Getting What You Need

Have you ever noticed how prosperity preachers often take the Word of God out of context? For example, we’ve seen a big smiling grin quote Luke 11; 11-13

” If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?  If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”

That big toothy grin is trying to imply is that God will give you whatever you ask for and to buy his book telling you how to get more. Feed the greed. They are called “The blab it and grab it” crowd. Yet if we look at what the text really says, it doesn’t say that the father in question gives his child bread, fish or an egg either. The child just doesn’t get something bad that will hurt him. In fact Luke 11; 1-13 is about the Holy Spirit and how they ask for that saving gift like John the Baptist teaches his followers.

John had the Holy Spirit from conception (Luke 1:15), but Jesus’ disciples were asking how to pray like John taught his disciples. Jesus said that what God would give them was the Holy Spirit(Luke 11:13) and implying that the Holy Spirit was a good gift, not harmful. Seems like more of an assurance that, even though they may be overwhelmed, God loves them and He knew that this is what they needed most. What they had asked for wasn’t enough. Since the Holy Spirit enters us when we get saved, it suggests that “The Lords Prayer” is, in part, a prayer of salvation and Jesus is telling them how to get saved. It has nothing whatsoever to do with getting a good job, new car, or hot girl. He won’t save you from those flashing red and blue lights when you’re going 40MPH in a school zone. Maybe the Holy Spirit will convict you enough to slow down and obey the law!

So am I saying that God isn’t going to give us stuff when we ask for it? That isn’t quite the point, although I will say that the greatest things that God has done for me is to take stuff away. I sure didn’t see it that way at the time and its taken many years to see Gods plan in hard times. Sometimes a valley is needed to allow us to go higher. God is good all the time. God isn’t Santa Claus. Don’t confuse the two.

Luke 11: 1-13 is telling us that God views the Holy Spirit to be the greatest gift. That’s what we need before anything else is relevant . Folks getting healed from illness, people with the talent to make money, a happy comfortable family, and all the things that we view as the answer to prayer, are only of God if they turn people to walking closer to God and getting saved. What value is supernatural healing if that person doesn’t see his Savior? A healed older man may likely die in a few years from something else anyway. A young cancer survivor gets healed and may get killed in a car accident in two years in the new car she prayed for. See, those things are all for nothing without bringing folks closer to Jesus.

Everyone dies, even Lazrus died and Jesus was the one who directly healed him. Jesus likely healed thousands of people while He walked the earth and every one of them is dead. What was the greater purpose of their supernatural healing? Glory to God and a closer walk with Jesus. Their healing a couple thousand years ago help us walk closer to God today. I’ll bet those folks weren’t praying for that, they just wanted the hurt to go away. Its for Gods purpose, don’t ever lose sight of that. Try to see the greater good in answered prayer. Often its there as a window to share the love of Jesus. A window for them to get saved and have the Holy Spirit enter their lives, perhaps at a time they might otherwise be closed to all that ” Jesus stuff”. When you feel that God has directly answered prayer, look for that window of opportunity. Don’t waste the real gift.

As for those prosperity preachers taking Gods word out of context to sell her latest and greatest book, that crabby looking gal that promises you, that if you follow her formula, you can grab everything you want? She cackles out to buy her book and learn the secret, even though she’s written 30 books (she must have a lot of secrets that God only tells her, hmmmm?). God already did a compilation of 66 books by 40 authors, all the answers are there. Don’t give that opportunist a penny! Save the money and put it in the offering at church. Give it to a needy cause, not a greedy cause.

Think critically friends and pray hard.

 

 

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Attention Seekers

Romans 16:17-18  I implore you, my friends, keep your eye on those who cause divisions and lead others astray, contrary to the teaching you received. Avoid them, for such people are servants not of Christ our Lord but of their own appetites, and they seduce the minds of innocent people with smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naïve

Titus 3: 9-11 But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. As for a person who stirs up division, after warning him once, and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self condemned.

Its an unfortunate that all church attendees aren’t there to learn and to serve. Its also unfortunate that some also choose to make a spectacle of themselves. For them it really isn’t about Jesus, its about being seen and making noise and dividing. This isn’t a new thing, obviously Paul had to deal with it in the church from its infancy. Unless its an issue of doctrinal malfeasance, the group or individuals doing the dividing are doing the work of Satan. Pretty harsh words indeed, but who else’s bidding are they doing? Paul didn’t seem to concern himself with the feelings of the offenders, they were attacking his friends and he laid it out clear.

