Easter… Just Live It

So tonight as I was winding down from an incredibly beautiful day at my in-laws and playing with my grandsons. I really wasn’t going to write any thing but then I thought more about how I pressed pause during this week of Easter to reflect on the grace that was poured out on Good Friday and the hope of Easter Sunday.

I started asking myself on how do you wrap this up?  How do you put a bow on all that we’ve examined and reflected upon?  What is the truth that you take away and apply until next Easter?

I thought more about what to say, how to say it and how to wrap it all up.

It was then when something so simple came to me.

“Just Live it.”

As I reflect on those three words a bit, I think what it means is that if we don’t accept the grace we’ve been given and live it outLive it each day, it doesn’t mean much.  Imagine if we all “lived out” the grace we’ve been given and applied it to those we impact each day.   Imagine if our words and our actions were grace giving.   I can think of no better way to honor the gift of grace than to give it away.

We celebrated a risen Savior that is very much alive and interceding for each one of us. Today we celebrated a grace we’ll never fully understand this side of heaven.  Let’s do our best to walk out that grace as our way of saying “thank you” to the one that paid it all.

Christ is Risen.

God is Not Dead!!!

Easter 2014 has come and we celebrated the Resurrection. When you think about it, there’s a little bit of Easter in every single day. We wake up to a new invitation to begin again – whole and healed… shameless, courageous, empowered, and loved… A divine do over, but this time with a wisdom we didn’t have before, and help we could never afford. Ours, if we only ask, believe and just live it.

That is Amazing Grace.

God’s Grace Declares Us Not Guilty

It’s the day after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. 

empty-crossThe cross is empty, He no longer hangs there suspended between heaven and hell. The tomb is still holding the body of Jesus Christ.

Many people were celebrating His death, they were happy that this man who had claimed He was God’s Son was gone.   However, there were a few people who were not so happy that Jesus Christ was gone.  They had witnessed the miracles and they sat under His teachings and now they were confused as to what was going to happen next.

I try to imagine what it was like for those who were so close to Him after they  witnessed such an atrocity.  Imagine the isolation and hopelessness that all those close to Jesus felt on that day so many years ago. I am sure seeds of doubt were sprouting in their minds and hearts.

The shock of how quickly it happened, they just had dinner with Him a few days ago and now He is gone.  I imagine their fear.  With every unknown  noise they would hear where they were hiding would be the sounds of them coming to get them and they too would be next to experience crucifixion. 

Everything they had hoped for was gone. They were now in hiding. They were scattered and their plans were shattered. They had given up everything for a man that was now gone.

What now? Where do we turn? How do we begin to rebuild? All they had left was their thoughts and their fears.  They spent this day all those years ago in reflection.  Remembering the words of Christ and wondering what was going to happen next.

I don’t know about you but I’ve had days similar to this as well.  My hopes came crashing down.  How I thought things  would be turned out to be nothing but isolation. In this life, there will be days like that. There will be moments when nothing seems to be as it should and I wonder what is going to happen next.

What those that were in hiding the day after the crucifixion forgot was that the death of Jesus Christ had paid the debt of sin for all of mankind.  No other sacrifice was needed. God was in control. He had a plan and Jesus Christ was the ultimate sacrifice and we were given a way to have our sins forgiven and be reconciled back to God. Welcome to the day of Grace. We received a gift we didn’t deserve. We were given the opportunity to find grace.  All you have to do is accept it. Grace declares us not guilty for our sins.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.  – Ephesians 2: 8-9

To find this grace all you need to do is acknowledge that you are a sinner. You need to believe that Jesus Christ was your substitute when He died on that cross.  You have to believe that thgracee blood that was shed, his death, burial and resurrection were for just for you.  Confess with your mouth that you believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and you need forgiveness of your sins.  Ask to receive Him into your life as your Savior.  That is how you find salvation in Jesus Christ.  It is what He did on the cross that provides this grace and salvation.  All of your good works mean nothing.  We cannot work our way to heaven.  Again.. Grace declares us not guilty for our sins.  This opportunity to receive this salvation is because of the grace that was given at the foot of the cross. 

