Thursday, October 31, 2013

Oct 31 - What's Really Scary on Halloween

P A R E N T I N G   A N D   C U L T U R A L   A D V I C E
What’s Really Scary on Halloween

The funniest news item of the week is actually rather revealing … and ultimately should be viewed as a prophetic (and scary) sign of the times in which we live.

Did you hear how supertankers and merchant ships in the Indian Ocean are scaring away Muslim (Somali) pirates?

They blast Brittany Spears music at them.

Literally.

These Muslims view western culture as offensive. And Brittany Spears represents the very worst we have to offer.

And guess what … this ought to be a prophetic shaming for us and our culture.

Pirates, by definition, have a compromised sense of morality. They willing plunder, steal, terrorize, and (if necessary) kill. But in their mind that’s not nearly as offensive as what we Americans invite into our living rooms on an almost nightly basic.

We set up an altar in our family rooms (the television). We turn every chair to face the altar. We gather our children before this altar. And even if it’s only for the commercials, we invite something that’s arguably worse than theft – provocativeness and sex – into our homes, into our children, and into our hearts.

Scary.
In Christ’s Love,
a child of our culture who’s
justified a lot of TV over the years
but has run out of excuses



Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Oct 30 - Parenting Fears

T O P   P A R E N T I N G   A D V I C E
What you fear … it reveals your heart
and determines your results

Fear is a funny word.

In modern English, “fear” almost always means worry, trembling, anxiousness, and falling down in fright.

In old English, “fear” also means “profound respect” – the kind that falls on its knees before king. That’s what is meant when scripture calls us to fear the Lord.

Yesterday I quoted Pediatrician Meg Meeker. Recently, after reminding us that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom …” (Proverbs 9:10), she made a profound observation about parenting. She said, “we’ve come to place in our parenting where we fear our children more than we fear the Lord … Good, solid, loving Christian parents [honor/prioritize] their children more than they [honor/prioritize] the Lord. … How did this happen?”

In her second reference, I obviously changed the words to “honor” and “prioritize,” but I want us to stick with “fear” for just a minute. What kind of fear are modern parents “taught” by society to treat their kids with?

I’d say it’s both.

First, nice, wonderful, engaging secular parents have no higher priority in their life than their kids. So they pour everything into them. And then Christian parents join the same clubs (or sports teams or scouting organizations, etc.) And as Christians we watch our peers “prioritize their kids.” And we say, “well, I ought to be at least as committed as they are.”
And then we see all this well-intended attention seem to push our kids an inch or two ahead of our kids (at least in the short run) and nice Christian parents become anxious (fearful). And we start prioritizing the wrong things too – accomplishments rather than character (see yesterday’s devotions).
Thus we begin following the world’s priorities “so that our kids won’t be left further behind.”
But, guess what?
More commitment to the world means what? Less time for our higher commitments – including God, faith, character, discipline, solitude, and Sabbath. Soon we join the world. We push our kids a few inches higher while simultaneously destroying their foundation. That’s one kind of fearful response.

The second is the most classic fearful kind of fear. Our culture teaches kids to distrust and disrespect their parents. And we turn them onto it when we turn on way too many of our culture’s sacred indoctrination tools – including television and self-esteem doctrines. Couple our children’s cynicism with the desire for most of us parents to be liked, and parents nowadays are extremely vulnerable.
Thus, for many, our highest goal in raising our kids is that they “like us.”
Wanting to be their friend, we fear their approval.
Thus we orient our parenting around “what makes our kids happy.” If they say they don’t want to do something – including “go to church” – we let their emotions reign in our house.
More and more, the child becomes the god, and Dr. Meeker’s right, we honor, prioritize, and fear our children more than we honor and prioritize God.
(I probably don’t have to tell you that this will have disastrous consequences for our youth because as adults the world will never revolve around them and we’re setting them up for a lifetime of disappointments.)

God has a simple solution. Fear me. And teach your kids to fear me. That’s the beginning of wisdom. And that’s the foundation of all success.

