1.30.15–>”Keeping God In Mind Always–Unceasing Conversational Prayer”

Quotation-Frank-C-Laubach-conversation-prayer-listening-god-Meetville-Quotes-52636

Psalm 16:8

I keep the Lord in mind always. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Some translations render it, “I keep the Lord in front of me always.”

How do we keep the Lord in mind at all times? How do we “take Him with us” wherever we go?

One method I have found very helpful over the years is to turn my inner thoughts into dialogue with Jesus. It’s simple. It’s beautiful. And it helps to remind of the truth that Jesus is alive and active.

Instead of just thinking at some point during the day, “I’m so tired,” I turn it into, “Jesus, I am so tired right now” (not in a cursing way). And this inevitably goes into something like, “Please give me some energy for this next thing.” Then we talk about that and stuff. And then it just keeps going…You get the point.

It’s a wonderful discipline and quite life-giving.  One for which I am extremely grateful.

If you’d like to know just how far it can go, you might read the short book Letters by a Modern Mystic* by Frank Laubach. Very inspiring. It’s been a key book for me on my journey toward God.

*Read excerpts here

*Buy it here

1.29.15–>”Artherosclerosis”

Artherosclerosis

 Hard heart

Hebrews 4:1-10

So we are bound to worry that some of you might seem to have missed out on God’s promise of entering His rest, the promise which is still open before us.

Today, if you hear His voice, Don’t harden your hearts.

Hardening of the arteries constricts the flow of oxygen and blood from the heart to other vital organs in your body. Hardening your heart to God’s voice constricts the flow of God, and hence love, to and through you. To harden your heart is to make it impenetrable. Nothing gets through. Nothing is received. 

But to soften your heart is to enter a posture of reception and absorption. It is an openness to that still small voice of God that gently keeps nudging you. What is that thing you keep hearing? What is that recurring theme in your head that is calling to you? That inner voice?

If it is gentle and peaceable, it is the Holy Spirit inviting you to rest. And rest comes via responding to that voice.

My spiritual partner and I have learned over the last four years that obeying that voice immediately is best for our soul, for there is something wonderful to come of it, not least of which being rest for our souls.

Spiritual rest. Sabbath.

If you want rest for your soul, listen to God everywhere and respond affirmatively. You won’t regret it. Sometimes it may seem scary or insane, but there’s also a sense of peace in that it’s just something you can’t not do. Sometimes it’s just simple like, “Give this person a call,” or “Go visit that person who has been sick.” You know you’ve heard it, a person’s name or face just keeps popping up in your head. That may just be the Holy Spirit asking you to take some sort of peaceful action to bless someone else and consequently bring you into His rest.

There are a few solid, bank-your-life-on-it truths we’ve learned these past few years of the journey, and this is definitely one of them. Obey the inner voice, and it will be very good. Obey it Today. It will keep calling, but God forbid you harden to the point of no longer hearing it. Hebrews warns sternly against this, the consequences being devastating.

Pay attention.

Listen and respond.

Listen and respond.

Listen and respond.

What do you keep hearing?

How is God inviting you to respond to Him and enter His rest?

In the Name of Jesus,
Soli Deo Gloria

1.28.15–>”Encourage”

Hebrews 3:13-14,19

 

Take care, my dear family, that none of you should possess an evil and unbelieving heart, leading you to withdraw from the living God. But encourage one another every day, as long as it’s called “Today,” so that none of you may become hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
So we can see that it was their unbelief that prevented them from entering.

In a sense, we could say that all sin emanates from a lack of belief that God has our best interests at heart.

This is one thing we could use reminding of every day which would definitely fall under the category of encouragement.

Instead of giving in to those questioning voices of, “Did God really say…?” and “Does God really care about you?” or “Does God really want what’s best for you? Sure doesn’t look like it,” we can rest assured by the true voice “I love you more than you know,” “I work everything out for good,” I only want what’s best for you,” and “I just want to grow you into Me.”

May we remind each other daily of what is true and good and beautiful.

That everything we do matters.

That we are loved merely due to the fact that we exist.

In the Name of Jesus,
Soli Deo Gloria

1.27.15–>”Another Great Intro”

OC3

From the other little O.C. book I have:

Tell me to exercise, eat well, and be nice, and I understand the commands. I know what to do. I might not always obey, but I know what is expected of me. But being told to love doing these things leaves me in a quandary. I eat vegetables because I know they’re good for me, but I certainly can’t say that I love eating them. I can’t even say that I prefer them over chocolate.