I’m a pretty kind and empathetic person till a troublemaker comes along. Those are my brothers and sisters being torn apart, and animosity is being created with only one affect; to destroy Gods people. There have been some that I’ve met who take great pleasure in hurting members of a church that they once claimed allegiance to. Don’t let these people walk out of the church, throw them out!

To be perfectly clear, we aren’t talking about debates over music or what flowers are appropriate for the sanctuary. We all have latitude to disagree. However when the powers that are in charge make a decision, we must accept and support that decision. Always support your Pastor. Don’t ever forget, we are there to serve, not stomp around like an impetuous little child if everything doesn’t play out as we’d like. Servanthood in church, servanthood at work, and servanthood at play are what set Christians apart from the rest of the world. The world already has enough self centered, me-worshippers, take a stroll through Walmart if you don’t believe me!

It should be said however, that when someone,  who Paul described as warped, leaves under these circumstances, we still need to pray for these folks. Paul is pretty rough and doesn’t offer any kindness to division artists. They still need Jesus and Jesus still loves them and He wants us to bring them home. From my years of experience, I can say without exception, that folks who pleasure in division are some of the unhappiest people you will ever meet. They also love to bring people into their drama, family, and friends, and the larger the misery, the happier they are. They often move from church to church leaving nothing but destruction behind them, ultimately proclaiming that everyone else is messed up and only they are righteous. Some put on a glossy finish, but they are lonely and hollow inside. They need to feel the love that only Jesus can provide. I’m pretty sure that when you read the Scripture above, someone came to your mind. You may still even be angry with them, but at least show them enough grace to pray for them. They’re just messed up like the rest of the world.

Friends, I sure wish that you had no idea what I’m talking about, but I’ll bet you do. The goal is to protect the body, our brothers and sisters. If its necessary to remove part to save the body, it must be done. After its done, we need to heal, apologize and forgive fellow believers caught up in the mess. We aren’t enemies and God has a purpose for us, both individually and as a unit. Move on and refocus back on servanthood. We serve a great God and he has a plan for us and we can’t stay bogged down in the mud. That just wastes precious time. Lets pray for focus and strength to get through these things. Keep your eyes on the prize, and pray hard friends.

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Death to Church Culture

Yup, that’s what I said and I mean it. Christianity cannot survive or have any useful function until Church Culture dies. Church Culture is something that is the direct result of sin. Man quickly replaces and twists the gifts and instruction of God and turns them into something corrupt and evil. Sex, for example, is a gift that man has turned into something filthy. Humans like the filth, so we just legalize it to ease our conscience and force people to accept our particular degradation.

The Church was such a gift, and as usual, we’ve corrupted it into uselessness and vagueness to distance ourselves from Gods will. Modern Church Culture has no discernable difference between its teaching and moral relativism . Its people behave no differently, they tell the same raunchy jokes, cheat on their spouses, and lust for every person or product they can’t afford, often acquiring them anyway. While walking with an attitude of piousness (because after all, they gave God a whole hour and all the change in their pocket), they have become functionally impotent in the modern world. Most do more harm than good and earn the “Hypocrite” title. Believers have become what the unbelieving world can’t believe. Church Culture is not what God intended.

Lets consider the Amish Culture. Forget about the horse and buggy stuff for a minute, lets look at the culture that they gladly adhere to.  They are dedicated to each other. If someone’s house or barn burns down, or someone becomes hurt or ill, their neighbors will drop everything and build them a new place or takeover the workload on the farm.  It’s second nature to them and they are glad to do it. They save their money and don’t idolize material goods (which is why they have plenty of money). Living simply has provided them with financial security and an ability to keep focus on what’s important to them. No shipping kids off to daycare so the parents can buy more crap than they can afford. No sending them off to a college, that corrupts their little minds, so they may be able to afford more material goods. That’s idolatry and selling your kids into idolatry. It’s financial and moral slavery. Amish kids are with mom and dad till they get married. Most are educated at home and learn real world skills. Most important is that they learn unswerving integrity and non-adjustable morality. The parents take responsibility for the children instead of passing them off to a government institution to indoctrinate them with the latest morality. Being humble and kind are priorities, as are the value of hard work. Amish divorce doesn’t exist and the communities rally around couples with marital discord.  Disease and sickness is rare because they eat what they raise and are physically active.They sure know their Bible. Its probably easier without all that other worldly crap taking up their time like TV or the internet. I’m very fortunate to live with the Amish as neighbors, and I can tell you that they are far kinder and far more intelligent than you can imagine. The Amish will survive.  Amish Culture works!