In Christ’s Love,
a former psychology major
who was taught by the gods of culture
and a bunch of psychobabbling lies
to prioritize my kids
… and I was saved (and my kids were too)
when I learned to prioritize God



Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Oct 29 - Top Parenting Advice

T O P   P A R E N T I N G   A D V I C E
You are not in charge of
your child(ren)’s success.

We all want our children to do well. But that must not be our primary goal as parents. In fact, it’s a dangerously false idol.

True success comes from character – not accomplishments. Deep down we all know this is true. We’ve seen it!
  •      We all know that in the long run, character is what produces the enduring accomplishments – like a lasting family, respect from our peers, a dependable track-record at work, and a faith-filled foundation that boldly weathers any of life’s storms.

  •      Character strives for excellence because doing our best glorifies God! But a performance driven mentality strives harder out of pride (seeking one’s own glory) or insecurity (feeling desperately like one is not measuring up). The twin pillars of pride and insecurity regularly defocus the gift of family, frequently step on or over peers, and is ultimately fragile in the face of life’s fiercest storms 

Occasionally, performance-driven personalities will indeed earn big money, climb the corporate ladder, and make notable accomplishments. But with too few spots at the very top, most peter out in the middle and live a life of dissatisfaction and regret (… and often they’re alone while doing this, having shed the gift of family while trying unsuccessfully to attain a long-forgotten goal).

Meanwhile the people of character are joyful and content with whatever life deals them … and even if it’s not a million dollars, they come home to family and friends who love them and they know personally the God who uplifts and sustains them. These are the ones who are truly rich.

Pediatrician Meg Meeker reminded me of this recently. Here’s a few pieces of her insight from last week’s Family Talk with Dr. James Dobson …

What’s gone wrong in our culture in the last forty or fifty years? …

Proverbs 9:10 says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom …” [But] we’ve come to place in our parenting where we fear our children more than we fear the Lord … Good, solid, loving Christian parents [honor/prioritize] their children more than they [honor/prioritize] the Lord. … How did this happen?

Well, we know how this happened because very insidiously and slowly over the past 30 years Satan has come in and used the nicest of our friends to just sort of make a few little changes in their parenting under the guise of being wonderful parents to focus more and more and more away from God and onto our children. …

Moms and dads are orbiting around our kids and God is orbiting around all of us in our family.

And this is a very important paradigm to understand – this shift that has taken place, if you go out and ask any garden variety, wonderful, Christian parent what his or her job is as a good parent, they will respond by saying something like, “My job as a godly dad is to provide a lot of opportunities for my child (Great!), to make sure that my child has a healthy self-esteem (Right!), … and by the way, my number one job as a mom is to make sure my child is happy all the time … and that they are successful.” …

Parents have never been so exhausted as they are today. … they’re frustrated … they know they’re not living right …  But they don’t know where to go. Why? Because they need to go back to the right starting place.

God is the right starting point. Character, then, is the primary fruit. Indeed, when we train a child’s heart in the way they should go, they thrive in all the ways that truly matter.

In Christ’s Love,
a dad who was fortunate
to have a wife who understood this
much earlier than I


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Oct 26 - How to Experience God's Presence (3C) PRACTICE: SEEK GOD'S FACE

Do you want more of the presence of God?
Today, we will discuss the third step of
Practice and Discipline and Making it Happen.

After we actively choose (yes, we want more of God), we must submit. We must give God the keys to our life. We must say, “Not my will, but thy will be done.”

Then we must practice the practical disciplines that draw us progressively closer to God.

On Thursday, we talked about prayer. It is talking … and listening.
Yesterday, we talked about meditating on God’s word. This is absolutely the clearest way to hear God’s voice.
Today, based on 2 Chronicles 7:14 (If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves … and pray … and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land),
we are invited to seek God’s face.

What does that mean?!!!

 3.     “And seek my face”

The final discipline is seeking God’s face. Another word for this is worship. As part of time with God, make sure to 1) thank him, 2) praise him, and 3) spend time worshipfully with him. For some it will involve more silence. For others it may mean singing a hymn of praise. Others, after reading and praying may want to walk outside and enjoy the beauty of his creation.