Various definitions indicate that love is an intense feeling of affection or desire or a strong emotional attachment. According to Oswald Chambers, “Love is the sovereign preference of my person for another person, and Jesus Christ demands that that other person be Himself.”

When asked about the greatest commandment, Jesus summarized it with a single word: Love. He then stated the priorities of love–love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. To comprehend love as a command requires a major shift in thinking. How can we obey a command to feel or prefer something? We tend to think of love as something that happens to us, not something that we can call up on command or dish out on demand. Love has an emotional component that we cannot create.

The reason genuine love is difficult is because it is in fact impossible. We cannot love apart from God because God is love. We love because He first loved us. We can behave in loving ways, but that is not the same as loving. After all, no one would argue that being nice is the same as being in love!

In Workmen for God, Chambers wrote:

“This work of feeding and tending sheep is hard, arduous work and love for the sheep alone will not do it, you must have a consuming love for the great Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ…Love for men as men will never stand the strain…You must have a consuming passion of love, then He will flow through you in a passion of love and yearning and draw men to Himself.”

Genuine love comes from God and flows through us. When we behave badly toward someone, it’s not because we have failed in our efforts to love; it’s because we have suppressed the love of God which He wants to express through us.

When we begin to comprehend God’s great love for us, we in turn love Him. And our love for Him will change the world.

-Julie Ackerman Link

 

1.27.15–>”God’s Orchestrated Concidences”

God’s Orchestrated Coincidences

OC2

More times than I can count now, I have just “happened” to pick up a book by chance and inevitably read what I’ve just been thinking, writing, or reflecting on. This happened yesterday. Reflecting on becoming one with God as the point of our entire lives, I read the intro to this little gem, a collection of Oswald Chambers’ writings on peace and joy. Here is that intro, written by Julie Ackerman link:

Joy and peace. Peace and joy. The two are such close friends that we seldom find them alone. They show up together in greetings, in salutations, and in prayers. They are nearly inseparable during the Christmas season. And no wonder. Are any gifts more desirable than joy and peace? They are two of the most needed and valued states of being. They represent the end of longing and the satisfaction of desire.

Few things bring greater joy than a peaceful resolution to a conflict. If you estranged from a loved one, will any gift from that person, no matter how expensive, bring as much joy as reconciliation? Surely not. If you have a wayward son or daughter, nothing is more welcome than peace restored.

Joy and peace are companions. We can’t entertain them separately.

The lack of joy and peace indicate dissatisfaction. And all dissatisfaction ultimately goes back to God; it’s an expression of our disappointment with Him. For the Christian, joy and peace come from reconciliation with God first and then with others. According to Oswald Chambers, joy comes when we are fulfilling the purpose for which God created us, and doing so requires that we be reconciled to Christ in such a way that makes us:

one in identity with the faith of Jesus, one in identity with the love of Jesus, one in identity with the Spirit of Jesus until we are so one in Him until the high-priestly prayer not only begins to be answered, but is clearly manifest in its answering-“that they may be one, even as We are one.”

Being one with Christ not only brings us into peace with God but gives us the actual peace of Christ. This peace is unshakeable. No trouble or conflict or crisis can take it from us. And that is pure joy.

Joy and peace throw their arms around us in celebration when we become one with Christ and then become reconciled to one another.

May the God of all peace grant us the joy of full participation in His plan of reconciling all things to Himself and restoring peace to planet earth.

In the Name of Jesus,
Soli Deo Gloria

1.26.15–>”Why Do I Live Here?”

“Why Do I Live Here?!”

Zayra

This is what our daughter Zayra said last nite after being told she could not watch any videos the rest of the day.

Well it’s a fair question. And maybe one we should ask ourselves regularly. It reminds me of what my buddy Sam said he has to stop and ask himself when getting upset about something,”What’s the point of my entire life?”

What is the point? Why do we live here?

What if it’s true that Jesus lived out perfectly what it is to be fully and truly human? Humanity 2.0 if you will. He lived 100% animated by God in all He said, in all He did, in how He saw people and the world, in how He listened, in how He worked, in how He ate, in how He prayed…He was one with God.

What if that is the whole point? To be another Jesus, who is the prototype of a new humanity. To be fully animated by His Spirit, just as He was fully animated by the Father. He was clear on the fact that He did and said nothing unless He first received it from God the Father.

Man, was He tuned in. One with God.

And God is love.

