A Misunderstanding about the Bible and Prayer

When we read the Bible, we’re looking for God. When we pray, we’re listening to God.

Bible study isn’t about discovering a user’s manual for life but about finding and understanding God Himself. Similarly, prayer isn’t a vending machine or a consultation. When we engage with the Bible and prayer we bring our lives to God to receive Him.

When we read the Bible and pray, we’re also looking to see and understand God’s work, God’s life, and God’s action in this world. Therefore, we ask God in prayer, “What have You done and what are You doing?”

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Seek Second the Kingdom of God?

Jesus said,

Seek first the Kingdom of God.

Revolutionary statement because we argue the opposite by the way we live. “I” must live.  I…  I… I… Always I. We don’t care that much about the Kingdom compared to how we fit into the world and what it can give us.

But here Jesus points out the utter folly of being so anxious about the world.

Our relationship to God should be the dominating concentration of our life and we need to be carefully careless about everything else in comparison.

A Wednesday Morning Prayer

Here my prayer, O Lord:

I want to lead others as You have led me.

I want to be a friend to others like You have been a friend to me.

I want to parent my children as You have parented me.

I want to love my wife as You have loved Your bride, the Church.

I want to bless others as You have blessed me.

I want to hear Your voice as You seek to get my attention.

I want to obey that voice as Jesus obeyed the voice of His Father.

I want my self-talk to reflect my identity in You, as You talk to me.

I want these things and more, and I ask it in Your name, Jesus, not for my glory but for Yours. Amen.

Passionately Love the Church in spite of its Imperfections

It is easy to get discouraged when you look at your church and see the gap between biblical fellowship and reality.

Yet we must passionately love the church in spite of its imperfections.  Longing for the ideal while criticizing the real is evidence of immaturity; settling for the real without striving for the ideal is complacency.  Living with the tension is maturity.

When Predictability is High, Impact is Low

Acts of philanthropy by Christians today are relatively commonplace, so they don’t surprise the world. Today most Christian philanthropy doesn’t evoke questions the way it might have in the fourth century.

Neither does living a fine, upstanding, middle class lifestyle in the suburbs, for what it’s worth.

To fulfill the evangelistic mandate that Paul and Peter and the gospels present us with, we need to be propelled OUTWARDS and into the lives of our neighbors, but also UPWARD, into deeper intimacy with Jesus. I believe we need to develop a new set of rhythms, or habits, that foster a missional lifestyle that intrigues others.

The Church: Ordinary people sent out to announce and demonstrate the reign of God

As followers of Jesus we need to realize that Sunday is only the day to prepare us for discipleship the six other days. We need to live generous, hospitable, Spirit-led, Christ-like lives as missionaries to our own neighborhoods.

Some of us grew up in churches that expected less. For a start, we were often told we are all evangelists, and we were expected to memorize prefabricated gospel presentations and share with anyone who might listen.

Because we found it impossible, we ignored the Great Commission and did little to nothing to spread God’s word. Why do it when we are bound for heaven anyway? So the church growth movement convinced us that all we had to do was befriend our neighbors and colleagues and invite them to church to hear the preaching of the word.

I think both approaches are unfair to us. The former places too high a set of expectations on us but the latter reduces us to church marketers who primary role is to advertise the church’s benefits. Surely there is a way we can see the church as an army of ordinary people sent out to announce and demonstrate the reign of God though Christ.

The Heart of Worship is Surrender

The heart of worship is surrender.

Romans 6:13 (TEV) Give yourselves to God…surrender your whole being to him to be used for righteous purposes.

Surrender has negative connotations because it sounds like we are “giving up” or have “lost.”

Three barriers that block our total surrender to God: fear, pride, and confusion.

We need to answer these three questions:

  1. Can I trust God? the more you realize how much God loves you, the easier surrender becomes. “Love casts out all fear.”
  2. Can I admit my limitations? We don’t want to admit we’re just creatures and not in real control.
  3. What does it really mean to surrender? it’s not passive acceptance but active sacrificing your own wishes and walk for God’s.