My wife, spends the first few moments of devotion on the back porch, looking out over creation, and thanking God (until she wakes up enough to focus on the more intentional parts of her discipline – which include scripture and prayer). (By the way, coffee is part of her routine. For her, the smell of coffee is both a reminder of God’s blessings and the scent of God’s presence getting ready to break in!)

Assignment: If you don’t know how to worship, praise, or seek God’s face, add one more minute to the two (plus) minutes of your prayer time, starting with telling God as many things as you can think of that you are thankful for. (Hint: I find doing this alphabetically helps me … God, I’m thankful for air that’s fresh, breakfast in a few minutes, children – Paul, Jay, and Rob, d …, e …, etc. )

Ahh … there’s one more practice, one more discipline …

When?!

I’d suggest first thing in the morning. And that’s from a person who is definitely not a morning person. Some days I’m not sure if I’m alive til noon! Nevertheless, if I don’t start with discipline, I seem to never fully make it back up.

Furthermore, morning provides us with one other blessing. When we start the day listening to God, we’re more likely to live that day with his guidance, purposes, and power (rather than charging out unarmed and unfocused).

There are three parts of this practice – prayer, word, and seeking God’s face. If you’re brand new to this, here’s how to start fitting this into your day …

     1.    Set your alarm ten minutes earlier …
     2.     Find a comfortable spot – away from distractions.
     3.    Optional: Get a cup of coffee.
     4.     Spend a few minutes with God.
 ·         One minute to praise.
 ·         Five minutes to read scripture.
 ·        Two minutes to pray.
 ·        Two minutes to listen
     5.        Repeat daily.
     6.        And you might eventually start enjoying it so much that you’ll jump out of bed fifteen or twenty minutes early!!!! (In fact, I’ll bet you will. But start simple.)

Friday, October 25, 2013

Oct 25 - How to Experience God's Presence (3B) PRACTICE: MEDITATE ON WORD

Do you want more of the presence of God?
Today, we will discuss the third step of
Practice and Discipline and Making it Happen.

Drawing closer to God is a three step process. 1) First, scripture tells us that we must intentionally choose to spend more time with God! 2) Second, God (through scripture) tells us that we need to humble ourselves, submit, and obey. 3) Third, we are called to be disciplined in continuing to draw nearer to God. We are calling this practice.

Yesterday, the first form of practice we talked about was prayer. Prayer is talking to God. It is listening to God. Most of all, prayer is the primary channel for developing a relationship with God.

Today we talk about the second of these three steps: Meditating on God’s Word. This indeed is what God called the Israelites to do if they wanted to be successful living his land – “This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night” (Joshua 1:8

2. “Meditate [on his Word] day and night” (Joshua 1:8)

Scripture is the second way in which we listen. Why? Because scripture is literally God’s Word. While my prayerful listening is important, it is often subjective. The written Word is clear, objective, and unchanging. God has promised to meet us on these pages. Indeed, he’s intentionally revealed himself here.

Assignment 1: Pray to develop a hunger for the Word of God. At first, reading scripture can be hard and it may require intentional discipline. As you become more familiar with “sound of God’s word” and as a hunger develops, reading scripture can be your day’s greatest joy.

Assignment 2: Read (at least) a “section” a day. What’s a “section”? If you do not already have a reading plan, let me give you some suggestions:
  •       Read a Psalm a Day; or …
  •       Or … read a New Testament chapter a day; or …
  •       Or … if you’re less experienced with reading scripture find a good devotional book that starts with a scripture passage (a good devotional will help you make sense of the scripture passage) BUT THEN ALSO look up in the Bible that Scripture passage and read the paragraphs surrounding the scripture that you found in the devotion (this will help you learn to make sense of verses in context and gradually acquaint you with more of scripture).   

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Oct 24 - How to Experience God's Presence (3) PRACTICE

Do you want more of the presence of God?
Today I offer the third of a three-step process.

On Tuesday, we discussed the first step in drawing closer to the presence of God. We must intentionally choose to spend less time with other things and more time with God! “Just do it!” as Nike says.