When you read Paul’s letters to the church’s of that day, its seems like he is warning them against the same things that the Amish are guarding against. Idolatry, church division, immorality, straying from Scripture, becoming like the world of that day. Paul was warning them and us about Church Culture. Church Culture winks at all those sins as long as you show up for an hour and throw some change in the pot. Church Culture doesn’t actually “Do” anything. Again, Church Culture must die!

So am I saying that to be a true Christian you have to sell you car and buy a horse and buggy? Do you have to have the power company unhook the juice? While I may think that would be pretty fun for a while, its not really the answer, nor does it address the problem. Church Culture must die and be replaced by something, I say we need Jesus Culture. Now to be clear, Jesus Culture won’t save you, it’s the result of being saved. Don’t get that out of order. Imagine if your Church community adopted Jesus Culture. We would take care of one another (no government programs needed), not just physically, but spiritually. We wouldn’t allow idolatry into any of our homes. We would raise, truly raise our children and teach them Scripture and morality. They would have far more value than those spoiled little me-monsters that we see in grocery stores (who grow up into big me-monsters). Most importantly, we would know Gods message, our Bibles. The outcome would be the kindness and humility that our Amish brothers and sisters have mastered.

Oh friends, Church Culture must die and we have to get back to Jesus Culture. That’s how the gift was designed. We weren’t made to live the way we are, God had a better plan that we corrupted. We cannot survive without Jesus Culture. To a post Christian America, we don’t really look any different from them. We aren’t showing them that our God is a good god and a kind god that loves them. Only Jesus Culture can do that, by transforming us back to the purity of His gift. The saved need to live together as a tight community, not mega church where people can be lost and non-functional. We also can’t  continue to compete in the world of buying useless products, just to keep up with people that we don’t even like. Its made most of us broke or barely hanging on and we really can’t afford to help anyone or miss a day of work. Idolatry is a consuming fire. We need to stop being marketing sheep!

Well friends there you have it, I hope I was able to give you something to think about. Perhaps you’ll be inspired to make some changes or at least some adjustments. I would sure love to hear some Jesus Culture stories from you. If you decide to sell your car and buy a buggy, well I think that would be kinda cool too!

Pray hard friends!

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Reality Check

We avoid reality. It’s too hard to feel the gravity of it, so we busy ourselves by playing church and buying more stuff than we need . Here’s the only unavoidable thing in our future, one day your heart will stop beating and you will be ushered into something that our minds cannot fathom. Barring instant death, we will all be laying somewhere, whether hospital or other, we will all experience the that moment when we know it’s over and the physical part of our journey is over. That moment of transfer, that moment when the human organism no longer lives, that moment where there are no tomorrows, there is only the eternal now. No do-overs, no more chances, what you were gonna do for God and humanity is gone. What you were going to do is a whisper in the wind.

Christians are dualists, we recognize the distinction between the human animal and our eternal soul. If you don’t understand how that works, I highly recommend “The Soul” by JP Moorland. Its a bit heady, but worth your effort . As the human organism ceases, our soul separates and our eyes are opened to realities that have been around us the whole time. God goes from being a theoretical higher power to something that you have to deal with on His terms. From the richest to the poorest, we all have to communicate with Him direct. No lawyers, no Priests or Pastors, and not even your mother can speak for you now. He doesn’t give a crap about the house or cars you had, your church attendance doesn’t matter, and your lame ass excuses aren’t gonna fly with Him. Can you imagine that breathless moment? Perhaps we should be living for that moment, that single instant when all our poser earthly self gratification becomes shame. What are we doing here anyway, why aren’t we living differently from the unsaved? If we believe we have eternity ahead of us and truly understand how temporal and brief our physical time here is, why are we wasting our lives on pure satisfaction for our bodies when we know they aren’t going to last? We can watch the degrading of our bodies right before our eyes, but we don’t get the hint, we just slop on more makeup or join the YMCA to deny what’s happening. Christians don’t focus on those tangibles that Jesus talked about, we focus on what we have, many looking down on others for having less, maybe for not meeting the latest acceptable standard of beauty or eloquence or even their level of earthly education. What benefit are any of those temporal things if we deny our brothers and sisters? To look down on a saved brother or sister may be the height of hypocrisy. You bring nothing to Jesus, certainly no more than the humblest and poorest of His people. Seems like the poorest and weakest delight Jesus more than anyone.