I keep coming back to becoming an unconditional love machine. I think that’s it. I think that is the healing of the nations. To act only in response to what we hear from our Triune Father. And this comes from tuning in to Him consistently over time. The dialing in to the frequency of God requires those disciplines of mind, body, and spirit everyday. Training ourselves to listen, and therefore, to hear more clearly the voice of YHWH.

I believe we live here to bring glory to God by becoming one with Him, more and more seeing how He sees, hearing how He hears, doing what He wills, thinking of others how He does–in compassion and selflessness–loving the hell out of everybody. And this includes seeing ourselves how He sees us–having infinite value and worth.

What if any situation or circumstance could be used to conform us to the image of God’s Son–if we acknowledged it as such, surrendered to it, and listened for God in the midst of it in order to respond to Him how He would have us?

Would we not live lives of love and fearlessness, becoming more and more immune (but not totally in this life) to discouragement because of the increasing ability to see right through it and trust God no matter how it looks?

“O Lord our God, you deserve to receive glory and honor and power, because you created all things; because of your will they existed and were created.” Revelation 4:11

Those He foreknew, you see, He also marked out in advance to be shaped according to the model of the image of His Son, so that He might be the firstborn of a large family. Romans 8:29

In the Name of Jesus,
Soli Deo Gloria

1.25.15–>”A Very Short Thought On Prayer”

Time and Being With God

Gethsemene

Until you are convinced that prayer is the best use of your time, you will not find the time for prayer.

-Fr. Hilary Ottensmeyer, a deceased monk of Saint Meinrad Archabbey 

If you are not growing in your prayer life, then you are not maturing as a Christ follower.

Prayer is the best use of our time because it aligns us with Christ-in thought and word and deed-like nothing else possibly can.

In the Name of Jesus, 
Soli Deo Gloria

1.24.15–>”Hamartia”

Missing the Mark

Miss mark effected

The Greek word hamartia is the word most often used in the New Testament for sin. It means “missing the mark.” I’ve been told it’s a term that was used in archery, though my research in big books with big words has yet to confirm that this is what the gospel writers had in mind.
So what is the “mark” that is missed? From the whole of Scripture, it appears that the mark is union with God. This, the mystics tell us, is the point of it all. To be one with God. From beginning to end, Scripture tells us of a God who desires to be with His people. He made us for Himself, to be in fellowship with Him.  And the Bible is all about His forms of mediation with His people, culminating in the ultimate mediator, His Son. We so often think of sin simply as screwing up, violating the rule, something to feel guilty about. But what if it’s deeper than that? Like, much deeper.
During our daughters’ first year at Oaks Academy I heard one of the staff communicate that they teach the children that sin is “anything that damages relationship.” That really stuck with me, it was such a rich definition. And that’s really it, isn’t it? Even theologians tells us that sin is anything that takes us in the direction away from God, away from fellowship with Him. Away from what we were actually made for!That is the deeper layer, and what really hurts–taking ourselves away from closeness with God by violating what keeps us close to Him. Our Creator designed us to live life in affectionate relationship with Him, in consanguinity*. Brain study is just now telling us what God has been telling us all along for thousands of years, that we are wired for connection. I wonder if it makes Him chuckle when He sees scientists publish these articles of “Hey, We’re built for Connection!” Well….yeah. (Ana showed me a really great article the other nite on how we are made to connect and how deep connection is the true healing for addiction. It appeared to be a “secular” article**.)

 

So the pain of missing the mark is not feeling like a pathetic idiot who messed up for the 400th time, it’s the breaking of fellowship with our Creator for which we were designed. It’s what all the commandments lead to–right relationship. With God. With each other. All of the Ten Commandments are about relationship. Even the keeping of the Sabbath. Think about it. When you don’t take a break to rest, recharge, and refuel, you become quite the butt clown to deal with. I do. I get agitated more easily, impatient, an overall jackhole. So God graciously gives us Sabbath to rest, not to ignore, so that we may remain relationally well connected to Him and others.

So perhaps we need to rethink what sin is. Or think more deeply about it may be a better way to say it. It is missing the mark, yes. But that mark is way deeper than simple rule keeping. That mark is our purpose and design. That mark is close, intimate connection with God. And missing that, misses everything for which we were made.

*http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/consanguinity

**http://www.huffingtonpost.com/johann-hari/the-real-cause-of-addicti_b_6506936.html

In the Name of Jesus, 

Soli Deo Gloria

1.23.15–>”Instrument of Your Peace”

Instrument of Your Peace

St. Francis 2


St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226)

 

Lord, make me an intsrument of Your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is friction, union;
Where there is error, truth;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

In the Name of Jesus, 
Soli Deo Gloria