Yesterday, we addressed the second step. We need to be less proud, rebellious, and compromised. We need to humble ourselves, submit, and obey. Indeed, we said, “start by attacking the one big thing that you know you’re holding back.”

Today we focus on the final step – practice.
  •      We need to craft a disciplined way of spending time with God daily.
  •      And we need to keep practicing it until we experience more and more and more of God’s presence.
  •      That doesn’t mean we can’t tweak and adjust the details of the plan. But our discipline must be consistent until we break-through to God’s greater blessing.

Here again are the three scriptures that will guide our daily discipline …
  •      Joshua 1:4 [God said … When you] cross … into the land … 6 be … 7 careful to act in accordance with all the law … 8 [Furthermore,] this book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night … 11 [Then Joshua commanded] “… in three days you are to cross over the Jordan, to go in to take possession of the land that the Lord your God gives you to possess.'"

  •       Joshua 3:15 [When] the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the … flood, 16 the waters flowing from above stood still.

  •      2 Chronicles 7:14 if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves … and pray … and seek my face … and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land.

Step 3: Practice

If you want to experience the Presence of God it is imperative that your daily discipline includes three primary elements (and then anything you want to add to make it more joyful and purposeful for you) …

            1.  “Pray” (2 Chron 7:14)
Prayer is a conversation. It is talking. It is also listening – part one of listening involves silence, solitude, and stillness (which is hard in a busy, noisy world), part two is below.

Most of all, prayer is relationship. It is sitting regularly in God’s Presence – whether you can feel it or not – until a relationship develops. And that’s why I say it takes practice and discipline.

Assignment: If you don’t do either of these pieces already, spend two minutes a day speaking to God AND spend two minutes a day (in silence) listening for God. (Since my mind wanders, I have to have a phrase from scripture or a scripture-inspired picture – like Jesus as a shepherd – to focus on as I’m otherwise sitting in silence.)

     2.   “Meditate [on his Word] day and night” (Joshua 1:8)

Scripture is the second way in which we listen. Why? Because scripture is literally God’s Word. While my prayerful listening is important, it is often subjective. The written Word is clear, objective, and unchanging. God has promised to meet us on these pages. Indeed, he’s intentionally revealed himself here.

Assignment 1: Pray to develop a hunger for the Word of God. At first, reading scripture can be hard and it may require intentional discipline. As you become more familiar with “sound of God’s word” and as a hunger develops, reading scripture can be your day’s greatest joy.

Assignment 2: Read (at least) a “section” a day. What’s a “section”? If you do not already have a reading plan, let me give you some suggestions:
  •      Read a Psalm a Day; or …
  •      Or … read a New Testament chapter a day; or …
  •      Or … if you’re less experienced with reading scripture find a good devotional book that starts with a scripture passage (a good devotional will help you make sense of the scripture passage) BUT THEN ALSO look up in the Bible that Scripture passage and read the paragraphs surrounding the scripture that you found in the devotion (this will help you learn to make sense of verses in context and gradually acquaint you with more of scripture).   

     3.  “And seek my face”

The final discipline is seeking God’s face. Another word for this is worship. As part of time with God, make sure to 1) thank him, 2) praise him, and 3) spend time worshipfully with him. For some it will involve more silence. For others it may mean singing a hymn of praise. Others, after reading and praying may want to walk outside and enjoy the beauty of his creation.

My wife, spends the first few moments of devotion on the back porch, looking out over creation, and thanking God (until she wakes up enough to focus on the more intentional parts of her discipline – which include scripture and prayer). (By the way, coffee is part of her routine. For her, the smell of coffee is both a reminder of God’s blessings and the scent of God’s presence getting ready to break in!)

Assignment: If you don’t know how to worship, praise, or seek God’s face, add one more minute to the two (plus) minutes of your prayer time, starting with telling God as many things as you can think of that you are thankful for. (Hint: I find doing this alphabetically helps me … God, I’m thankful for air that’s fresh, breakfast in a few minutes, children – Paul, Jay, and Rob, d …, e …, etc. )

Ahh … there’s one more practice, one more discipline … When?! I’d suggest first thing in the morning. And that’s from a person who is definitely not a morning person. Some days I’m not sure if I’m alive til noon! Nevertheless, if I don’t start with discipline, I seem to never fully make it back up.

