Monday, October 04, 2010
Sitting in the Houston Airport. Leave for India in about one hour. Going with Robbie Briggs, a friend from Dallas. Last fall, Dr. Joy George (President of the A.C.A.) invited me to join the seminary students on their mission trip in October. Right now the A.C.A. seminary students are divided up into ten groups on mission trips throughout India. Robbie Briggs and I will be joining one group in Kochin, India. This is a next step in my desire to continue to build relationships with these students and encourage them when they go out from the seminary to plant and pastor churches throughout India.
What will we be doing? I am not totally sure. The main thing Robbie and I want to do is to pray for and encourage the students. The students will be doing evangelism at a university in the city.. We are going to try to show a film called The Privileged Planet. They hope I will be able to attend and then let the college students ask me some questions. Scarey! Also, Dr, Joy's brother, Babu, has a church in Kochin. I suspect that I will get to preach and do some teaching during the week for their lay leader equipping classes.
That Robbie and I will be well received to be able to encourage and pray for the students.
That I will be a servant to the students, Robbie, and the church. (God has been convicting me lately of my need for some huge growth in the area of being a servant.)
That God will give me wisdom that is way beyond me for the film showing and question time afterward.
For God's encouragement to Vela and Nancy (Robbie's wife) while we are gone.
That I will not try to make anything happen. I will just hang out with Jesus and follow Him around to where he takes me.
That God will keep us both healthy.
Wednesday, July 07, 2010
Here we are at summer camp in Arkansas. This year’s theme is “Experiencing God in the Wilderness.”
What words come to your mind when you think of the wilderness?
The wilderness is referenced often in the Bible. It is described as land that is basically wild and sparsely inhabited or unfit for permanent human settlement. It may be desert, mountains, forest, or marsh. In some sense, man has been living in the wilderness ever since Adam and Eve got kicked out of the garden.
What experiences come to your mind when you think of the wilderness?
Here is how the Israelites felt when they were in the “great and terrible” wilderness as they traveled from Egypt to the Promised Land:
Then they said to Moses, “Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt? Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” Exodus 14:11–12
Often the wilderness feels like a place where God doesn’t seem to care, God doesn’t seem to be speaking, and God doesn’t seem to be in control and all is lost. Can you relate?
This week we are learning that:
The wilderness is all of life outside the garden…
a place where God cares for us and we learn dependence;
a place where God speaks to us and we learn to listen;
a place where God redeems us and we learn to believe.
Let’s pray together:
Lord, in the wilderness of my life today, help me to depend on You, hear from You and believe You for the impossible.
Friday, June 25, 2010
Last Saturday, my daughter Natalie married Matt. I performed the ceremony. I heard there were lots of bets on whether I could make it through without breaking down and crying uncontrollably. I made it! This is Natalie and Matt on their way to their get-a-way car.
One thing I always say in a wedding to the bride and groom is “God will use your tangible, touchable, physically present love for each other to give each other a more experienced awareness of what it means to be loved by God through Christ.” I got that line from The Marriage Builder written by Larry Crabb. I said this to Natalie and Matt. I really believe this and have experienced this in my own marriage.
I also experienced God’s love through our church before and during the wedding. A whole team of people transformed our Christian Life Center into a purple wonderland. (Natalie’s favorite color). A whole team of people worked alongside our caterer to cook and serve food. There were many other things. The most appealing aspect of it all was how people did all of this with such joy and a sense of being privileged to do it. Also, just seeing people who I know have busy lives at the wedding and reception gave me a great sense of thankfulness.
Thanks, Northwest Bible Church family and friends, for giving the Tombas a deeper experienced awareness of what it means to be loved by God in Christ through your tangible, touchable, physically present love for us the last few months during my daughter’s wedding.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace. Acts 20:24
“In 1962, Clare Boothe Luce, one of the first women to serve in the U.S. Congress, offered some advice to President John F. Kennedy. ‘A great man,’ she told him, ‘is one sentence.’ Abraham Lincoln’s one sentence was: he preserved the union and freed the slaves. Franklin Roosevelt’s one sentence was: he lifted us out of a great depression and helped us win a world war. Luce feared that Kennedy’s attention was so splintered among different priorities that his sentence risked becoming a muddled paragraph.”