That eternal moment is coming friends. It is very real and inevitable. You will stand before God and give account for your time as the human animal. The descriptions of Heaven and the afterlife are so mind blowing that I can’t even fathom them. I don’t have an imagination wild enough to even get a hint of what’s coming, I just can’t conceive of it.

Conversely friends, if you aren’t saved by Jesus, the horrors of hell are just as hard to conceive. I respect my non-believing friends, but I can’t understand why they would choose that eternity. No where does it say that Hell is a place that you get to hang out with bad cool people and just party and things just have a red tint. That’s man made, more fake stuff to deny reality. The repercussions for clinging to self will are brutal. Self will is an illusion anyway, how much self control is in Hell? You have no choice there. If someone in your past has turned you off to Jesus, I’m sorry. Christians claim to be sinners and rarely will keep you wondering. It isn’t fair to blame God for His students. We’re all in process and some only make the claim to be saved, just posers. Don’t let them control you by taking away your chance for eternity. Think for yourself.

Refocus your eyes on Jesus, brothers and sisters, that moment of separation is coming. No going back to save a friend or family member, its over. No timeouts, and you can’t add more quarters for more time. Like Jesus said as He was experiencing His last moments as His earthly vessel died, “It is finished.” Friends that finished moment is coming for us all too. We will be freed from the shackles of our earthly body and reality, eternal reality begins. I hope you take the time to ponder these things, truly ponder, not just make a silly comment, in your quiet time,  search out understanding. Ask questions of the only guy that knows the answers. Jesus is always awake and waiting for you. Seek Him out and pray hard friends. I’m praying for all of you!

 

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But does He like me?

Here’s a dilemma that I’ve been struggling with and I may have found an answer. The New Testament tells us repeatedly that God loves us. I don’t question that one bit. Still, the Bible also makes it clear that we’re all a bunch of scoundrels, always screwing up and never good enough and thats why Jesus had to die a brutal death to pay for our natural and decided awfulness. There isn’t anything inherently good about us. Nothing but sinners!  God is like that parent of wayward kids that are a total heartbreak. Parents still love those rotten kids, but they sure don’t like them. They still have hope for them, but still hope they don’t stop by.  The total depravity of man is rough on God, but it isn’t easy being the depraved ones either.

I want Jesus to love me, but I think that I want Jesus to like me even more. Love can be burdensome, but like means that I want to hang out with you and do stuff or even just do nothing. I know that my wife loves me, but if she didn’t like me(and yes there are those moments!), it would be a pretty dismal life. Your friends probably don’t love you, but they’re fun to go places with and do things. I’m so grateful that Jesus loves me, I know that I’m a royal pain in the ass, and that He saved my bacon, but I want Him to want to watch a movie with me, or go for a bike ride or work on a project with me. Just to hang out with me. Fellowship is the church word.

But wait a minute, it seems like I’m only looking at this from my point of view, right? This is my opinion from where I’m standing. Does the Bible say we are to love God? You bet it does!  Don’t overlook how often Jesus told us to pray. Jesus prayed, not because He was a royal pain in the ass like us, but because that’s how He was able to hang out with God the Father. Jesus didn’t really need anything from Him, there was no love question, Jesus just wanted to communicate with someone He liked to be with. So if Jesus’ communicating with God the Father is evidence that prayer is a like relationship, perhaps His wanting us to pray with Him is evidence of God and Jesus’ want to have a like relationship with us? God doesn’t physically ‘Walk with us in the cool of the morning”, but maybe this is the best we can do while we’re down here. Maybe that’s why Jesus went through all of this mess to get us to be with Him. It isn’t that He has a need that we can really fulfill, there isn’t anything that we can do for Him. He just wants us  there because He wants us, He likes us. He wants us to pray constantly because He likes talking with us, not because He needs our advice. He said He was building a place for us on His land. Now , I like you folks, but not that much, you aren’t building anything on my land and I’m darn sure not gonna do it for you!