Furthermore, morning provides us with one other blessing. When we start the day listening to God, we’re more likely to live that day with his guidance, purposes, and power (rather than charging out unarmed and unfocused).

So … if you’re new to this, set your alarm ten minutes earlier.
  •      One minute to praise.
  •      Five minutes to read scripture.
  •      Two minutes to pray.
  •      Two minutes to listen.



Oct 24 - How to Experience God's Presence (3A) PRACTICE: PRAY

Do you want more of the presence of God?
Today I offer the third of a three-step process.

On Tuesday, we discussed the first step in drawing closer to the presence of God. We must intentionally choose to spend less time with other things and more time with God! “Just do it!” as Nike says.

Yesterday, we addressed the second step. We need to be less proud, rebellious, and compromised. We need to humble ourselves, submit, and obey. Indeed, we said, “start by attacking the one big thing that you know you’re holding back.”

Today we focus on the final step – practice.
  •      We need to craft a disciplined way of spending time with God daily.
  •      And we need to keep practicing it until we experience more and more and more of God’s presence.

     That doesn’t mean we can’t tweak and adjust the details of the plan. But our discipline must be consistent until we break-through to God’s greater blessing.
Here again are the three scriptures that will guide our daily discipline …
  •      Joshua 1:4 [God said … When you] cross … into the land … 6 be … 7 careful to act in accordance with all the law … 8 [Furthermore,] this book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night … 11 [Then Joshua commanded] “… in three days you are to cross over the Jordan, to go in to take possession of the land that the Lord your God gives you to possess.'"

  •       Joshua 3:15 [When] the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the … flood, 16 the waters flowing from above stood still.

  •       2 Chronicles 7:14 if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves … and pray … and seek my face … and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land.

Step 3: Practice

If you want to experience the Presence of God it is imperative that your daily discipline includes three primary elements (and then anything you want to add to make it more joyful and purposeful for you) …

     1.     “Pray” (2 Chron 7:14)

Prayer is a conversation. It is talking. It is also listening – part one of listening involves silence, solitude, and stillness (which is hard in a busy, noisy world), part two is below.

Most of all, prayer is relationship. It is sitting regularly in God’s Presence – whether you can feel it or not – until a relationship develops. And that’s why I say it takes practice and discipline.

Assignment: If you don’t do either of these pieces already, spend two minutes a day speaking to God AND spend two minutes a day (in silence) listening for God. (Since my mind wanders, I have to have a phrase from scripture or a scripture-inspired picture – like Jesus as a shepherd – to focus on as I’m otherwise sitting in silence.)

OCTOBER 25

     2.    “Meditate [on his Word] day and night” (Joshua 1:8)

Scripture is the second way in which we listen. Why? Because scripture is literally God’s Word. While my prayerful listening is important, it is often subjective. The written Word is clear, objective, and unchanging. God has promised to meet us on these pages. Indeed, he’s intentionally revealed himself here.

Assignment 1: Pray to develop a hunger for the Word of God. At first, reading scripture can be hard and it may require intentional discipline. As you become more familiar with “sound of God’s word” and as a hunger develops, reading scripture can be your day’s greatest joy.

Assignment 2: Read (at least) a “section” a day. What’s a “section”? If you do not already have a reading plan, let me give you some suggestions:
a.     Read a Psalm a Day; or …
b.     Or … read a New Testament chapter a day; or …
c.      Or … if you’re less experienced with reading scripture find a good devotional book that starts with a scripture passage (a good devotional will help you make sense of the scripture passage) BUT THEN ALSO look up in the Bible that Scripture passage and read the paragraphs surrounding the scripture that you found in the devotion (this will help you learn to make sense of verses in context and gradually acquaint you with more of scripture).   

OCTOBER 26

     3. “And seek my face”

The final discipline is seeking God’s face. Another word for this is worship. As part of time with God, make sure to 1) thank him, 2) praise him, and 3) spend time worshipfully with him. For some it will involve more silence. For others it may mean singing a hymn of praise. Others, after reading and praying may want to walk outside and enjoy the beauty of his creation.

