Friday, October 8, 2010


"The essence of forgiveness is absorbing pain instead of giving it." - Tim Keller

"Mercy and forgiveness must be free and unmerited to the wrongdoer. If the wrongdoer has to do something to merit it, then it isn’t mercy, but forgiveness always comes at a cost to the one granting the forgiveness." - Tim Keller

"It's impossible to love someone who has sinned against you grievously unless you're aware that you're capable of the same sin." - Pastor Tullian

"Whatever offense you've received is infinitely smaller than the offense God has received from you. The Gospel frees you to forgive quickly." - Pastor Tullian

"Don't buy the lie of bitterness. It's like drinking poison hoping it will kill the other person, but you're the one who dies." - Jefferson Bethke

“Many of us are being held hostage by bitterness because we are not willing to give to others what we have been given.” -Tony Evans

"When I am bitter and unforgiving what I am really saying in my heart is, 'I am better then you as I would never do what you just did.'" - Tim Keller

"If they are wrong they need your prayers all the more and if they are your enemies, you are under orders to pray for them." - C.S. Lewis

"When someone does you wrong....trying to hold a grudge and wish pain on them is like holding your breath and hoping they suffocate."

From "Captivating" by John Eldredge:

We must forgive those who hurt us. The reason is simple: Bitterness and unforgiveness are claws that set their hooks deep in our hearts; they are chains that keep us held captive to the wounds and the messages of those wounds. Until you forgive, you remain their prisoner. Paul warns us that unforgiveness and bitterness can wreck our lives and the lives of others (Eph. 4:31; Heb. 12:15). We have to let them go.

Forgive as Christ has forgiven you. (Col 3:13)

Now - listen carefully. Forgiveness is a choice. It is not a feeling - don't try and feel forgiving. It is an act of the will. "Don't wait to forgive until you feel like forgiving," wrote Neil Anderson. "You will never get there. Feelings take time to heal after the choice to forgive is made . . ." We allow God to bring the hurt up from our past, for "if your forgiveness doesn't visit the emotional core of your life, it will be incomplete." We acknowledge that it hurt, that it mattered, and we choose to extend forgiveness to our father, our mother, those who hurt us. This is not saying, "It didn't really matter"; it is not saying, "I probably deserved part of it anyway." Forgiveness says, "It was wrong. Very wrong. It mattered, hurt me deeply. And I release you. I give you to God."

It might help to remember that those who hurt you were also deeply wounded themselves. They were broken hearts, broken when they were young, and they fell captive to the Enemy. They were in fact pawns in his hands. This doesn't absolve them of the choices they made, the things they did. It just helps us to let them go - to realize that they were shattered souls themselves.

Opening Up My Eyes

You fought but you were just too weak
So you lost all the things you tried to keep
Now you're on your knees
You're on your knees

But wait everything can change
In a moments' time
You don't have to be afraid
'Cause fear is just a lie
Open up your eyes

And He'll break open the skies to save
Those who cry out His name
The one the wind and waves obey
Is strong enough to save you

I have heard this Tenth Avenue North song a number of times and have always liked it but tonight it hit deeper, right at my core. It's spot on. I have come to realize that the biggest idol in my life is me. Not just me...but what I can do. Ever since I was in 2nd grade I have known that I had special gifts. My above average intelligence led to straight A's, teacher approval, numerous academic awards, the pride of my parents, scholarships, special opportunities, and on and on I could go.

We talked a little bit about "cause and effect" last night in care group and I have touched upon it here before. How can you not become a slave to it when it is all you knew during your formative years? My success and my achievements were a function of my abilities and my hard work. I validated myself. I took a lot of abuse growing up because I was the smart kid. But I still the end of the day and deep one could take from me the gifts that I had.

So, although I wasn't one to go around and brag about my achievements (quite the opposite, in fact), I still found my worth in them. It was a big reason why I kinda went the opposite direction in college. I got tired of being known as the "smart kid". I wanted people to define me another way but, in the end, I still defined myself that way because it was always something I could fall back on. It was safe and comfortable and proven.

So, now I am 37 and anyone taking an objective look at my professional path would say that I am far from successful. My achievements in the workplace have been minimal. My personal attempts at trading have been met with mixed success. No promotions, no monetary increases, no largely successful firm. Whatever it was that used to bring me worth and affirmation is no longer there.

"All of the suffering of God's children happens ultimately because God loves us and has as his goal for us our spiritual enlargement." - Pastor Tullian

So God thwarts that which we have made an idol. God intervenes. And thank Him that He does. God takes away those things that have replaced Him...those things that we use to define who we are rather than defining who we are by what He has done for us. That is what He has done to me. It hasn't been fun or easy or comfortable. It's still not. But it is good...and right...and praiseworthy.

Everything can change. The One the wind and waves strong enough to save me.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Don't Waste Your Life

"If he's truly raised to life then this news should change your life."

I know a lot of people out there scared they gone die
Couple of em thinking they'll be livin in the sky
But while I'm here livin man I gotta ask why, what am I here for I gotta figure out
Waste my life
No I gotta make it count
If Christ is real then what am I goin do about
All of the things in Luke 12:15 down to 21
You really oughta go and check it out
Paul said if Christ ain't resurrect then we wasted our lives
Well that implies that our life's built around Jesus being alive
Everyday I'm living tryin show the world why
Christ is more than everything you'll ever try
Better than pretty women and sinning and living to get a minute of any women and men that you admire
Ain't no lie

We created for Him
Outta the dust he made us for Him
Elects us and he saves us for Him
Jesus comes and He raises for Him
Magnify the Father why bother with something lesser
He made us so we could bless Him and to the world we confess him
Resurrects him
So I know I got life
Matter fact better man I know I got Christ
If you don't see His ways in my days and nights
You can hit my brakes you can stop my lights
Man I lost my rights
I lost my life
Forget the money cars and toss that ice
The cost is Christ
And they could never offer me anything on the planet that'll cost that price.