I found this illustration from Daniel Pink's book entitled “Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us.” I am not trying to sell Pink’s book, but I am continually amazed how the people of the world go after the things of the world with intense drive and unfailing motivation. And I am continually concerned about the church of Jesus Christ (especially in a city like Dallas) and my own lack of vigor in going after the things of God, especially when I read the accounts of the early church and Paul's missionary journeys in the book of Acts.
This past Sunday, I said that Acts 20:24 was a good capture of Paul’s “One Sentence”. It helps us understand how he went through all he did knowing that prisons and hardships were facing him everywhere he went. It helps us understand his courage, his purpose, and his motivation. To get a quick view of the things Paul suffered read 2 Corinthians 11:23-28. What is your one sentence or what do you want it to be? Let us know by putting it on my facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/NeilTomba
Monday, April 26, 2010
1. If the church is retreating it is not because of the strength of the enemy. It is because our eyes are off the Bridegroom.
2.The greatest enemy of living for today is postponed obedience. Today is all you have.
3.The greatest enemy of walking by faith is fear. At the core, we fear that if we do what God wants we will have to give up something we really want.
4.Will you say, "Yes, Lord, no matter what?"
Let’s pray together this old prayer that came from Christian Quote of the Day on Sunday.
Fix my thoughts, my hopes, and my desires, upon heaven and heavenly things; teach me to despise the world, to repent me deeply for my sins; give me holy purposes of amendment, and [spiritual] strength and assistances to perform faithfully whatsoever I shall intend piously. Enrich my understanding with an eternal treasure of Divine Truths, that I may know thy will:
and thou, who workest in us to will and to do of Thy good pleasure, teach me to obey all Thy commandments, to believe all Thy revelations, and make me partaker of all Thy gracious
... Jeremy Taylor (1613-1667), Holy Living 
Monday, April 19, 2010
And he called ten of his slaves, and gave them ten minas and said to them, “Do business with this until I come back.” Luke 19:13
This is World Passion Week for Northwest Bible Church. This is the time of year we gather money for our corporate efforts to take the gospel to our city and around the world. It is one way we live out our value, “loving a lost and broken world.”
John Maisel (president of East-West Ministries) kicked us off yesterday by taking us through Luke 19:11-26 (The Parable of the Ten Minas). Here were his five key points as he challenged us with the thought that we are chosen by God for this time in history to be about the business of Jesus.
1.Jesus is the King.
2.We are Jesus’ servants.
3.Jesus owns the resources.
4.Jesus’ servants will give an account.
5.The task is clear. (Chase after the King and His kingdom agenda to proclaim the gospel).
Here’s a statement that John made that really hit me, “If you have a dream that Jesus is not the center of, you have the wrong dream.”
Let’s pray each day this week that we would embrace the five things John taught us from this parable. Let’s pray that each of us will take a faith promise card and pray, “Jesus, we want what you want.” Today, let’s also pray for East-West Ministries and John Maisel as he leads that work. You can learn more about East-West at http://www.eastwest.org/site/PageServer
Please check out our outreach program, our supported missionaries and what’s going on with World Passion Week at http://northwestbible.org/index.cfm?i=1636&mid=1000&id=283486
Thursday, April 01, 2010
“My Lord God I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that my desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope that I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
This is Emmet. Emmet (some friends’ baby) was born on March 20. His name is Hebrew for truth.
Here is some truth God hit me with this morning. I was praying for God’s help for my typical, many struggles. As I was praying for help, I thought about several recent conversations about suffering people in places Haiti, India, Pakistan, etc. The combination of these and maybe the Spirit brought this thought into my head, “Father in heaven, help me. I don’t even know how I need to be helped. Before your holiness and wisdom, I am truly like a child who doesn’t know what is best for him. I really don’t know how I need helped. So again I ask, Father in heaven, help me.”