I accepted this grace on November 7, 1970.

Make today the day of salvation in your life.  A new start… a new day of hope… a new way to live your life.  All given because of God’s Grace.

I have taken a journey through some deep personal thoughts this week.  As I sat in church last Sunday I felt like it was what I needed to do.  Grace was needed for my salvation but that did not make me perfect.  I still sin.  I still have struggles. I needed to spend this week reflecting on grace that was poured out not only to me but to all mankind.  I needed to reflect on how I walk as a follower of Jesus.  And as reflected on the years of my life, I found that I’m not as good a follower of Christ as I need to be.  When it comes to me giving grace to those who I need forgive, I am not amazing.  But as I begin to feel the weight of my failure and sin,  I remember that I have accepted His grace and I hear…

God’s Grace Declares Us Not Guilty.

The reality is that I have a pile of failures in character.  I have a pile a mile high of my failures in extending love.  Words can’t describe my pile of sin.  It’s not pretty.  Not pretty at all.   When I reflect on the story of my life,  I feel the weight of it all.   It’s then that I remember that I have accepted His grace and I hear…

God’s Grace Declares Us Not Guilty.

When I look in the mirror, I don’t like what I see.   I’m not talking about appearance, that ship sailed long ago.   I’m talking about the mirror of my heart.  I’m talking about my mind and what it thinks.  I’m talking about my eyes and what they see.   I’m talking about my ears and what they hear.   I see the heart and what it should beat for and what it rarely does.  When I look in the mirror, I feel the weight of it all.   It’s then that I remember that I have accepted His grace and I hear…

God’s Grace Declares Us Not Guilty.

Today is a day of reflection. If you’re like me, I reflect on all that I’ve listed above. That list was nailed to a cross that wasn’t his.  If you’re reading this, it wasn’t just mine, it was yours too. Because of that sacrifice, each of us  that have accepted His grace and salvation can stand in the court of God and hear…

God’s Grace Declares Us Not Guilty.

We still need to ask God to forgive us for our sins… because God’s grace declares us not guilty for the penalty of our sins, we still need to make sure our relationship is where it needs to be with him.  We have to continue to work on being the believer He wants us to be.  We will never be perfect and we will always have something to work on in the quest to be a servant that God is please in.

On Sunday morning, we will celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  We will celebrate His victory over death.  For those that have accepted Jesus Christ into their life will know that hope and eternal life is captured by this resurrection of Jesus Christ.

 

But today is the memorial and the reflection.  Take the time to consider what your relationship with Jesus Christ is. Today can be the day of salvation for you.  If you know Him than prepare for the remembrance of His victory over death. 

Hold on friends.   Tomorrow is the celebration.

Sunday is a stone’s roll away. 

Because of our Savior’s death on the cross…

God’s Grace Declares Us Not Guilty.

And that truly is Amazing Grace.

Sacrifice Accepted

Jesus fell on his face in prayer. 

The magnitude of what He was facing and the weight of the eternal destinies of the world fell upon His shoulders. Eleven remained then, they were sleeping a stone’s throw away.   But soon there would be none. Not one friend Parying in Gardenwould stay.

“Let the cup pass,” he cried. “Father, if possible, let the cup pass!”

The Father gazed lovingly at his Son and the Son stared back already knowing his destiny.

“Your will be done, Father,” whispered the Son.

Just then, through blurry eyes, Jesus saw the line of torches slithering like a snake up the hill to the garden. The mob arrived.  Judas kissed.  Friends fled.  Soldiers arrested.  And Jesus’ world suddenly became a swirl of torment and mockery.

Judas, the betrayer, would soon hang pale and gasping swinging from the end of his belt under the limb of a tree. The flames of hell already lapping at his feet, it would have been better if he had never been born.

The trial of Jesus Christ was a sham as liars lied and mockers mocked. God claimed to be God, and it was called blasphemy. And the face that Moses longed to see — the face that he was forbidden to see — was slapped and spit on.

They leveled their charges. Pilate stared intently at Jesus. He questioned him. And found no guilt. Neither did King Herod. So Pilate offered to release Jesus to the swelling crowd. But they chose freedom for the murderer Barabbas instead.