Consider His greatest Command, the great commission, “Come on up and bring lots of my friends with you and treat them kindly.”  I think He might just like those other scoundrels and I think He likes you too. Its a mess down here, but there’s no pain up there and we don’t need money, its an all inclusive trip and we never have to leave. Lets plan on filling a bus up to Jesus’ place, I’ll bet the food is good too! Pack lightly friends, the bus is leaving sooner than you think!

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Yes its Bad, But all Bad?

There’s no doubt about it, the United States and the rest of the world is becoming an increasingly hostile place to be a Christian. In America, we have a Muslim president (despite his claims) that has aggressively used his position to not only undermine Christian values, but to use Government departments to attack, fine and imprison Believers. Yet he is able to channel billions of our dollars to our enemies, those that slaughter Americans and target Christians throughout the world, without even a mention from our complicit “Free(?)” press. Hundreds of Believers are slaughtered daily throughout the world, to the point that its so common, that it doesn’t even make the news anymore. If it isn’t at least 50 dead, it isn’t newsworthy. Its little wonder that the population of professing Christians is plummeting.

So how can there be any good in that? I don’t think that God is impressed when Believers make up a higher percent of a population or are living an easy life. My observation is this, while our numbers are less, the people who are Christians today are solid. Not that light fluffy stuff or the go to church on Christmas and Easter crowd, but folks who are truly seeking God, not Christian social life. I’ve noticed a change in who Believers are, they are common folks, not flashy or boisterous, but quietly working under the radar, to help people that really need it. They have become people who pray and study. They are imperfect people who put Jesus first. I don’t know how solid Believers have been in our recent past. Many more went to church but I think they had dusty Bibles at home. A Believer doesn’t really have that option anymore. To survive being under attack, you really need to have made a commitment.

Jesus never promised us worldly peace and prosperity, quite the opposite. He promised us alienation, persecution and death. Well, that’s becoming a reality again. I wince a bit to say it, but maybe that’s where God can refine us, maybe it takes heat to refine us and separate us from the population. The Israelites usually got hauled off in bondage when they began to resemble the heathen population, why would we think anything different would happen to us? See, it doesn’t matter what a Judas in a political office does. He can steal from us and support or enemies, but God is using him and his kind to refine us just like the Babylonian kings. Islam is the latest Babylonian ruse to refine us, but they don’t control us. Our strength isn’t in worldly power, force or numbers, its only in Jesus. We recognize that we are weak and need Him, and our weakness makes us strong.

So friends, brothers and sisters, when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, persecution, and our own country and countrymen rejecting us, know that God is watching and it isn’t out of control. God rises up who He will for His purpose, not for our convenience or comfort. Friends, pray for your fellow Believers that they will have strength through the coming trials. Support one another and study Gods word. He hasn’t been wrong yet. We have hope in Jesus, the world needs that too. Be solid, friends

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Why arent we fighting?

Lets suppose that a very bad person was trying to break into your home and hurt your family. This bad person could enter through the front door, back door, patio door, windows and so on. This bad person could also use many tools, such as a pry bar, hammer and once inside this person had many weapons to finish the job and destroy your family. None of your family will escape, perhaps destroyed differently, but they don’t really have a chance for survival. We all worry about that, don’t we? We lock our doors and window latches, perhaps hire someone to help secure our home, and maybe have weapons in our home to defend our family. So the big question is, how far will you go to defend your family?

Before you answer too quickly, let me share this with you.

Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Laziness, Wrath, Envy, and Pride. These are generally considered the Seven Deadly Sins. Not that they are the only sins, but these seem to be at the heart of all sin. Most sin starts here. The ugly truth is that each of us has a special weakness for one of these. Sure, all of us have a bit of all of them in us, but there’s one, a pet one that we justify, one that we savor and won’t let go of, one that controls us and we seem helpless to stop even if we wanted to. You could justify any of them, modern society has gone out of its way to justify all of these, hasn’t it? Haven’t you heard the ads? “We are sexual beings”, “You deserve more”, “Get what you want now”, Work smart not hard”, “Payback is a bitch”, “Get ahead of the Joneses”, and “I’m better than those people”. What a load of crap! We are all playing a dangerous dance with these sins and we think it doesn’t hurt anyone, but it destroys people. Lustful dads, gluttonous dads, greedy dads, lazy dads, vengeful dads, envious dads, and prideful dads, all hurt their families and pass on dysfunction that enslaves generations. No one is ever thankful for that kind of man or woman in their lives. It destroys families. It destroys your family.