Later today, I opened an email from a friend with this little story from the devotional, “Streams in the Desert” compiled by Mrs. Charles Cowman.
“See how the lilies of the field grow. “ Matthew 6:28
Many years ago there was a monk who needed olive oil, so he planted an olive sapling. After he finished planting it, he prayed, “Lord, my tree needs rain so its tender roots may drink and grow. Send gentle showers.” And THE Lord sent gentle showers. Then the monk prayed, “Lord, my tree needs sun, please send it sun.” And the sun shone, gilding the once-dripping clouds. “Now send frost, dear Lord, to strengthen its branches,” cried the monk. And soon the little tree was covered in sparkling frost, but by evening it had died.
Then the monk sought out a brother monk in his cell and told him of his strange experience. After hearing the story, the other monk said, “I have also planted a little tree. See how it is thriving! But I entrust my tree to its God. He who made it knows better than a man like me what it needs. I gave God no constraints or conditions, except to pray, ‘Lord, send what it needs - whether that be a storm or sunshine, wind, rain, or frost. You have made it, and you know best what it needs.
LET’S PRAY TOGETHER
Father in heaven, help me. I don’t even know how I need to be helped. Before your holiness and wisdom, I am truly like a child who doesn’t know what is best for him. I really don’t know how I need helped. So again, I ask, Father in heaven, help me.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Sunday, I preached from Mark 15:33-41—the death of Jesus. My outline was one long question. Here is it is:
No matter how foolish Jesus looks or you look, will you be close to the cross declaring Him the Son of God because of your intimate knowledge about His death?
One. The cross and the message of Jesus is foolishness to the world. To both Jews and Romans a cross was a disgusting instrument of cursing and death. At the time of Jesus people weren’t using them for decorations or jewelry. Surely they would look at us to today and think, “These people are creepy.” We should expect people to think that we are crazy for following.
Two. Mark tells us that the centurion who makes the great confession that Jesus is the Son of God was right in front of the cross. The very next thing he tells us is that the women were at a distance. And there is no mention of the disciples around at all.
Three. The confession that Jesus is the Son of God finishes what Mark introduced in chapter 1, verse 1 where he said, “This is the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Peter calls him the Christ in chapter 8 and now the centurion completes the description. To call Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God is an affirmation that He is God and He can claim that He is the way, the truth and the life and that no one comes to the Father but through Him. (John 14:6). It would have been hard to hear then and it is hard for many people now.
Four. The reason the centurion made the claim was because “he saw Jesus die.” He didn’t get the miracle of a resurrection or Jesus coming down and saving himself as the mockers requested.
Let’s grow in our understanding and appreciation about His death in order to keep declaring Him the Son of God even when people think we are crazy.
Friday, February 26, 2010
Boujar told me about the war in Kosovo. His family had to move from their home during the war. He could no longer attend his school. He used to go to school with other friends at a neighbor’s house.
I was again reminded of what a peaceful and safe life I have experienced here in the States. I was also impressed with Boujar’s thankfulness for the help his country received during the war and the opportunity he has had living in Rockwall, TX. Please pray for him as he visits his father who is ill.
The second picture is Shokhrukh (or Shawn). We sat together from D.C. to Frankfurt. He is an epidemiologist. He lives in Uzbekistan. He is like so many people I have met on international trips. When I asked him questions about his life and showed him some pictures of my life, he kindly invited me to visit him in Uzbekistan. He said we could go climb some mountains and do some fishing. He promised that if I came for one month he could show me the whole country. He also said I could bring one other person. Who wants to go?
Let’s Pray Together.
Father, thank You for the fun of traveling and maybe people from all over the world. Thank you for your common grace in things like warm houses and safety. Help us to be a thankful people as we consider not only your physical blessings but the help we have received in Christ.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free. Psalm 119:32
This is George. Recently, I was taking a picture of our gate. George heard me. He poked his head out and cried as I took the pictures.
