have been reading and studying scripture for 45 years now.  I don’t pretend to know it enough so that I don’t have to keep working at it.  I love my work, and consider it a privilege and honor to have the ability to teach God’s word – and also a responsibility to do it well.

Those of us who have the privilege of teaching God’s word have a sacred responsibility. 

Do we realize that God will hold us to a higher standard when we tell others what God says in his word?

Do we understand that we speak forth either truth that will lead to freedom, or traditions that will not help anyone?

I love my work…and it doesn’t make any difference whether it’s as a teacher of God’s word, or as a farmer with cattle, an office worker filing or a technician fixing…and most of all, a parent who stays at home and raises children. 

We have a sacred duty to see that God is connected to our work.


What is your work? Whatever it is, do it with all your heart, "as unto the Lord"...as if you were working for one person - the Lord.