My wife, spends the first few moments of devotion on the back porch, looking out over creation, and thanking God (until she wakes up enough to focus on the more intentional parts of her discipline – which include scripture and prayer). (By the way, coffee is part of her routine. For her, the smell of coffee is both a reminder of God’s blessings and the scent of God’s presence getting ready to break in!)

Assignment: If you don’t know how to worship, praise, or seek God’s face, add one more minute to the two (plus) minutes of your prayer time, starting with telling God as many things as you can think of that you are thankful for. (Hint: I find doing this alphabetically helps me … God, I’m thankful for air that’s fresh, breakfast in a few minutes, children – Paul, Jay, and Rob, d …, e …, etc. )

Ahh … there’s one more practice, one more discipline … When?! I’d suggest first thing in the morning. And that’s from a person who is definitely not a morning person. Some days I’m not sure if I’m alive til noon! Nevertheless, if I don’t start with discipline, I seem to never fully make it back up.

Furthermore, morning provides us with one other blessing. When we start the day listening to God, we’re more likely to live that day with his guidance, purposes, and power (rather than charging out unarmed and unfocused).

So … if you’re new to this, set your alarm ten minutes earlier.

     One minute to praise.
     Five minutes to read scripture.
     Two minutes to pray.
     Two minutes to listen.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Oct 23 - How to Experience God's Presence (2) SUBMIT

Do you want more of the presence of God?
Today I offer the second of a three-step process.

Yesterday we said that the first step to experiencing more of the Presence of God is to choose. We must want it. We must choose it. We must do it. According to Joshua 3, that means stepping bolding into the flood. And it means choosing time with God instead of time with other activities that we normally choose instead.

Today we take the second step: Submit. Here are our guiding verses …
  •      Joshua 1:4 [God said … When you] cross … into the land … 6 be … 7 careful to act in accordance with all the law … 8 [Furthermore,] this book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night … 11 [Then Joshua commanded] “… in three days you are to cross over the Jordan, to go in to take possession of the land that the Lord your God gives you to possess.'"

  •      Joshua 3:15 [When] the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the … flood, 16 the waters flowing from above stood still.

  •      2 Chronicles 7:14 if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves … and pray … and seek my face … and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land.

Step 2: Submit

The biggest barrier to experiencing the presence of God is …

… us.

We say that we want God, but we continually want to do things our way. (We call that disobedience.)
We say that we want God, but we keep insisting that we have a better way and that we know what’s best for ourselves. (We call that pride.)
We say that we want God, but we hold back parts of our lives, refusing to give God full access – “He can have me, except he can’t have my ___________.” (We call that a failure-to-submit-everything-to-him.)
We say that we want more of God, but flat out like some of our bad habits. (We call that sin.)

The passages above reveal the next step. It is humbleness, obedience, and submission.

      1.     2 Chronicles 7:14 implores us to “humble [our]selves,” and humbleness is obviously a form of submission.

      2.     Joshua 1:7 tells us to “be careful to act in accordance with all the law.” Obedience is another obvious form of submission. And notice the percentage of obedience that God requires. It’s 100%. We’re called to devote ALL. It’s no more picking and choosing and excusing.

Yes, we’ll still sin and fall short. And yes, God will absolutely still forgive. But we must not continue being so na├»ve as to that when can dwell in his presence when we’re still intentionally living in (and excusing) sin.

Assignment: My favorite way to discuss this is to attack the one big thing that’s holding you back. You know what it is. Name it? What’s your one big thing that you’ve so far continued to refuse to give to God?





Assignment: Today, what do you know you need to change?


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Oct 22 -- How to Experience God's Presence (1) CHOOSE

Do you want more of the presence of God?
Today I offer the first of a three-step process.

If we misunderstand the Presence of God, we view it a noun, a thing, something that sits there.
  •      Number one, God – and his Presence – is active, moving, living, breathing, and transforming. His Presence is a verb 
  •       Number two, we are invited to make our experience of his Presence a verb too! We don’t want our faith to be more than something that just sits there. As Paul describes it – and listen for the verbs – “in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).