Seeing George there reminded me of a conversation I had in December. I was walking at White Rock Lake with Ron Snell. Ron and I were talking about our desire to be in the game of life and not be spectators.
We talked about how easy it is to be spectators. We talked about conversations we have had with other men. We talked about how many of us end up stuck on our couches watching hours of television, or day dreaming about what we would do if we had more money, more time, better health, or wishing we had more discipline to act on any number of things.
I don’t want to be like George. I don’t want to be stuck in the backyard dreaming about running free or crying to be taken for a walk.
There are dangerous side effects when George doesn’t get regular walks and runs. He tends to store up energy and frustration. When George escapes, he ransacks the neighborhood. I cringed the time he was chasing someone in their yard. He thought they were playing as they were running from him. I also cringed the time Vela came home and screamed at me because a neighbor screamed at her as she was retrieving him from their yard. Have you noticed any of these side effects?
What do you do to keep from being like George?
Monday, February 15, 2010
This Sunday we looked at Mark’s account of Jesus’ suffering in the garden of Gethsemane. I said that my hope was that as we thought carefully about this account, it would help us to say, “Oh how he loves us” while in our own Gethsemanes.
Mark makes it clear that Jesus was facing not only physical death but the wrath of God for all sin. Jonathon Edwards said that Jesus was having terrible and amazing views and apprehensions.
Mark gives us a picture of Jesus “losing it” in response to these views of the wrath of God. We are given a picture of Jesus in more agony in the garden than on the cross. The emotional stress alone was about to kill him (14vs34). Jesus falls down (14vs35). Jesus asks for a way out (14vs36). He references “the cup.” The cup was the Old Testament image for God’s judgment against sin.
What do you think when you see Jesus stressed out? How do you feel when you see Jesus rolling in the dirt? What do you think when you hear Jesus asking for a way out of the very purpose that he stated was his reason for coming? How do you feel when Jesus says that he doesn’t want to drink the cup of the wrath of God?
I don’t think enough on the wrath of God for sin that Jesus faced. Can you imagine what it would be like to stand before God and to answer for every sin, crime, evil act, and injury in the history of the world that has been done against the millions of people that he created in his image and loves?
He tasted this in the garden and stayed to drink it all. He tasted the wrath of God that was going to come down on him at the cross. This makes going to the cross even worse. We know this. Think about a difficult or painful experience where you have said, “Wow, that was harder than I thought. I don’t ever want to go through that again.”
In response to all of this, Jesus said to his Father, “Yet not what I will, but what you will.”
Oh, how he loves us!
LET’S PRAY TOGETHER
Holy Spirit, give us power to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. Assure us that nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Jesus. In our suffering, comfort us with this love. Strengthen our resolve to do what Jesus wants no matter how difficult, no matter what the cost, and no matter what kind of response we receive from others. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Enclosed is a devotional from Jesus Calling that particularly touched me this morning and is one in which the Lord has been continually showing me as it goes against my nature of wanting to control, direct, figure things out, plan and be in charge. I continue to get the same message of "Be still and know"; "Rest in me" and "Trust me". As I am learning to surrender myself to Jesus, may I be able to trust Him for everything...today and tomorrow...knowing he has a perfect plan and he will show me the way. I pray that He would help all of us trust Him more and know Him more as we wait to see what He is going to do. Have a great week, Salli "
Follow me one step at a time. That is all I require of you. In fact that is the only way to move through this space/time world. You see huge mountains looming, and you start wondering how you’re going to scale those heights. Meanwhile because you are not looking where you are going, you stumble on an easy path where I am leading you now. As I help you get back on your feet, you tell me how worried you are about the cliffs up ahead. But you don’t know what will happen today, much less tomorrow. One path may take an abrupt turn, leading you away from those mountains. There may be an easier way up the mountains than is visible from this distance. If I do lead you up the cliffs, I will equip you thoroughly for that strenuous climb. I will even give my angels charge over you to preserve you in all ways. Keep your mind on the present journey, enjoying My Presence. Walk by faith, not by sight, trusting Me to open the way before you.
Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence is a daily devotional written by Susan Young.
Thursday, February 04, 2010
In recent years I have heard a focus on living for Christ today that downplays our future hope of heaven. I think this is one of our many evangelical pendulum swings. Peter reminds us that we bless God and rejoice greatly in the worst of days here on earth because of a future prize God has guaranteed for us in Jesus. This morning I was convicted as I read this passage because I don’t spend much time meditating on the awesome, wonderful, crazy, amazing future God has in store for me.
I know how to meditate on future things. Every time I plan a future trip to Colorado, it happens. I buy a topographical map of my destination area. I plan and re-plan daily hikes. I talk to friends who know more about the area than I do. I read trip reports on the internet. I gather all my information in a manila folder to take carry with me. When I am doing all this, I lose track of time. I forget about other things. My mind and heart get caught up in daydreaming. Sounds obsessive.
Peter writes to believers who have lost friends, homes, and families. He tells them they can be so captured by the future that they can sing, “Blessed be Your name.”
LET’S PRAY TOGETHER:
Take a few moments to meditate on what you know about your future in heaven as revealed in God’s word.
Monday, February 01, 2010
This Sunday we examined the story of the woman who anointed Jesus in Mark 14vs1-11. After talking about the historical context I asked the congregation for the words they would use to describe the woman’s worship of Jesus. Here are the words we came up with this Sunday and from Facebook this past week:
sacrificial, unconditional, inappropriate, lavish, costly, abandoned, frivolous, crazy, adoration, courageous, fearless, reverent, extravagant, intimate, public, fully invested, trusting, illogical, humble, personal, aromatic, scandalous, worthy, extravagant, vulnerable, unrestrained, abandoned, whole-hearted, purely focused, Spirit-led, genuine, selfless, naked, unsafe, undignified, irresponsible, insightful, free, not practical, spontaneous, complete, her best, her all.
However we describe this, we should take note. Jesus called it beautiful and said the story will be told wherever His story is told!
Which of these words would you use to describe your worship of Jesus?
Which of these words would others use to describe your worship of Jesus?
After 29 years of walking with Jesus, it has never been more clear to me that I cannot just force or discipline myself into this kind of worship. So why did she have it? Jesus not only said that her worship was beautiful but he also told why she did it. “She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial.” Mark 14:8. This woman, who John tells us was Mary, to some degree understood that Jesus was going to die. Mary had gained this insight from doing what any of us can do today, she regularly sat and listened to the words of Jesus. I believe she worshipped in this way because she was undone by the love and death and Jesus.
Let’s Pray Together.
Jesus, help us to sit at your feet daily through the reading of your word and listening to your Spirit. We confess that there are many good things that keep us from the best thing of spending time with you. Give us power to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is your love for us. Give us greater insight into all that you went through on our behalf in your death. Make us worshippers that cause you to say, “This is a beautiful thing you have done for me.” Amen.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
He calls them stupid. Other translations say brutish, lost their senses, dull-hearted, and stupid as cattle. This is rather harsh especially when I consider that our mothers said that it isn’t polite to call people stupid. It seems that God puts aside politeness in his message to the leaders of Israel who did not seek him. What a sad commentary on the impact of their lack of seeking the LORD—they do not act wisely and the people they are responsible for have been scattered.
Frankly, this verse just scares me. It scares me when I see how easily I am distracted from seeking the LORD. I read the sports page carefully every morning I get a chance. There is always some good sports on TV especially with cable. It scares me when I think about the people I am responsible for. I scares me when I think of other places in the Word that talk about accountability for leaders. I don’t like the thought of being a dumb cow sitting at a desk figuring out what to preach on. If I was an artist, I would make a Far Side cartoon of church leaders all looking like cows sitting around making decisions thinking they are brilliant.
This passage also encourages me. It encourages when I realize I am not God and even if I was the smartest person in the world, the best leader, the greatest visionary, the most effective strategist there is no guarantee that the people of God would truly prosper. It encourages me knowing that the we have an option other than stupidity. Many verses contain unrestricted promises of God for those who seek him. Guarantees that he will give wisdom, he will be found, he will be strength, he will give joy, he will prosper. It is astounding.