“Then what should I do with Jesus of Nazareth?” Pilate shouted to the mob. The mob thundered back: “Crucify him! Crucify him!”  And their voices prevailed.

Pilate washed his hands and delivered the Innocent One to death.

Next, Jesus was stripped and his hands were tied above his head to a post.  The Jews would have been more merciful — no more than thirty-nine lashes.  But the Romans extended no such mercy. The scourging was a horror that few survived.  Fearing they had gone too far and killed Jesus before it was time, the soldiers cut him loose. He fell in an unconscious heap at their feet.

reflections on Christ - crucifixionAs Jesus came to he was forced to stand. A purple robe, a mock scepter and a crown of thorns were all forced upon the Savior. Jesus is bowed and bloody, heavy lumber is strapped across his shoulders. The weight of the rough wood proves too much as it grinds against the lacerations left by the Roman scourging.  Pain explodes like light in Jesus’ brain. And he crumples under the beam. He no longer can carry the beam.

Jesus looks up and holds the soldier captive in his gaze. The victim’s eyes do not pierce the centurion with the hatred he expects. Instead, he finds love in those eyes. Love mingled with pain, yes — brokenhearted love — but love nonetheless. And not a love excited by one mere act of kindness. This love preceded the moment. This love preceded his existence. This love preceded the existence of the world.  Somehow the centurion knows that these are the eyes of Eternal Love.

Jesus holds the soldier’s gaze as long as he can. But the blood that dripped off the ends of his hair to the ground when he was bent low under the beam now drops into his eyes. The blood mixed with sweat stings, and Jesus blinks.

It’s nine o’clock in the morning, by this time on this dark day, Jesus was all too familiar with the sting of pain.

Then Jesus is led out beyond the city gates.  He sees several posts fixed in the ground. Three of those poles stand ready to receive their cross beams and the tattered body of Jesus and the two criminals carrying their own beams behind him.

Jesus now lays naked in the dirt on the hill called Golgotha.  Two men take hold of his hands. Eternal Love shines forth again, as the hammer comes crashing down.

Flashes of the soldiers, the priests, the thieves, the friends, the mothers, the brothers, the mob, the wooden beams, the spikes, the thorns and the blood on the ground beneath him all eternally etched into the minds of the witnesses of this fateful day.

Dark clouds gather above.rsz_jesus_on_the_cross_john_3-16_

Jesus is lifted on his crossbeam to the post.  His left foot is now pressed against his right foot. Both feet are extended, toes down, and a spike is driven through the arch of each.  Jesus immediately pushes himself up to gasp for breath and to relieve the pain in his outstretched arms. He places his full weight on the spikes in his feet and pushes against the pain.

Jesus is now held there suspended between heaven and earth by spikes in his wrists and feet.

But it wasn’t the spikes that kept him there… it was his love.

Quickly waves of cramps overtake him — deep, throbbing pain from his head to his toes.  Jesus can exhale, but he cannot inhale.  His compressed heart is struggling to pump blood to his torn body.  He fights to raise himself in order to breathe and in order to speak.

He looks down at the soldiers now gambling for his clothes. He pushes himself up through the violent pain to pray aloud, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they do.”  Then he sags back into silence.  But the crowd is not silent, though he can barely hear their taunts through the din of his pain.  “He saved others, let him save himself! If you’re the Christ, come down off the cross! Save yourself, King of the Jews!”

It’s noon now. The rain falls harder and the clouds blacken. Jesus looks down through wet strands of hair into the familiar face of a woman.  It’s his mother.  She’s sobbing so hard that her breathing is as labored as his. Without words she looks into his eyes and begs to know why. He longs to hold her and to tell her that it’s all for her. He pushes upward and says, “Woman.” Then he looks his friend John in the eyes. John is standing behind her supporting his own weeping mother. “He is now your son.” then to John, Jesus murmurs, “And she is now your mother. Take her away from here.”

And he sags back into silence, back into countless hours of limitless pain.

