Monday, January 24, 2011

What Do You Need?

I was listening to Matt Chandler yesterday as he continues his sermon series on Habakkuk. At the end of the sermon he had a time of prayer. He asked his congregation, "What do you need from God right now?"

I had to stop and think about that for a minute. I had just listened to a John Piper sermon earlier in the day which was on the Lord's prayer and the last 3 petitions - daily bread, forgiveness and deliverance from evil are all things Jesus knew we would need every day. That last petition could also be interpreted as asking for strength to keep pursuing what is right and pure and holy.

So I finally came up with "joy in the pursuit of holiness." I have talked often on this blog about realizing how important it is for me to pursue holiness in the context of God's strength, glory and promises, rather than my own self-discipline and white-knuckle approach. But even with a Christ-centered strategy (and I have a tendency to fall back into failed methods) I often find that it becomes, dare I say, joyless at times. It's great to see God's sanctifying work in my life but the battle can be so difficult and relentless.

The truth is that if I am struggling to find joy in my pursuit of God the temptations in my life will be that much more alluring. I know I can find joy elsewhere even though that joy is temporary, futile and ultimately meaningless. But in a season of dryness and fatigue, the mirage seems more worthy of my pursuit even when I know there is nothing truly worthwhile there.

Francis Chan writes in Crazy Love, "If you are running toward God then you won't be running toward sin." I have taken that very literally. I know I run to sin when God isn't my main focus and priority. I am trying to run toward God more and more. But it isn't easy. So many things pull at me. It's tiring and frustrating. The lines in the Casting Crowns song "East to West" are so spot on:

I start the day the war begins
Endless reminding of my sin
And time and time your truth is drowned out
By the storm I'm in

How I tire of the storm. I know why Paul says to "run the race with perseverance". I hear you Paul. I need perseverance x 1000. I want to get to heaven so I can see my God face to face. But I want to get to heaven even more so I can that my battle with sin will be no more.

Until then...I intend to fight in God's strength and grace.

What do you need from God right now?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

7 Questions Before Teaching/Preaching

These are the 7 questions that Francis Chan asks himself before he preaches. I think these are good for anyone who is going to be teaching or discipling others.

1. Am I worried about what people think of my message or what God thinks? (Teach with fear)

2. Do I genuinely love these people? (Teach with love)

3. Am I accurately presenting this passage? (Teach with accuracy)

4. Am I depending on the Holy Spirit's power or my own cleverness? (Teach with power)

5. Have I applied this message to my own life? (Teach with integrity)

6. Will this message draw attention to me or to God? (Teach with humility)

7. Do the people really need this message? (Teach with urgency)