Do I live as a man with this intense sense of calling from God that involves leading and seeking Him? Or am I casual about my business as shepherd—spending a little time in prayer and the scripture here and there, working my relationship with Him around a busy schedule like I do with the less important people in my life, making decisions by talking with friends for hours and sticking a one minute prayer on the front end or back end, constantly reading books and listening to seminars about leading but not going to the Source as if I really believe he has something “practical” to say about his flock? LORD Jesus Son of God have mercy on me a sinner.
Would you pray for me and our church leaders today?
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Before Jesus tells the rich young ruler to go sell everything, Mark informs us that Jesus looked at him and loved him. I often imagined this story differently. I imagined the man walking away with Jesus longingly and lovingly looking at him. Jesus may have done that. However, this wasn’t just love that felt sad for them man as he walked away. This was loved that caused Jesus to say, “Go sell all that you have and come follow me.”
However difficult or dangerous Jesus’ call may seem, it is not born out of harshness but out of love. Jesus wanted this man to know the reality of “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus desire was not to lead the man to sadness but to blessedness. Oh, how He loves us!
When we pray, “Jesus, we want what you want,” know that whatever He asks, and wherever He leads, is born out of love.
LET’S PRAY TOGETHER
Jesus, help me to believe that in Your every leading and Your every command, Your perfect love is at work. I pray that perfect love will cast out fear in my life. I want to follow You fully and freely. Jesus, I want what You want.
Sunday, January 17, 2010
There is something powerful about our words and voice. Think about this: how many of you don’t like to hear yourself on a recording? Have you ever thought about why? Maybe this is the reason—your voice is so close. It is your very breath. It comes from deep within you. It exposes us. It exposes us when we are tense. It exposes us when we are afraid. It is why public speaking is so scary, we feel totally exposed.
Do you know that when you speak you are sending out sound waves? Those sound waves touch and impact people in a way as real as when you take your hand and grab someone. Those sound waves resonate in you and go out to create resonance in others. It is part of the reason why our voice and words can pack a powerful punch.
Of all the human attributes that God uses to describe Himself, perhaps the most used is the picture of God having a voice and breath and words. It comes out loud and clear at the very beginning of the Bible. Genesis 1 says over and over again, “Then God said.”
2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All scripture is God-breathed.” We believe the Bible is the recorded voice of God delivered through the work and personalities of human authors. This is why I am believing that in 2010 we (individually and corporately) have the opportunity to be closer to Jesus as we join together to daily read through the New Testament this year. If you haven’t checked out the plan or want to join with us go to http://www.northwestbible.org/read-listen-respond
LET’S PRAY TOGETHER
God, consume us with longing for your word. In Jesus Name.
Friday, January 15, 2010
Also, I am calling us to begin to pray for wisdom for what Jesus wants for us in terms of involvement in future waves of caring. As with Katrina, we saw that things like this get a lot of publicity at first. But as the days and weeks go on, people and pain are forgotten as we go back to our own overcrowded lives.
I invite you to come to come to a special meeting at 5:00pm this Sunday in the CLC to pray for the people affected and those on the ground giving aid and also to share ideas of how we can come together for a second wave of care. Ken Fifer and other members of the Outreach Committee will host this time.
Right now you can go to www.northwestbible.org and click on the Outreach link to see a list of ministries and organizations that are taking donations to aid the people and relief efforts in Haiti if you are interested in giving a personal gift. Let’s join together to reach out to this lost and broken part of the world with the love of Christ.
Monday, January 11, 2010
I am the kind of person who likes to figure things out. I want to know how things work. I want to know what causes things. I want to be able to trace things to their source. Vela laughs at me constantly about this. I have asked her not to but she still does. Last Friday and Saturday my stomach was hurting. When it was really bothering me, I would say things like, “I think it was the fish I ate for lunch,” or “the salad I ate for diner,” or “the vitamins I have been taking.” Vela just kept rolling her eyes. I think one time, she said, “You drive me crazy.”