As the sin and weight of the world crashes down on Jesus, God the Father can no longer look at his beloved Son, his heart’s treasure, the mirror-image of himself.  He looks away.

Jesus pushes himself upward and cries to heaven, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Silence.

Separation.

Jesus pushes himself up again and cries, “It is finished.” And it is. Every sin of every child of God has been laid on it_is_finished-FramedJesus.

It’s three o’clock and Jesus finds one more surge of strength.  He presses his torn feet against the spikes, straightens his legs, and with one last gasp of air cries out, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!”

And he dies.

The merciful centurion sees Jesus’ body fall far forward and his head drop low. He thrusts a spear up behind Jesus’ ribs—one more piercing for our transgression—and water and blood flow out of his broken heart.

In that moment mountains shake and rocks spilt; veils tear and tombs open.

And the merciful centurion looks up at the lifeless body of Jesus and is filled with awe. He drops to his knees and declares, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”

 Sacrifice accepted.

But that’s not the end of the story…

Finding Grace at the Foot of The Cross

Let me start off tonight’s posting on grace with a couple of thoughts.

First of all, I admit that I have issues with forgiveness which I’ll explain in a minute.

Second, I have issues with feet. I am not a fan of bare feet. I don’t like touching feet or feet touching me.  I can’t explain it, it’s just one of those things.

Forgiveness and feet are just two of the MANY things I have issues with.

I’m just being honest here. I know we’re supposed to forgive and I really do wrestle with situations where I should.  I’m working on it and God’s not done with me yet. 

Now what do these two issues have to do with grace?

In John 13:1-17 we see Jesus do the unthinkable.

He is just days away from dying on a cross for the sins of the entire world.  He’s with his closest frithe-last-supperends eating dinner. He knows them… He know what is going to happen.  He is with the very men that will soon scatter.  They won’t have His back.  One will betray Him outright.  Another will deny he even knew Him.

If these people were in my life and I knew that they were going to walk away, betray me and deny they even knew me, do you think I would want to share a meal with them? Would you?

As if the meal wasn’t enough, He goes far beyond the call of duty.  He takes the role of a servant and washes their feet.

He washed the feet of friends that would bail on him.  He washed the feet of the man that would betray Him.  He washed the feet of the man that would completely deny knowing Him.  He knew exactly how it would all happen.

These men didn’t deserve the forgiveness of the Savior.  They didn’t deserve the act of humility given to them by having their feet washed by God’s Son.  No…  they did not deserve these things but that is what Jesus Christ gave them.

That is Grace.

When I thinkfeet-wash3 about this act of grace and the one which would soon follow, I am ashamed of my inability to forgive.  I am saddened by my lack of grace in situations.  Should I wash the feet of those I may have issues with?  Could I even do it?  Could I wash the feet of those I need to forgive? Is an email saying “I’m sorry” or “I forgive you” a modern-day version of that?  Could a phone call be like filling that basin and kneeling before those I need to forgive?  I think so but I am not sure. 

This I do know… I am starting to see forgiveness much differently than I have in the past. In the past I would simply ask God to forgive my unforgiveness of others… the older I get I see that God wants me to ask forgiveness of those that I have something against. Like Jesus Christ who forgave those that betrayed Him, I need to forgive those that have done me wrong.  That needs to begin this week.

Jesus was placed on the Cross for our sin. This is a critical point that cannot be missed – Have you accepted His grace?  Have you accepted Him as your Savior? Maybe today is that day. Maybe this week is a week to finally accept the grace that is found at the foot of the Cross.

“…And we will never be able to wash the feet of those who have hurt us until we allow Jesus, the one we have hurt, to wash ours.” – Max Lucado

That is Grace.

Amazing Grace

I never thought God could use a trip to Seattle to teach me a lesson about grace.

A few years ago I had a meeting in Seattle, Washington.  I arrived in Seattle on a Monday night around 11pm.  I was weary from a long dayseattle and ready to check into my room at the Holiday Inn express. It’s not my hotel of choice, but it’s where my meeting was being held early the next morning. Like is or not, it’s where I was staying. Or so I thought…..

