I was talking with a friend this week, and he reminded me of the importance of making incremental, steady progress toward my writing goals. He used a baseball metaphor, and talked about getting up to the plate, and hitting singles, doubles, and triples on a regular basis. He said that when I get up to bat, and learn the basics of the game, every now and then the right pitch will hang out over the plate, and I’ll have an opportunity to blast it out of the park.
I’ve walked with Jesus for over three decades. The road isn’t always smooth, but I’ve learned these two simple truths.
- God is always faithful.
- His Word is always True.
Yet when God doesn’t answer our prayers the way we want Him to, how often do we blame him and doubt his faithfulness?
I wrote a couple of posts last year on Beyonce’s appearance in the 2013 Super Bowl Half Time Show. A few bloggers were upset over some kind of symbolic gesture she made that is connected to Satan Worship.I have to admit, the posts I read rambled and wondered, trying to connect threads into a coherant idea that the most popular singer on the planet had connections to a Satanic church and rituals. (more…)
The two boxes below are related the growing in the Lord, and becoming a fully engaged disciple. Every Christ-follower needs to confess, and repent in humility of personal character flaws, and destructive or sinful habits. We may need to go and ask forgiveness of others, or write a letter to take steps to heal a relationship. When we humble ourselves and obey God, our actions result in accountability between us and others. Spiritual war and evil spiritual influences in life need to be opposed and resisted directly by what we you pray believe and by what we do.
Our prayers can be hindered by our own, internal selfish desires, attitudes, character or emotions. Our prayers can also be hindered by spiritual forces we can’t see, and yet they affect our lives none the less. Because of every life’s uniqueness, God doesn’t give us a One-Size-Fits-All solution to a weak or stale prayer life. (beware of those who do)
Spiritual warfare is as real as the sunlight and rain. Sometimes spiritual war appears through the unknowing actions of others. Sometimes spiritual warfare is in our own minds, bodies or attitudes. Just like Satan’s temptation of Adam and Even in the garden, spiritual war is designed to take our eyes off God’s promises and blessings, and put our focus on our own desires, lusts or ambitions or fears.
Nothing blocks our lines of communication with God like our own stubborn heart and selfish attitudes. God’s love for us never changes. We don’t earn his grace or attention by the quantity or volume of our prayers. Yet when we hold onto our will ahead of God’s, we stand in the way of God’s ability to answer our prayers. Our own will is at the heart of our hearts when we are displaying the works of the flesh, such as sexual immorality, impurity, idolatry, hatred, jealousy, selfish ambition, acts of rage.
A few years ago, I settled in for a movie night and the romantic comedy He’s Just Not That into You unfolded on the flat screen. The story followed the somewhat interconnected and relational dysfunction of nine people for 129 minutes. As the credits neared, the narrator finally divulged the movie’s thesis.
“Finding true love is the exception to the rule, the unexpected twist in life’s third act . . . Maybe we are so focused on finding a happy ending, we can’t learn how to read the signs . . . how to identify those who want us from those who don’t, the ones who will stay from the ones who will leave. Maybe a happy ending doesn’t include a wonderful guy. Maybe it’s you, on your own, picking up the pieces and starting over . . . maybe it’s just moving on.”
Many of us know Jer. 29.11. I have a mug on my desk imprinted with: “I know the plans that I have for you says the Lord. Plans to prosper you, not to harm you, plans to give you a hope, and a future.” (NIV)
Sometimes I claim this promise like it’s a magic charm, meant to ward off any bad days, or personal difficulty. But that’s not the message of this scripture. Take a minute and read Jer. 29.1-14 in context. God wrote this word through the prophet Jeremiah when:
Our street evangelism ministry was failing. For the third week, no one showed up for the weekend outreach, and in the dim glow of the streetlights, I asked God to continue his work. A few months later, Jeff and I had dinner. The next summer we started praying for Lansing, MI. once a week in his basement. Eight months later, after training and consulting our pastors, we walked into the porn stores and dark, sweaty bars in downtown Lansing, MI on a blustery February Friday evening. We introduced ourselves to our new congregation.