Is that how you experience God’s Presence?!

If you want to grow in this awareness, let me commend to you three verbs – choose, submit, and practice. I base these actions on scripture – on scripture related 1) to Israel coming into the Promised Land / into the Presence of God (Joshua 1 and 3) and 2) continuing to living successfully in the land / in God’s Presence (2 Chronicles 7:14)
  •      Joshua 1:4 [God said … When you] cross … into the land … 6 be … 7 careful to act in accordance with all the law … 8 [Furthermore,] this book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night … 11 [Then Joshua commanded] “… in three days you are to cross over the Jordan, to go in to take possession of the land that the Lord your God gives you to possess.'"

  •      Joshua 3:15 [When] the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the … flood, 16 the waters flowing from above stood still.

  •      2 Chronicles 7:14 if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves … and pray … and seek my face … and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land.

Step 1: Choose

If we are going to achieve access to the Presence of God (our Promised Land), we have to consciously choose to accept the gift that God has promised and is already giving …
  •      We don’t get it by just standing comfortable where we are. We must be bold. We must step into the flood! And then – and only then, precisely then! – will he stop the waters

  •      In fact, we need to “Just do it!” He’s already given us the territory (“the land … God gives you” – already gives you.)


It’s a choice.

Do you want more of God’s presence? It’s just waiting there for you. God has it in a gift wrapped package with a big red bow. But you have to take the first step. You must choose.

And that means, that the first step is to change. If you want more of him, you have to spend more time with him (and less time with certain other things in the world).

Assignment: Today, what do you know you need to change?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Oct 21 - Presence = Fullness and Joy

You show me the path of life.
In your presence there is fullness of joy.
Psalm 16:11

God brought Israel into the Promised Land.

And God wants to bring you into the Promised Land. But what is YOUR Promised Land?

Yesterday at church, I made the case that God’s Presence is our greatest blessing and is, thus, our true Promised Land. (Quick analysis: In the Old Testament physical places sometimes prefigured New Testament spiritual realities. For example, where did God’s people go to meet God in the Old Testament? To a physical temple made of stone. In the New Testament where do God’s people meet him? To a spiritual place, deep within their hearts. The Apostle says, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells within you?” – 1 Cor 3:16.)

Just as the Promised Land existed as a physical reality -- whether or not the Israelites were living there or wandering in the wilderness – God’s presence (our spiritual Promised Land) exists as a spiritual reality (and a spiritual guarantee to all believers) whether we are experiencing it daily or choosing to continue wandering in a prolonged spiritual wilderness.

That’s a long sentence. Read it again and again until it sinks in. Are you experiencing God’s presence daily and powerfully? Or are you still wandering in a spiritual wilderness?

God’s presence is promised (indeed, guaranteed) to all believers. Thus, if you are not experiencing it fully, the problem is on your end, not on God’s. Tomorrow, I’ll help you discover how to receive the blessing of God’s presence more and more fully. Today, I simply want to help you desire that gift!

What is the blessing of God’s presence in our life? Read today’s verse.

      It is fullness.
      It is joy.
     And it is guidance. This Psalm tells us that God wants to show you the path to life … to true life … to full life … to joyful life … to abundance, peace, hope, encouragement, and blessing.

That’s what just one verse says! And that’s just the tip of the iceberg of God’s revelation about His Presence! Do you want to discover the fullness of life? Do you want to discover abundance, peace, hope, blessing, and joy?!! If so, it’s time to choose. Will it be more wilderness or more Presence?! (And what’s the one thing, the one sin, the one lacking discipline that you know you need to do to escape the wilderness and discover God more fully?!)

In Christ’s Love,
a guy who’s shaking any remaining
wilderness dust off his feet
and is chasing after God!


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Oct 17 - Question 4

He who conceals his sins
does not prosper,
but whoever confesses and
renounces them finds mercy.
Proverbs 28:13

Wait … Do NOT write me back on this one. You may not want to spin it out into cyberspace. Here’s the question …

What is your one big thing that you know is hurting you, harming you, and holding you back?

