Hebrews 4:16 – Therefore let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help.
Confidence. Sometimes confidence in prayer is easy and other times it is not. As I began writing this, I was reminded of the passage in Luke where James and John ask Jesus if they should call down fire from heaven (Luke 9:54). Talk about confidence. I have actually thought about specific prayers over the past month where I prayed with confidence. The difference between those and other prayers said without confidence are striking in my mind. This difference should not surprise me as much as it does. As far as I can tell there was nothing I could have done to create this confidence. But I will say that confidence appears to build on itself. I go to the throne of grace expecting an answer with confidence more often than I used to.
Speaking of prayer. I have also been thinking about when I perform prayer with others. Praying out loud with or for others is so much different than just talking to God – even with my own children. I asked God to help me with this. Thursday night’s prayer with the kids felt more like talking than performing. Sounds sad I know but I am weak and need help from my Savior in all things. The steps always seem small but I think most of them are headed forward.
This week I have had several discussions about church. One thing I heard a few times was about the facade we put up. How we get dressed up nice and pretend our lives are in order when we are really just broken. There are many reasons we do this. We think people don’t want to hear all the negative things going on. We think people will gossip about us. We sometimes even think our lives should not be this way – we have Jesus so only good things happen to Jesus people (someone tells me this all the time – crazy I know). I imagine there are other reasons.
Matthew 23:25 – Woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.
How do we change an environment where everything is hidden to an environment of transparency? Who among us is brave enough to stand up and really share their brokenness with others? Not some past brokenness where “you” have fixed yourself mind you, but your current brokenness where Christ is fixing you now. Am I ashamed of my sin? Am I ashamed that I need to be redeemed by the blood of Jesus?
Question – Why is going to church so difficult?
Worship seems easy six days a week. Monday it is easy to follow Jesus. It is easy to talk about Him, talk to Him, worship Him, read His Word. It is easy to love Him with my whole heart, mind, soul, and being. Six days I just enjoy my LORD and Savior in so many ways. Then on Sunday, the last day of the week, I just try not to be dead inside as I dread going to that building called church. I can remember times in high school wondering what all these people were really doing Sunday morning. During college I just stayed away. I got married and we pretended to be spiritual at a Lutheran church. Years later we pretended again at a Baptist church. Pretending is a lot of work. I’m sure this is all related to the other answers I have been looking for. What is worship? What is church? Who has authority? The whole system seems setup to destroy the very thing it is supposed to magnify.
I know that I am the actual problem. That building called church is not the problem yet I do not know how to overcome this. I ask God to give me a heart that will worship in spirit and truth at the building on Sunday morning and it rarely comes. I have been in 1 Peter for a few days. There are many good words in chapter one so if you want to read it and share what good words God gives you that would be kind of cool.
I watched a short video this weekend (maybe 3 1/2 minutes) – Why Don’t You Like the Christians You Know? I did not expect what I heard. I thought it was powerful enough to share.
Luke 9:32 – Now Peter and those with him were quite sleepy, but as they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him.
As I read that yesterday morning, I wondered how in the world you could be in the presence of the Savior and be quite sleepy (the ESV says heavy with sleep). Of course we get sleepy entering into the presence of God on Sunday morning so we do not have a lot of room to talk. I’m sure the disciples were constantly working, listening, learning at the feet of Jesus. That thought alone is enough to make me quite sleepy. But as we become fully awake, what are we going to do to bring glory to God?
The kids have been reading Matthew. I have them looking for specific things in the book – references to the prophets and Jesus being called the Son of David and the Son of Man. Matthew was writing to the Jews and so these were important points for him to get across to show Jesus was the Messiah. The kids also highlight sections they like in each chapter and tell me why they like them. It has been a good experience thus far.
Matthew 10:39 – Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life because of me will find it.
This weekend Matthew 10:39 was part of our discussion so we got to talk about ISIS and the persecuted church. I realize we do not have to lose our physical life to find eternal life (although sometimes it seems like an easier solution). We lose our life in service to our Savior. This is a much more difficult concept to live out but we push forward as best we can and pray desperately for help to do it.
I am not sure why but we moved on to the Planned Parenthood videos. We talked about murdering babies and selling baby parts. We talked about how God doesn’t necessarily design us (or maybe call us) with the same gifts or desires to work in specific areas like abortion. However we are required to support those Christians who are called to those areas in any way we can. Always a good time talking to the kids. I told them it must have been happy hour talking about all those things. 🙂
I have tried to remember anyone attempting to teach me about Jesus. There are hundred, maybe thousands, of ACTS stickers on cars. I am sure there are hundreds of Protestants going on the Walk to Emmaus. Thousands more going to church, both Catholic and Protestant alike.