So a moment ago, you were ready to fight to the death to defend your family. Are you now? Are you ready to make war to defend them? Or are you going to just make excuses for your weakness, justify the murderer that is skulking around your family. We were all born weak, but we’re talking about defending those you claim to love! Make WAR! Intentionally, deliberately, fight your sin, fight your weakness with passion. Fight it because it is coming after your family! Satan and the modern world are using your weak spot to get to them and don’t you dare let that happen! Put a filter on your computer, give away what makes you prideful, find joy in hard work, stop consuming and start giving, learn to have a forgiving spirit, be grateful for what you have, show gentle kindness, and pray for strength. Practice these things, teach these things to your family and friends so they will be safe too. They are all counting on you, if you don’t keep them safe, who will? Make WAR!!

It isn’t easy you know. Society wont support you. The more you fight, the more filth they will shove in your face. But will you fight?  The big question still remains, how far will you go to defend your family?

Have a worthy passion friends and fight on.

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Are You an Artist?

” He who works with his hands is a laborer,

He who works with his hands and mind is a craftsmen,

He who works with his hands, mind and heart is an artist.”

St Francis of Assisi

In our education focused society, we teach people how to do a lot of things. Whether its a lawyer , doctor, brick layer or truck driver, for a large fee,  you can be taught almost anything. Today, getting a higher education is basically paying a higher fee to purchase the right to have a certain occupation. For $200,000 you can buy a doctor or lawyer job, while $10,000 might only buy you a truck driver or brick layer job and there’s plenty in between, all for a fee. Quite a racket.  Most college professors are protesting against capitalism, but are still cashing in those big checks. Why not, they bought the job that allows them to do it.

St Francis is referring to something that only leaders can teach. They can be teachers, employers, friends or family, but they sure are rare. They are the people you never forget. They have the ability to convey the message of “Why” over “How.” They can show/teach others the passion for a task. If your heart is in your work, conditions don’t matter, money doesn’t matter, there is nothing that can bring you down. Only a true leader can teach passion and it takes passion to be a leader. There is no exception to that statement.

So, what if you aren’t a leader? My friend, you are a leader. Someone is always watching you and you have the ability to set the pace for yourself. Work with an attitude of purpose, regardless of your occupation, and set yourself apart. Don’t give anyone else the power to control your attitude, its yours, you own it, you’re responsible. I can tell you this, if you can control your attitude in a job that you don’t care for, you own the world! If you put your heart in your work, you will not only be happier in every aspect of your life, but you’ll certainly climb the pay scale as well. Hopefully you’ll be bringing plenty of others up with you.

If you are someone who is already in a leadership position and don’t feel you’re getting the results you’d like, reconsider how you’re sharing your passion. Are your people getting training, just pieces of paper to hang on a wall, or are you conveying the message of why we do, what we do? It takes a servant mindset to convey that message. You’ll likely turn to an artisan to find out how to do this. Just because you were able to purchase a nicer occupation than someone else doesn’t make you better, only more fortunate and that should produce humble gratitude, not arrogance.

See friends, it doesn’t really matter whether you’re a leader or not, what matters is your heart condition. Are you an artist or laborer? Are you inspiring other to be artists?  Teaching is easy, but to inspire someone is legendary. You have the power to not only change the lives of those around you, but those who they come in contact with. Now that’s a positive snowball. As for the protesting professors? I guess the world needs small minded laborers too.

Inspire hard friends

 

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Grandma’s Prayer Closet

Some of you may have seen the movie “War Room”. While I’ve only seen clips, it looks terrific! The driving force is Miss Clara, an elderly woman who makes a huge impact through the use of her prayer closet. Its a story about intense, intentional prayer and its ability to sway a situation. I’ve noticed that many women (and this should apply to men as well), have been creating a prayer specific space. I think that’s a mighty fine thing as long as it gets used.

Could there be another way to have intense, very personal prayer life? Not that theoretical or impersonal stuff we occasionally get at church or the rapid machine gun prayer before supper, but those times when you really know that He’s really listening and you’re bonding with your creator.