So here is an answerable question:

Have you told anyone who is willing to hold you accountable?

As you’ve heard me say, sin is like a vampire. It thrives in the dark. But when you bring it out into the light, it dies. That’s why Solomon says, “He who conceals his sins does not prosper.”

Now, do not confess your sin in a way that will ever hurt anyone. Rather, confess it to a friend who will hold you accountable … and will help you (if necessary) to find a way to be truthful and make reparations.

This is part of the path to freedom.

In Christ’s Love,
a vampire slayer






Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Oct 16 - Question 4

Out of the wilderness …
and into the Promised Land …

Today, I’m just going to ask the question … and then after you think and respond to make sure you read my confession!

What are you most disappointed with in your life?

RIGHT
NOW,
WRITE
ME
YOUR
ANSWER
BEFORE
I
SHOW
YOU
MY
ANSWER.

JUST
BELOW
IS
MY
ANSWER.

BUT
I
WANT
YOU
TO
THINK
ABOUT
YOUR
LIFE
ACTIVELY …
BEFORE
FOCUSING
ON
MINE
PASSIVELY!!!

SO
WHAT
DO
YOU
COMPLAIN
ABOUT
MOST?

I asked Mary Louise, “What would you say I’m most disappointed with in my life?”

And she said, “Well, I think you’re disappointed in _________.” And I stopped her and said, “No. I was formerly disappointed in that, but I’m talking about right now.”

So she said, “Well, I think you’re disappointed in __________.” And I stopped her and said, “No. I I was formerly disappointed in that, but I’m talking about right now.”

All of us have regrets. I’ve done a million things that range from silly and immature to sinful and hurtful. I’ve got plenty of regrets, but as I said to Mary Louise, “I’m talking about right now.”

And when I realized that, I fully comprehended the importance of this question. (Given, by the way, by Kyle Idleman, who wrote Not a Fan).

The weight of this question is two-fold.
  •      First, am I living in the past or in the present? If I’m living in the past, old emotions like guilt can swallow me in the present. Sometimes my guilt is over things I’ve done. Sometimes it’s over things I’ve left undone (like the opportunity I didn’t chase, and I can’t get out of my head how much better my life would be if I would have just done ___________.) Do you see the first prison of dwelling in the past?

  •      Guilt can swallow us for a second reason. Why do we carry guilt? Because we aren’t trusting God to really be able to fully and truly forgive. We say essentially, “I can’t forgive myself. How can God forgive me?” That’s a huge spiritual issue.

  •      Similar to guilt, unforgiveness is another first-form of bondage to our hurts and disappointments. Way too many people are mean and cruel and abusive, and way too many of us have been hurt – badly, badly, badly, badly. Just like we deal with war vets and post-traumatic stress, abuse has battered too many good souls years and years after the event(s). It may take a lot of good counseling, but healing begins to occur when we quit facing backward and focus as Jesus suggested (in Matthew 6:34) on today. 

Again and again I kept saying to Mary Louise, “No. I was formerly disappointed in that, but I’m talking about right now.” Suddenly it dawned on me: While I definitely have past regrets from my life … right now I AM not disappointed in anything in life!!!”

That’s huge!!! The daily, mundane, routine attempts to follow Jesus as a disciple is having a huge impact on my life!!! Sometimes we want big, splashy, and immediate results. But I’m seeing a canyon of faith being deeply cut … one day … after another … after another. One of my favorite Christian book titles ever was, “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction.” It works!!!

When I pressed Mary Louise about what I was formerly most disappointed in, she said, other people. “You set high standards for what needed to be done, and you got angry when people didn’t live up to your expectations.” Ouch. But what about now? Yes, people can still disappoint me, but I don’t hurt for me (because my worth is measured in God’s eyes and not in my accomplishments that they are either helping or slowing) … rather, I hurt for them. God has peace and love and blessing, and people I love keep turning the other way.

I’m not disappointed in anything in my current God-centered life.

But I am constantly and increasing disappointed that people aren’t discovering personally this gift that can be for them too.