I remember in college there was a girl who invited me to church. I enjoyed her company so I went. About half way through the service I felt dirty. I could not shake the feeling. I left and felt better. She invited me back and I thought I must have just had a bad day or something so I went back. This time I walked in and felt that dirty feeling immediately. Later I realized that she was Mormon. That was one person who wanted to save my soul.
More recently I have had several studies with Church of Christ people. They really do enjoy teaching you about the book of Acts without any special stickers on their car or walks anywhere. These studies have been instigated by a single man. Now I can count two who wanted to save my soul.
I am sure I must not have put as much thought into this as I should. I have had others invite me to churches but I do not recall it having the feel of someone interested in saving my soul.
Our default seems to be “they are saved” until they prove otherwise instead of “they may not be saved let’s have a talk”. Shouldn’t a Christian’s default be the second.
Galatians 6:11 – See what big letters I make as I write to you with my own hand!
What big letters I make. It seems that as a whole the “Christian” has a default stance of “they are already saved by the grace of God”. Well unless you are Hitler then we might try to convert you – well except it would be bad for our image so that’s OK, no never mind on saving him. Why is this our default stance? Isn’t it much more likely that the way is narrow and that good person next to you is lost? I am guilty of this.
Slight shift. Can a Christian’s life really be balanced? Slaves to righteousness (Romans 6:18). Enslaved to God (Romans 6:22).
Discern – distinguish (someone or something) with difficulty by sight or with the other senses.
I read this definition on Saturday. I was reminded again that we needed to be the eyes and ears of Jesus. Then I saw the two words “with difficulty” and decided that was not for me. Can we change the definition? Part of point 2015 in the Catholic Catechism says “There is no holiness without renunciation and spiritual battle.” This spiritual battle also sounds very difficult. Yet, we cannot leave our brothers and sisters on the battlefield alone. Eyes and Ears. Spiritual Battle.
In Ephesians 6, the Apostle Paul talks about this spiritual battle. After mentioning the only offensive weapon, the Word of God, he goes right into prayer. Ephesians 6:18 – With every prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit, and to this end be alert, with all perseverance and requests for all the saints.
Will God ever give you more than you can handle? I read an article Sunday titled God Will Give You More Than You Can Handle. If God gives you more than you can handle, then you are forced to rely on Him. And this may be the very reason He does give us more than we can handle. As you may know, I fight depression. Many months back I had to stop praying for God to take away the pain and pray that he would be with me through the pain. Saturday as a wave hit me my first thought was “God is with me through the pain”. It is not often the first thought but the sooner the thought comes the better. I cannot get through this on my own. He is the only one I can rely on.
I have been thinking a lot about the question from last week – how can we be the hands and feet of Jesus if we are not the eyes and ears too. That particular story was about a woman in church who was trapped in slavery and no one knew. She put on her mask and hid her real pain. So many people wearing masks – the slave, the abused, the addict, the depressed. It is difficult to take off the mask so we can be loved unconditionally. The shame we feel in our slavery, abuse, addiction, depression prevents us from receiving the love we need. And it is difficult to pierce this mask in others so we can love them unconditionally.
I do not need you to fix me. The sex slave, abused, and addict do not need you to fix them either.
I read an article last week – 5 Ways to Help the “Least of These” in the Church. The line that really got me was – “How can the local church be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ if we aren’t being his eyes and ears, too? How can we love someone if we don’t even know they exist?”
As a whole, do you see the church as significantly different than the world? I know there are differences but anything significant? Something that makes the world look at us and say “they are different”.
Every now and again I try desperately to find a video I saw many years ago. It was based upon the Staples “Easy” button but it was the “Pastor” button. It was the magical button you pressed when someone started talking about Jesus. Then your pastor would appear and relieve you of the responsibility of talking about Jesus. It also worked in times when someone needed help or there was service work to be done. I have not been able to find the video and sadly enough I have not been able to find this button to purchase. If you have one I’ll pay you double for it.
Yes, being a sinful man necessarily takes me in a direction where I avoid my responsibilities and the work God gave me. In rebellion but today I can start anew. Today, you can too.