Yeah do it for Christ if you trying to figure what to do with your life
If you making money hope you doing it right because the money is Gods you better steward it right
Stay focused if you ain't got no ride
Your life ain't wrapped up in what you drive
The clothes you wear the job you work
The color your skin naw we Christian first
People living life for a job
Make a lil money start living for a car
Get em a house a wife kids and a dog
When they retire they living high on the hog
But guess what they didn't ever really live at all
To live is Christ yeah that's Paul I recall
To die is gain so for Christ we give it all
He's the treasure you'll never find in the mall
Your money your singleness marriage talent and time
They were loaned to you to show the world that Christ is Divine
That's why it's Christ in my rhymes
That's why it's Christ all the time
My whole world is built around him He's the life in my lines
I refused to waste my life
He's too true ta chase
That ice
Heres my gifts and time cause I'm constantly trying to be used to praise the Christ
If he's truly raised to life
Then this news should change your life
And by his grace you can put your faith in place that rules your days and nights.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Why Don't We Pray?

"To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing." - Martin Luther

"I have often learned more in one prayer than I have been able to glean from much reading and reflection." - Martin Luther

"Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?" - Corrie ten Boom

"If all your prayers were answered the last 30 days, would anything change in THE world or just YOUR world?"- John Bryson

Pastor Z used to say (and I'm sure he still does) that when we get to heaven, one of the first things we'll say will be, "Why didn't I pray more?" When we see God in all His glory it will cause us to regret not constantly taking advantage of this incredible gift to converse with the Creator of the universe. Some of the following is from a Matt Chandler sermon and some is from things God has been talking to me about.

Most of us treat prayer like a chore. That seems heretical at the surface but guess what? The New Testament repeatedly acknowledges that prayer is difficult. We can't let that be an excuse not to pray but let's be honest and admit this isn't easy rather than beating ourselves up over our lack of follow through. Paul says, "Labor with me in prayer." That should say something to us if Paul views prayer as work. Our flesh and Satan certainly don't want us praying. Yet, it is integral to our Christian walk and the Bible exhorts us to be devoted to prayer - Acts 1:14, Acts 2:42, Acts 6:4, Ephesians 6:18 and Romans 12:12, which is my favorite. "Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer."

So, why don't we pray more? Sure, we know it's difficult but so is work and we do that 40-60 hours or more a week. Anyone praying that much? neither. Anyone praying 10% of their working hours? Not me. What if you truly understood how much God wants to hear from you? Proverbs 15:8 says, "The prayer of the upright is His delight." Delighting God. That sounds like a good thing. Look at Isaiah 65:24 and Revelation 5:8 as well. Isaiah 62:6-7 takes it a step further. God doesn't just want to hear from us a couple times a day. He wants us to pester Him. He wants us to be the 4-year old saying his name over and over. When all mom wants is a moment of peace, God wants more of us.

We don't pray because of 2 primary issues. The first is pride. Prayer is designed to show the complete sufficiency of God and the complete helplessness of man. We humans aren't big on being helpless. This is why many prayers are spoken only after we no longer believe we can do anything to affect the outcome. So, we finally put it into God's hands when we feel there is no other choice. I am still on my old church's prayer chain and probably 90% of the prayer requests revolve around health issues. Now, there is nothing wrong with praying for healing and God's blessings on our physical health. I think we have to be careful about ONLY asking for healing and not for courage or strength or wisdom as to why God is allowing this season of suffering. But healing prayer is good prayer. However, I would love to see other prayer requests that aren't a last resort. Prayers like "help me show more grace to my wife" or "wisdom on how to love my neighbor better" or "humility at work after being given a promotion". Those would be great to see.

The other issue is we don't understand the story we are in. I loved that Chandler put it this way. Too many of us live in the story we have constructed for ourselves. The story inevitably has us in the center with us attempting to arrange for the life that revolves around us - work, family, recreation, church, friendships, etc. This is what keeps us so busy, where we feel like there is no time for anything else. All our energy is spent on making our story work as well as it possibly can. But we have been fooled into thinking this is the PRIMARY story. It's not.

Eldredge writes..."I am staggered by the level of naivete that most people live with regarding evil. They don't take it seriously. They don't live as though the Story has a Villain. Not the devil prancing about in red tights, carrying a pitchfork, but the incarnation of the very worst of every enemy you've met in every other story. Dear God - the Holocaust, child prostitution, terrorist bombings, genocidal governments. What is it going to take for us to take evil seriously? Life is very confusing if you do not take into account that there is a Villain. That you, my friend, have an Enemy. One of the things that surprised me when I first read the New Testament seriously was that it talked so much about a Dark Power in the universe - a mighty evil spirit who was held to be the Power behind death, disease, and sin . . . Christianity thinks this Dark Power was created by God, and was good when he was created, and went wrong. Christianity agrees . . . this is a universe at war."

That's the REAL story. If you truly understood that your greatest enemy was after your family, your friends, and yes, would pray a whole lot more. You have been fooled into thinking that Satan is weak and ineffective and not worth contemplating. He has already succeeded in convincing you that there is no battle so you can go blissfully along unaware of what is truly transpiring around you and in you. It's time for all of us to wake up.

11Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. 12The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. - Romans 13:11-12 (ESV)

“I would rather teach one man to pray than ten men to preach.” - Charles Spurgeon