So What Shall We Pray For?

What Jesus said in John 14:13-14 is hard for people to understand, yet believe. Jesus promises that he would answer our prayers no matter how great the request. This is not a blank check to satisfy our whimsical desires. There are parameters around Jesus’ promise from parallel passages.

We must ask:

  • in faith (Matthew 21:22)
  • in agreement with other believers (Mt. 18:19)
  • in Jesus’ name (John 14:13-16; 16:23-26)
  • according to His will (1 John 5:14-15)
  • while obeying His word (Jn. 15:7; 1 Jn. 3:22)
  • and bearing fruit for Him (Jn. 15:16).

The promise does not apply where we ask selfishly or with the wrong motives (Mark 10:35; James 4:2-3).

So what shall we request?

Jesus told us to ask for at least three things:

  1. The Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13)
  2. Workers in the harvest (Mt. 9:38)
  3. and wisdom (James 1:5).

Our greatest error is not that we ask inappropriately or that we ask for the wrong things, but that we don’t ask at all (Luke 11:9; Ephesians 3:20).

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Dear Pastor, You’re asking too much of us

Dear Pastor Marcus,

We think you’re asking way too much from us. In an average WEEK you think we should attend worship, a class or group, serve at least one hour, AND give of our finances. And then you say at home we should take time each DAY to read the Bible and pray for a few minutes. That doesn’t even include your idea that we should be investing and inviting unchurched people so they might have a relationship with God and a church family. We think you are expecting way too much from us. We’ve got things to do, places to be, mouths to feed, golf to play.

When we prayed that prayer to have Jesus in our hearts, we thought we were done. We got a “get out of hell free” card and we’re grateful for that and the future hope of Heaven, but we can’t imagine that God would expect MORE from us. We know Jesus came to earth and died for us. Yes, we’ve heard all about how we have to take up our cross daily, imitate Christ, surrender our lives to him. But we think that’s unrealistic. We just don’t have time, money, or energy for Jesus or His bride, the Church.

We’ve gone to church for years and even went to Sunday school as kids. So we know all we need to know about God, Jesus, and the church. We’re not bad people. We’ve got a few hang-ups but we don’t really need much more work on our souls. Mark needs help (he’s not bad either but he still hasn’t gotten into the habit of putting the toilet seat down!).  But we’ve pretty much grown as much as we can spiritually. What we really need is a new car!

You can keep telling us what the Bible teaches (we really like your humor!) but we thought we might save you some time. We’re not changing. We’ll keep doing the same things the same ways so keep any of those thoughts to yourself. We will come to church (when we don’t have a late Saturday night), go to an occasional all-church event (we love the cooking in this church!), give when we have extra money (and not saving for that car!), but you can stop the call to commitment. Jesus gave up everything for us, but we think He’s quite content with what we have to offer.

Sincerely,

Mark and Mary Member

Top 5 Regrets of they Dying

Bonnie Ware, an Australian nurse who worked in palliative care for years, wrote about what she learned were the things most regretted by those dying in a blog post at the beginning of the year.  CLICK HERE TO SEE HER POST.

According to Ware, these are the top five regrets of the dying:

  1. I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.  “Health brings a freedom few realize, until they no longer have it.”
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.  “This came from every male patient that I nursed.”
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.  “Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others.”
  4. I wish I’d stayed in touch with my friends.  “It all comes down to love and relationships in the end.”
  5. I wish I’d let myself be happier.  “Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again. When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind.”

Do any of these surprise you?  Which one do you most readily identify with?

You Are Not An Accident

Albert Einstein said,

God doesn’t play dice.

Long before you were conceived by your parents you were conceived in the mind of God.

You are not an accident.

Isaiah 44:2,

I am your Creator.  You were in my care even before you were born.

Knowing that God uniquely created me (you), what areas of my (your) personality, background and physical appearance am I struggling to accept?

Black Friday Should Be Renamed “Ungrateful Friday”

A few years ago, my son, Micah, made an astute observation after watching news of Black Friday near riots and crime.  He said, “That’s ironic and sad. On Thursday we thank God for all that we have. We’re content. And then the next day we act like we NEED something so bad we’d trample other people.”

I think Black Friday should be renamed, “Ungrateful Friday.”

If you missed it…here’s one Walmart…from a few years ago.

Three Ways to Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness as a Family

1. Simply involve God in our daily conversations. When we’re talking about anything, we’re going to involve God in our daily conversations. And this may seem weird when you first start, but it’s really simple. You’re driving along outside, beautiful sunrise on the way to school, you say, “Man, that’s awesome.” Instead, you say, “Wow, look at the sunrise that God has blessed us with.” And you’re simply showing that God is a part of our conversation.

And you do this in your marriage, instead of saying, “Man, I don’t know what to do. What do you think we should do? Let’s look at the pros and cons.” Instead, you say, “Wow, I wonder what God wants us to do?” & so, in your marriage, you are reminding yourself you are not just a Christian home, you are a Christ-centered home. You involve God in your conversations.

2. Make participation in a church family non-negotiable. If you’re a Christ-centered home, you make the worship of your God something that is non-negotiable. To take one hour a week to honor the Creator and Sustainer of this universe who sent his Son, Jesus, to hear the proclamation of the word because faith comes from hearing and hearing from the word of God. So you say to your family, “We’re going to church, period.”

3. Show how seeking and serving God is fun. There is no reason that church and faith and Christianity can’t be fun. And if it’s not, why would the world want any part of it. So have fun as a family even as it approaches faith issues. Let’s not take ourselves too seriously but let’s be light-hearted so that our environment is not legalistic.

People ask me, “How did you get your daughter to want to go to Haiti to serve others?” I didn’t do anything! She knows that if I’m traveling or people from this church are travelling that fun will break out. She’s understood from an early age that serving others is simply what we do. It’s non-negotiable. But at the same time, we can have lots of fun doing it. We don’t have to tell our kids to be good when we are already seeking the One who is good. We seek first the Kingdom of God & his righteousness and then everything else will be added . “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness because they will be filled.”

This may sound crazy to you but I’ve got a 17 year old daughter, and Jennifer and I never told her “Don’t have sex with boys, don’t party.” My daughter has had no real desire to date yet because she doesn’t think that those hairy-legged creatures are pursuing God enough for her right now. And that’s just where she stands. And some of you might think, “Well, that’s just weird. You’re raising weird kids.” OK, we could do that or raise normal kids that have 8 sexual partners before the age of 18. Which do you want? Normal or weird? You can have what God wants you to have if you will pursue God, period.

Parents, get up off your butts and lead toward a Christ-centered culture; lead toward it. You say, “Hey, I don’t even know where to start.” I’ve made it as simple as I can. Can you show it’s a blessing to serve God? Yes, you can. Can you make church a priority? Yes, you can. Can you involve God in your conversations? Yes, you can.

Humility Has Nothing To Do With Putting Yourself Down

Many assume that humility has to do primarily with how you think about yourself.  If you “lower” yourself, then you’re humble.  But that’s not true.  You can’t arrive at humility by focusing on yourself.  Humility has more to do with how you think about others and God.

Humility is the daily decision to think of others as more important than yourself.  It’s the daily decision to humble yourself under God’s mighty hand.  It’s not putting yourself down, but putting others and God up.  Or, as C.S. Lewis put it more succinctly, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”