"He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." ~Jim Elliot

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

How God Wants You to Pray

Why We Don't Pray

I have told many people on more than one occasion that I find prayer to be the most difficult spiritual discipline. Perhaps it is because we often fail to realize how holy and powerful our great God is that we neglect to pray, and other times we just don't know what to say. The good news is, God has an answer for us in His word.

What God Provides

Christ teaches us how to pray (Mat. 6:9-13) and the Holy Spirit expresses our prayers (Rom. 8:26-27). The solution to our difficulties is following Christ's example and resting on the Spirit's power.

How to Pray (Mat. 6:9-13)

1. Pray to God's name. He is our Father and He is holy. It is healthy in prayer to come to God first recognizing His holiness before expressing anything else.
2. Pray for God's kingdom. God's name is the sum of His holiness; His kingdom is the spread of His holiness. Pray that others would come to see the greatness of Christ and the glory of God.
3. Pray for God's will. Pray that He would accomplish on earth what is already complete in Heaven. Pray that the church - you and I - would walk in His purposes and seek His counsel above our own. Pray for the government. Pray for your neighbors.
4. Pray that God will give us - food, clothing, and physical needs.
5. Pray that God will forgive us - for all of our sins, and in your confession know that He is gracious and compassionate and quick to forgive.
6. Pray that God will deliver us - from future sin and from temptations.

All our prayer should reflect the sufficiency of God and the helplessness of man. As we pray, we must come hungry and thirsty, realizing that our great God, Yahweh, is the only One who can fill us, for His is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.

Friday, July 31, 2015

From the Pit

O Lord,
You have brought me from the pit of sin
To the low of frustration
And from the darkness of frustration into Your light.
It is in Your light I see light,
O Power of my power,
Strength of my strength.
You have forgiven every wrong and transgression,
And You cover my doubts with Your mercy,
My fears with Your comfort,
My helplessness with Your love,
My wanderings with Your compassion,
My emptiness with Your fullness,
My appetite with Your sufficiency,
My sorrows with Your grace.
Let me be as Your Son -
Despised and rejected in this world,
Rich and satisfied in the next.
And now, Father, let me turn to my brothers
And comfort them with the comfort by which You have comforted me.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Blood and Water


Two thousand years ago a beloved Son sweat and bled for my transgressions. He died, in the anguish of His soul, an orphan. In his darkest hour, He lifted His face to His Father, crying out the name of His God. There was no answer. Not this day. He, the Son of Heaven, was now the sin of the world. Blood and water flowed from His side, and from His very wounds He washes clean all who call upon His name. 

Written on a night last year I cannot remember:

My Master,

O God, You see the stroke of every letter - only You know every word. When I am not moving, even then - You are. Your greatness depends not on my devotion. Your sovereignty rests not on my obedience. Your faithfulness yields not to my emotion.

My Lord, You behold the aching, the void of my heart. You are my true love. When my cares are many, You hold my burden; in my greatest temptation, You become my deepest remedy. Your love pierces my heart like a blade, and with Your beauty You draw me into Your presence.

Fill the void, my God. Mend me. Amend the evil that I have so long committed, and replace it with thoughts of You. O Father, forgive my sins. My Lord, make me pure and holy within - You alone can rescue. You alone will do.

So often am I distracted by the cares and the toys of this world. I give up my heavenly gold for what is only dirt. Behold, my greatest water lies before me and I wander aimlessly through barren deserts. My mind is consumed with "I am not" when you are calling out to me, "I AM."

Take me in to the fellowship of Christ. Remove the loneliness in my single soul, and replace it with the oneness in Jesus I have with my brothers and sisters. Dissolve the poison of my pride. Eradicate the sin. Satisfy me in the sanctifying rain of You. Only You can fill me. Baptize me in Your Scriptures.

Be my love.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Don't Spend Your Life Chasing Trash

Oftentimes I find myself completely oblivious to the world around me. It's easy to see life as a bunch of X's and O's, a time sheet, an agenda: be here at 1:00, do this, watch that. Rarely do human beings take on the burden of looking through the eyes of their brother. I discovered recently that I'm no exception to this rule, but when I really do take the time to look into the lives of other people, I am grieved - because of what I see in them, and then because I realize it is true of myself.

Most people live looking for the next thrill - next high, next phone, next trend, next paycheck, next trip, next year - with no lasting sense of fulfillment. Oh sure, people find fulfillment. They live with it their whole lives. But typically the fulfillment they find is from a temporary delight so that the whole of their lives are overshadowed by a desperation to keep themselves satisfied before this great thing right now becomes a boring thing of the past (hence the pursuit of the next thrill).

This shadow gives people a great amount of discomfort, so what we humans do is we create a long-term plan that we think will give us some source of emotional sustenance. This manifests itself in things like careers, relationships, long-term assets, and other things of the like. When we combine the short-term pleasures with their long-term plans, we think we're all set. And so, this is the way we live life: a layer of transient pursuits supported by futuristic goals.

When we consider critically the effect this has on humanity, it is easy to be downtrodden. Why? Allow me to summarize what this way of living means. It means that many people choose video games over anything else. It means people waste their money drinking and smoking and doing whatever to get highs, while the next day they are met by lows of equal measure. It means people continuously pour themselves into gadgets that will be trash in five years so that they spend their whole lives essentially pursuing trash. Practically, it means that most people would prefer a dead relative as a benefactor to a living relative who is a beneficiary. It means that many people spend the first one-third of their lives pursuing three letters to follow their name and the next two-thirds pursuing digits to follow their bank account, so that by the end of their lives they have lived for letters and numbers without having accomplished anything of real value.

Take a moment to consider. This happens to "good people" too. And it happens with good things. It is when we allow those good things to become a hindrance and not a help to our relationship with God that we find ourselves in deep, deep trouble. We are so easily consumed by the possessions and cares of this world so that they eventually become more important to us than the one true Treasure. Don't spend your life chasing toys or trash because there are pleasures at God's right hand that are far better and last far longer. When we spend ourselves for and on Him, we will never find ourselves empty, we will never feel any need for anything else, and we will never come up short.

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