The nice people behind the counter at the hotel kindly informed me that all of the rain they recently had damaged a number of their rooms and I was going to be “walked to the Hilton.”  The next thing I know, I am given directions to my next destination. When I walked into the lobby, it was pretty clear that this was certainly not the Holiday Inn. From the valet parking at the front door, to the lobby big enough to land a plane in, as the man behind the counter said

“wow, this is quite an upgrade from the Holiday Inn.”

When I finally got to my room, the square footage of the room seemed to be larger than my house, robes in the closet, Starbucks coffee on the counter, even a telephone next to the toilet in the bathroom. This is the kind of place you see in movies and never dream of paying for. I was like a grown up version of the kid from Home Alone. The most amazing part came in the morning when I got my bill. It literally read $0.00. That’s right. No charge. Free. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada. The Holiday Inn had paid the bill in full.

You probably see what I am getting at here. Isn’t that something like the grace we have been given by God?

I had a debt to pay. A large debt. I did not earn this place. There was nothing I did, could have done, or will do to ever have made that possible. Someone else paid my price. All I needed to do was gladly accept the offer, and follow the directions to Paid_in_Full[1]get there. Even though my original plans were “damaged,” someone had noted my situation and provided a better way.

That alone would have been worth it all. But remarkably, they also paid my price in full.

We all have a debt of sin that we need to deal with.  We all need someone to pay the debt for our sins.  There is nothing we can do to earn the payment that needs to be paid.  All we need to do is to accept the payment for our sin that Jesus Christ made for us on the Cross of Calvary.  It was free… no charge. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada. It was this free gift that allowed you and I the ability to have our sins forgiven. All we have to do is accept this free gift of Salvation.

Now that really is, as they say, Amazing Grace.

He’ll Take Care of the Rest

If you watch the news it’s easy to panic. The world seems out of control and panic, fear, worry are all emotions that come when it seems anarchy is imminent.

But it’s ok….God IS in charge.

Nothing is out of control, it’s ok.

As I read scripture there is one thing that is very clear…  God is sovereign and all the chaos you see is not God’s doing, but He is sovereign over it all. Rulers are placed in their roles by Him (see Daniel 11), nations have their existence because of Him, the events of history do not catch Him by surprise….He’s a “hands on” God, fully capable to handling the world’s problems.

panicThe world we live in is in full panic mode because it seems “wicked men” rule and chaos is looming near, but don’t forget….it’s ok, God’s in charge. Even the apparent wicked ruler you see in different places around the globe is there by divine appointment to accomplish His will, His plan, to bring glory to His Son.

Relax, God has everything fully under control…..the government, the leaders, the weather, global warming, prices at the pump, your job, your life, you future…all of it….God’s in charge.

So what do we do????

We need to share our relationship with Christ and make disciples, be ready when He comes and present to Him a life of trust and obedient response to His one command to His disciples…the final words…go into all the world and make disciples. That is His goal…the redemption of the lost man and He has given us that one task.

Why are we so busy with so many other things He never told us to do? 

Why are we worried about all the rest? It’s ok, God’s in charge, focus on the one thing he has told us to do and don’t worry… He’ll take care of the rest.

So… sit back, relax and listen one of my favorite songs by the incomparable Keith Green. 

The Truth Hurts

Truth HurtsThe truth hurts.

Here is the latest “truth” about blogs… people don’t read them!  

Wow, what was a surprise.

Not really… I have known this for quite sometime.

To be honest most of us write for ourselves and not so much for others anyway. 

But if people aren’t reading blogs anymore what is a better way to communicate?  How can we share our thoughts, our lives, our stories and be read by those who may need them?  

Do I stop because I am not having over 10,000 readers each month?

It seems Facebook fills some of that void, but Twitter and Instagram seem to be the new content zero sites people are using. What a day we are in.  Everyone is on the internet, but few are actually using it for blogornotyw3information.  Now it’s purpose is entertainment and communication.

However, I do receive feedback, every now and then, from someone who has been helped by this blog.

So, what do us bloggers do?  

Shall I continue?  

Should I find another vehicle to communicate?  

