Friday, January 30, 2009

Who Should Praise God?

"Praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD from the heavens,

Praise him in the heights above.


Praise him, all his angels,
Praise him, all his heavenly hosts.


Praise him, sun and moon,
Praise him, all you shining stars.


Praise him, you highest heavens
and you waters above the skies.


Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for he commanded and they were created.


He set them in place for ever and ever;
he gave a decree that will never pass away.


Praise the LORD from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,
lightning and hail, snow and clouds,
stormy winds that do his bidding,
you mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars,
wild animals and all cattle,
small creatures and flying birds,
kings of the earth and all nations,
you princes and all rulers on earth,
young men and maidens,
old men and children.

Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for his name alone is exalted;
his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.


He has raised up for his people a horn,
the praise of all his saints,
of Israel, the people close to his heart.
Praise the LORD."

There is nothing more to be said; all creation is directed to Worship God.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

NO SHORTCUTS

"Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed."  Here's an acronym for you...kind of;
          T
       T I M E
    T I M E
T I M E
      E

What is the point?  There is NO SUBSTITUTE for Time.  Time is the thing we never have enough of...however, it is the one most essential ingredient to making any relationship work.  Not just time, but quality time.  Try making your marriage work without quality time; try keeping a friendship close without spending time together.  Doesn't work.

So...you probably know where I'm going...but let me ask this question; do you expect more from your relationship with God than the amount of time you're investing in that relationship?  In other words, do you expect Him to hear you, speak with you, be there when you need Him, answer your prayers, help you through tough times, keep you from sin and temptation, bless you with your needs, all without spending much time with Him?  Sounds like a one-sided relationship to me...

So where are you at?  I'm with you on the "doesn't seem to be enough time for everything" but...God has so much more for us.  He has plans for you, deeds for you to do that He prepared long ago, things He wants you to see and experience - He has an abundant life for you...but He needs some time with you.

Jesus; "I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of."

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Lesson from Marriage

The apostle Paul takes a lot of time in I Cor 7 to talk about marriage; specifically about some of the challenges facing those who are married and some of the advantages of being single.  The point I want to focus on is, well simply, the "point."  Read on; (I Cor 7:32-35, Message)

"I want you to live as free of complications as possible. When you're unmarried, you're free to concentrate on simply pleasing the Master. Marriage involves you in all the nuts and bolts of domestic life and in wanting to please your spouse, leading to so many more demands on your attention. The time and energy that married people spend on caring for and nurturing each other, the unmarried can spend in becoming whole and holy instruments of God. I'm trying to be helpful and make it as easy as possible for you, not make things harder. All I want is for you to be able to develop a way of life in which you can spend plenty of time together with the Master without a lot of distractions."

I think there's some simple observations we can make here that will help all of us live; whether married or single.

1) "When you're unmarried you're free to concentrate on simply pleasing the Master."  The point Paul is making is simply this; be devoted to God.  He is rightly observing that the more complicated your life gets; marriage, kids, jobs, etc - the harder it is to be solely devoted to God.  However, this isn't a command to remain unmarried, but it is an encouragement to...

2) "...develop a way of life in which you can spent plenty of time together with the Master..."

The point is this; is your life so complicated and cluttered that your relationship with Christ is anything but priority?  Are you able to spent plenty of time together with God...un-distracted time?

Paul is admonishing us to have a way of life that is devoted to God and allows for plenty of time with Him.  How are you doing...?

Friday, January 23, 2009

Are you living well?

I'm reading in I Corinthians right now, chapter 10 to be exact. Most of this chapter contains Paul's instructions about the freedoms we have in Christ and how to balance them with not causing others stumble by abusing your freedoms. Right in the middle of this chapter, verse 24 to be exact, this line jumped off the page at me;

"But the point is not to just get by. We want to live well, but our foremost efforts should be to help others live well." (The Message)

It jumped of the page becuase I had to confess in my own heart that too often I am just trying to get by.  There are many reasons, excuses and things that contribute to this, but most of all, I have not or have deferred the responsibility for my spiritual growth.  Or worse, I become content knowing I'm going to heaven but hanging on to things that I know God wants me to shed.  The 2nd part of this verse is what's really convicting; that the point is to help others live well.  It was Albert Einstein who said "Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile."

So the take away from this short verse is two-fold;
1) Are you living to "just get by" or are you actively pursuing a relationship with Christ?  After all, God promises we will find Him, but we will find Him only when we seek Him with all our heart.
2) Are you living for yourself, or are you living for others?  Remember the story of the sheep and the goats; the sheep were welcomed into God's kingdom becuase of what they did for others.  Remember the words of Jesus;

"For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it."

Monday, January 12, 2009

Rest...IV (Sabbath)


First, make sure you've read these blog posts...
Rest (part I)
Rest (part II)
Rest (part III)

Now before we move on to Rest (part IV), we must remember these two principles;
1) Sabbath = for US (Sabbath was created for man, not man for the Sabbath)
2) Sabbath = REST

Today is my Sabbath.  The past week was a very busy one and the coming three weeks look extremely busy for me.  Besides the usual load of pastoring, I have a couple of weeks in a row with Tue, Wed, Thur evening commitments, plus an all-day Saturday.  So all that to say, these Sabbath days are crucial for me right now. 

A couple of years ago I was attending a Leadership Conference where a pastor shared a message titled "Dead Leader Running."  Pastor Wayne Cordeiro is the pastor of an extremely large and successful church in Hawaii of all places.  At first I thought "what could a pastor in Hawaii possibly have to share that someone like me could benefit from?"  Well, it turns out, his message was a life saver for me, and many others who heard his message that day...(incidentally, if you want to purchase this session click on this link and do so - you won't regret it).  One of his principles was simple, but yet I'd never thought about it this way;

Principle: When your Drains increase, your Fills must also Increase.

Explanation: All of us have things in our life that drain us.  These drains can be anything; job stresses, extra meetings or nights out, conflict with people, too much people time (or not enough people time)...we're all different.  Similarly, we all have things that "fill" our emotional/spiritual tank.  For me, I crave time alone in the wilderness.  When I get time for hiking, photographing God's creation, I get my tank filled.

Now think for a moment; when life gets busy and the things in life that drain you increase, what's the first thing you stop doing?  Yep - you stop doing the things that fill you - the very things that you need when the stresses of life increase.

Now go back to our two Sabbath principles - when you couple together these two principles you arrive at a simple conclusion; Sabbath is a day set aside to "fill your tank."  Six days you work, one day you rest.  It is also time spent with God.  Invite Him with you on your Sabbath.  Rest, Re-energize, Re-focus, Re-connect with God.

So what about you?  When is the last time you took a day and set it aside to rest?  To be with God?  If it's been awhile, stop right now and mark on your calendar, and rest.

Exercise: if you don't know instantly the things that fill you and drain you, stop right now and consider these questions;
1) When do you feel most alive?  Who are you with?  Where are you?  What are you doing (or not doing)?  When you're finished, do you feel more alive, more rested, more filled?
2) When do you feel most drained?  What is on your calendar that you are dreading?

Labels