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)