It seems, if no one is reading this, that the efforts are indeed for me alone, but if they help me is that enough? And, at the moment, I would say yes.  

These blogs have been a journey for me, a story of what God is doing in me.  If they help someone else great.  If not, I will write them anyway.  

God can sort all of that out.

Counting The Stars – Clay Kirchenbauer

I am proud to share the new single released by my son-in-law, Clay Kirchenbauer.  Please let me know what you think of the song!!!

 

Tell me what you want because I don’t know who to be
and I never thought we’d ever see a battle we can’t beat
Tell me who you are, because I don’t know who you’ve been
And I never thought we’d ever face a battle from within

Beautiful enough to overwhelm my heart
A burning fire that consumes my every part
Loving you is more than hard, it’s like counting the stars

Come back down to earth and try not to get burned
because I’m trying to figure out how we lost everything we learned

Beautiful enough to overwhelm my heart
A burning fire that consumes my every part
Loving you is more than hard, it’s like counting the stars

Stars fade and people change, hearts break
You lose faith in the one who’s always kept you safe
No matter how hard I try I always find I fall right back to you

Beautiful enough to overwhelm my heart
A burning fire that consumes my every part
Loving you is more than hard, it’s like counting the stars

Loving you has only left me incomplete
but I’ve never loved something that made me feel so free
Loving you is more than hard, it’s like counting the stars

 

Clay Kirchenbauer – Counting the Stars
Music and Lyrics by Clay Kirchenbauer

Vocals / Piano – Clay Kirchenbauer
Guitars / Bass – Thom Daugherty
Drums – Kyle Kirchenbauer
Strings – Mark Evitts

Produced and mixed by Thom Daughtery @ AGITPROPER
Mastered by Dan Shike @ Tone and Volume Mastering
© Roleystone Media – 2014

My Problem With Prayer

“If prayer worked my nephew wouldn’t have died from cancer!!”

These impassioned words were spoken by a friend of mine. A bunch of us were out to lunch and crowded-restaurantwe all seemed to be talking at the same time.  A myriad of conversations going on at the same time when suddenly above our increasing volume of occasional laughter and cat calls those words cut through the noise like a knife. 

The restaurant where words once filled the air was now filled with an uncomfortable silence.

As the faces from all my friends looked to me to give a response. I was stunned. I was speechless. I did not know how to respond. I struggled with coming up with the words to comfort or to give an answer to the obvious pain that comes from a comment like that. 

I knew the story. I knew his nephew had died in the past year from cancer. He was talking about it with another friend at the other end of the table.  What I didn’t know was the struggle that he had in trying to accept it.  He was bitter at God because he prayed and prayed for healing for this little boy and according to him, God did nothing.

After being a believer for over 40 years, I have hardly ever missed a Sunday service over that period of time. I attended a Christian High School,went on to graduate from Liberty University (the largest Christian University in the world) and then I went on to be in the ministry for over 12 years. One would think I would be able to give a good explanation for my friends pain. One would think I would have had a handle on how to give an answer to his statement about prayer.

I don’t. prayer-frustration

In fact, the more I pray, the less I understand its profound mysteries. I have come to the realization that I have a problem with prayer and I am confident that I am not alone in this conclusion.

Maybe you are like to me. I struggle sometimes when I pray. My words ‘feel’ as if they are bouncing off the ceiling and not really going anywhere. Sometimes, I ‘feel’ as if I am talking to myself and wonder if God is really listening; it’s as if God is vague and not concrete. I can’t see Him. I can’t touch Him. I can not ‘feel’ Him.

I am mature enough of a believer to understand that my ‘feelings’ are not reliable, and my faith has nothing to do with them, whatsoever. The problem begins when I allow my focus to be drawn inward. My mind begins to think… “I can’t see God doing anything about…”, I can’t touch, I can’t feel. I, I, I.

I know that there appears to be a problem with prayer for more than just me. “It’s a one-way conversation.” “It doesn’t seem to work.” “God takes too long to answer.” “God does what He wants anyway.”  We have all had these thoughts at one time or another.