So how does this relate to faith?
I have noticed this need to figure things out can be a faith killer. I have noticed that in my time with the LORD when I come across a promise in scripture, my FIRST response is, “Okay, how does that work?” I immediately go into the mode of thinking theologically and biblically. Okay, God says this here…but how does that relate to other scriptures…and how does that relate to other big theological themes, etc. A good thing. However, not the best first response.
For example, Jesus says, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you.” I read this passage (Jn. 15:7) Monday, November 30. My normal first response is, “Okay, now I know James says you have not because you ask with wrong motives. My selfishness is pretty strong. Can I be sure I won’t be asking with wrong motives, even if I am remaining in Him? If I ask God to work supernaturally at Northwest Bible Church what will that look like? Do I need to be careful not to just look for the big stuff, etc?” Actually, these are healthy questions we all ask and need to ask at times. It’s just not the best first response.
The first response God is looking for is, “I believe! God, I believe Your promise. I will act on Your promise. I will pray according to Your promise.” The first response is to believe, not to figure out. What do I know of Holy? His ways are not my ways. His understanding is inscrutable. I know that part of me is wired to try to figure things out, to want to be theologically accurate. I want to spend more time on the front-end saying, “I believe,” and boldly asking God for His supernatural work in my life, in our church, in our city and the world.
What fears or insecurities hold you back or tempt you to figure things out on your own rather than dive in by faith?
Wednesday, January 06, 2010
Then Jesus got up early in the morning when it was still very dark, departed, and went out to a deserted place, and there he spent time in prayer.
I was reading this yesterday morning when it was still dark. It’s helpful to remember that Jesus was fully human. He had long days. He was surely tired yet found it needful and desirable to get up to meet with His Father. Even in meeting with God, He had real choices to make about getting up and making time just like us.
LET’S PRAY TOGETHER
Jesus, we are comforted that You know the weakness of our flesh. Help us as we endeavor to meet with You daily as we read Your Word. Open our eyes that we may see wonderful things in Your Word.
Monday, January 04, 2010
But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.
Several years ago I decided to commemorate turning 40 by running all the way around White Rock Lake. That’s 9 miles. Although I was logging in some serious miles on my bike during that time, I would jog about 2 miles once a week on a good week. I enlisted my friend Joe who runs around the lake regularly to join me. So on the 4th of July, mid morning with the sun up, I slogged my way around White Rock Lake. If Joe had not been there I would have quit at the 3 mile mark. It was drudgery. Don’t try this at home.
After the summer, I began a proper running program where I slowly built up to running around the lake. It required the discipline of running consistently three times a week. I was surprised to learn some things --from running techniques to running shoes--things that were really helpful in making the whole experience more enjoyable. Over the next two years, Joe and I could be found running around the lake at least twice a month. Those times were a delight, far from the drudgery I experienced on my first attempt.
This past Sunday, we began a series called “Read. Listen. Respond.” I am inviting our body over the next three weeks to make a commitment to reserve a daily time to read the New Testament together over the next year for the purpose of connecting with Jesus. More information can be found at http://www.northwestbible.org/read-listen-respond .
I realize that this is going to require discipline. I realize that it might feel like drudgery at times. I realize that for some it will require learning new things about reading the Bible, listening to the Spirit, and responding with our lives. However, I believe that the Lord, who wants to speak to His people and be heard by His people, will cause us to meditate on His Word more consistently than we have in the past. I also believe that as we are consistent to show up and sit with Jesus, this time in His Word will become a delight that we look forward to.
LET’S PRAY TOGETHER.
God of heaven and earth, consume my soul with longing for Your Words at all times. Cause me to rejoice in following Your Word as one rejoices in great riches. May Your Words be to me sweeter than honey to my mouth. Cause me to delight and love Your words so that I will not neglect them but instead meditate on them day and night. In Jesus’ Name.
(The words for this prayer were taken from Psalm 119)