My grandmother wasn’t a complex woman, but she walked with God. Not like Adam and Eve, but perhaps more meaningful. She had quite a difficult life by some peoples standard. She was born into poverty during the depression. Her father was electrocuted trying to rescue a man whose machine had come in contact with a power line, part of Roosevelts big “Rural Electrification” push of the 1920’s. Her mother became a young Norwegian widow with 6 children, plus 1 adopted child. They survived by taking in small sewing jobs and whatever work they could find. During the depression folks shared what little they had. Grandma used to say that Sunday was the best day because she was allowed to sprinkle a little sugar on a piece of bread as a special treat. What they didn’t have, they made up for in prayer. Sure they prayed for the immediate needs, but mostly they thanked God. They were grateful to the core for what they had. They prayed in the morning, before meals, while they worked, and before they slept. Yes, some were the pre-Written “Our Father” and Hail Mary” and from a small pocket sized prayer book, but most were just talking with God throughout the day.

My Grandmother married well, to a hard working French-Canadian farmer, but also found herself widowed at a young age. Fortunately, the last child had gotten married before his heart attack, but now with the children gone, she was alone. Grandma was very well liked, so she had plenty of visitors, and the children would stop by and help, but she was alone none the less. My earliest memories of her were when she was in her 50’s. I spent my summers with her and even as I got older and much stronger and larger, that little gray haired woman could out work me and flat wear me out. When my grandfather died , most of the farm, cows and equipment were sold, but she kept enough land for a dozen sows and she began to raise feeder pigs.Her quarter acre garden, berry bushes, and apple trees helped a lot of folks through some hard times. She raised far more than she could use, but just what God needed.

Like her mother she was always praying. Usually she would whisper her prayers, not for anyone else to hear, only loud enough for God. Sometimes I would ask what she was praying about. It was always simple things, thanking Him for giving her strength to perform a certain task, sometimes for strength to get by, sometimes it was communicating loneliness with the only one who would understand, and sometimes she would just say that she loves her Lord so much. Her Lord…isn’t that something. She let go of herself and her pain and made Jesus “Her Lord.” My, isn’t that personal. My grandmother walked with God. It wets my eyes to think of a relationship like that.

My Grandmother died of Alzheimers many years ago. Its a cruel death in some ways, she had really wasted away. The last time I seen her was a week before she died and she was still whispering prayers. She knew no one or anything at all, but she was still talking to her Savior. When Grandma got to meet Jesus it probably wasn’t that big of a deal, they were already old friends. Maybe Jesus needed help with his canning.

Oh friends, I really miss my Grandma. I wish I had learned earlier to walk with Jesus like she did. Its not too late friends. He’s still listening for you. Yes, even if He’s busy canning green beans.

 

 

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Intentional World View

Most of us put a few precious coins in the offering plate at church when we were little kids. OK, I’ll admit it, my grandma gave me the dime, it wasn’t even mine. Still, I left church thinking that I did something good and God was happy with me. Part of the problem is that some of us grow up, still thinking that we did God a favor by throwing a few coins in the plate. Some of the more dedicated church goers may increase the amount given and are quite certain that they’re in good standing with God. Jesus is pretty lucky to have us!

In Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus is talking about how He  will divide us up when He returns.

Verse 35: “For when I was hungry you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, 36:naked and you clothed me, in prison and you visited me. 37: Then the righteous will answer Him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38: When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39: When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you? 40: And the King will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’

That seems a bit different than throwing a few bucks in the offering at church. In fact, to do any of the things Jesus mentioned, you have to seek out people that are in a bad way. It isn’t like someone shows up at your door needing a coat or cheeseburger. We are told to intentionally go find these people. Do we have it on our minds to watch for folks that might have a need that we can fill? None of the things Jesus mentioned are that difficult, perhaps the prison one may not be for everyone, but is it something we are sensitive to? I’ll admit that I’m not real good in this area. Not that I’m greedy or selfish, but to do what Jesus commands, I have to pay attention to other people a bit more. A lot more. That is an intentional world view. Not waiting for things to happen, but to get out there and find solutions and make things happen.

Why go through all the work of changing our world view? Matthew 25:34, Then the king will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’ Matthew 25:41, Then He will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.’  Well, there’s nothing vague about that, is there?

So begin today, watching for folks that might need a hand. It doesn’t need to start out with something big and dramatic. Start with a lot of small things and increase your sensitivity to where you can fill a need. Change your world view to that of a servant and not a master. The world will tell you that its all about you and your happiness. Don’t be so gullible. Lets roll up our sleeves and be what God meant us to be. Maybe throw in a few extra bucks at the offering too. Serve hard, friends.

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