I’ve long wondered about the function of prayer in my life. One of my favorite verses is Matthew 7:7 where Jesus says, “Ask and it will be given to you.” The only problem is, a lot of times God doesn’t give us what we ask. Many people have left their faith because they prayed for healing but a loved one died anyway as in my friends nephew. Others get frustrated because they pray and don’t receive a well-paying job, relief from a chronic pain, or peace with their family. why2I’ve struggled with my own unanswered prayers or prayers that get an answer I didn’t want.

Which has made me wonder, “What’s the point in asking?” Why should we share prayer requests when we meet for Bible studies? Why should we ask friends to pray for us when we’re sick or injured? What difference does it make? Even praying for God’s will doesn’t make an impact on the outside world. God will follow His will whether or not we remember to ask for it.

I believe it’s better God acts on His will rather than granting our foolish wishes. God will always know what is best for us, and you can be sure He’s looking to give you the best in your life even if it isn’t what you want. But how much does God take what we pray for into account? What impact can our prayers have on the mind of God?

As much as I have struggled at times with my perspective of prayer, I’ve come to several conclusions that might help correct the perceived problems with prayer.

I have learned that the purpose of prayer is not for God to please me by giving me everything I prayed for, but for God to fundamentally change me. He wants to change the way I think about how God answers my prayers by learning how to accept His will for the things I pray for.

We need to understand that the purpose of prayer is not for God to please us, but for God to change us. If a father constantly gives in to a child’s demands, we’d take him for a lousy parent. Why, then, do some think God’s a stubborn God when He doesn’t give us everything we want? We need to trust that God is wise and powerful enough to answer rightly—and right on time. First John 5:14 says, “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” That is, God won’t jump at every loose-lipped confession. Prayer offered up in true faith submits to His will—our sanctification (1 Thessalonians 4:3).

God’s will is to change us, not please us.

In addition, we need to accept that the power of prayer is perceived in even the smallest god-owes-us-nothing_thumbresponse. I’m convinced that humans don’t fully comprehend how little we deserve God’s love and grace. Consider that what we regard as “crumbs” of answered prayer may really be bountiful feasts once we realize that God owes us nothing (Genesis 32:9-10; Luke 7:6-9). When we adjust our attitude about our own unworthiness to receive God’s favor, we’ll never regard “small” answers to prayer as insignificant. What we consider small and insignificant are the seeds to grow our faith. If God always answered in BIG ways we would be less dependent in our faith.  Faith is believing, regardless of our feelings and regardless of any earthly outcome. Faith’s focus is on God–and the truth of who and what He is not necessarily how our prayers turn out.

Finally, we need to acknowledge that the process of prayer is not as important as the attitude of prayer Christians can get hung up on method, worried that they haven’t said the right words, haven’t prayed hard or often enough, or haven’t believed deeply enough. That’s hocus-pocus, not prayer (Matthew 6:5-8).  We all need to be in the mindset of prayer so that we are better prepared to accept God’s will for a situation.  I believe our attitude of prayer is more about how we accept the decision that God has already made than it is to “change” the mind of God.

Of course these reminders are easy to read, but they’re not easy to live. To our finite minds, we’ll always perceive “problems” with prayer.

Are you struggling with your prayer life, not seeing results, wondering if God is listening?

It might be time for an attitude change. It might be time to allow God to fundamentally change you so that you are willing to be open to God’s plan regardless of what the outcome may be. 

It might be time to finally accept that the problem with prayer is not with God, but with us.

 

Who Are You Meant to Be?

2014 is a weird time to be alive.

We’re more connected than ever, more aware of what others are doing with their lives than at any other point in history. The rise of social media and its integration into our daily lives make it so. There is no escape from it and there is no going back to way things used to be. There was a time when I could escape into my own little world and dream and pretend to be anyone I wanted to be.

Everywhere I turn in life I see confused people. People acting less and less like their true selves and more like other people whose lives they desperately crave. Facebook, its showcasing and highlighting of people’s lives, every minute detail, make it difficult not to compare and envy others. In truth, this is nothing new. 

In the attempt to give full disclosure, I spent the majority of my days of youth filled with visions of being Brooks Robinson, Johnny Unitas, Harold McGilton and Paul McCartney all rolled up into one person. Who are these people? Well they were people I dreamed of being at one point in my life. 

Once upon a time, I tried my best to be Brooks Robinson. Brooks Robinson was a Hall of Fame 3rd BasemanBrooks for the Baltimore Orioles. Knowscann as The Human Vacuum Cleaner, Brooks Robinson established a standard of excellence for modern-day third basemen. He played 23 seasons for the Orioles, setting Major League career records for games, putouts, assists, chances, double plays and fielding percentage. A clutch hitter, Robinson totaled 268 career home runs, at one time an American League record for third basemen. Robinson earned the league’s MVP Award in 1964 and the World Series MVP in 1970, when he hit .429 and made a collection of defensive gems.  I did not have to play very many games to realize that my dream to be the next Brooks Robinson wasn’t going to happen.

The same could be said for Johnny Unitas.  As a Sophomore in high school weighing ijohnnyun at just a Footballsmidgen  over 100 lbs, my career as a football player was short-lived. But that did not stop me from wanting to be just like him. “The Golden Arm” as he was known, amassed numerous records in his 17 years as the Quarter Back for the Baltimore Colts. Unitas’ career statistics include 40,239 yards and 290 touchdowns passing. A genuine team player, Unitas was a first- or second-team All-NFL choice eight years, selected NFL Player of the Year three times, and named to 10 Pro Bowls. That definitely wasn’t going to happen in my life.

I have written the most about my dream to be just like Harold McGilton. Who was Harold?  He was a Sprint Car Racer from Fremont, Ohio. Throughout his racing career, Harold won many features and set numerous track records. He was a two-time Track Champion at Fremont Speedway. To this very day I still dream about what it would be like to be strapped into a Sprint car and driving it into a 100 MPH slide through the turns of our local dirt track. Again… this dream would not become a reality.

Seriously. I spent a good portion of my younger life searching for a role that would encompass a little bit of these people into what I would do with my life but I never found it. When you are just not talented enough it kinda hinders the possibility of it happening. I mentioned earlier that I wanted to be the next Paul McCartney, but hearing my recorded voice told me that just wasn’t in the cards either. So I did what all die-hard, race car drivin, rock star football playin third basemen wannabees do. I quit trying.

What I needed was a good dose of self-analysis. I needed to figure out why I was here and what I have to give to this world we live in.  I had to stop trying to be someone I wasn’t ever going to be.

Have you ever lived a portion of your life dreaming about being someone you could not become?  Have you dreamed about doing something that just wasn’t possible? I am sure we all have.

The question remains, how many of us have been able to do exactly what you were meant to do?  Have you honestly been able to live a portion of your life where you were able to act upon that which you are passionate about? Have you ever been able to “be” what you were meant to be?

As an example, this past Sunday morning I watched the worship team at Grace Community (Click on Link) absolutely crush the worship set. We are beyond blessed with some incredibly talented people who serve on our Worship team. Every week they usher those that visit Grace Community into a heart of worship. They do it for 3 straight services.  Each one as strong as the next.  They are living what they are made to do. You can’t miss it. It oozes out of them. If you’ve been there, you know what I mean.

Here is a video from this past Christmas as the Worship Team was practicing the opening to our Christmas Services.

Thank you to our worship team for living in your sweet spot and doing what you were made for. It inspires others on so many levels. It goes beyond music and lyrics. It’s a contagious passion. You were made for it and you are living it.

As the years passed in my life, I am happy to say that for many years of my life, I was able to be Purposeand to do exactly what I felt I was meant to do in this life.  I found my path and I did exactly what God wanted me to do.

My prayer is that you find your path and be who you were meant to be. 

We all want to make the world a better place. We all want to mean something to other people. What that looks like differs for all of us, and sometimes it changes from one day, one month, and one year to the next.

But it’s up to us all individually to wake up every day and decide that those intentions are what really matter. It’s not the money, approval, acclaim, or anything else that might distract us from what we believe to be true. What matters is who God wants us to be, and what we do about it today.

Who do you want to be–and what will you do about it today?

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 632 other followers