Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Song 1-23-12

King David is famous for writing down his prayers. If he didn’t, we would not know how to pray. But did you know that fifty-six other authors wrote their own personal prayers which ended up in the Bible? Just as each psalm is different, each author provides a different slant to how they see and experience the work of God in their lives.

The following prayer is how I saw God work in my life this past week. And I learned again that writing down my prayers rather than just saying and then forgetting them is a practice well worth repeating.

Just as the psalms show us a plethora of emotions, none of our feelings make us unfit to approach God. Like keeping a diary, writing down your prayers is an act I encourage heartily. But if you can’t do that yet, start by reading Psalms and let them be your prayer. That’s what they are there for!

God, why is it that You raise my hopes,

Only to dash them against the rocks?

Why is it that You get me excited about life,

And then it slips through my fingers?

You made me this way.

You knew exactly what You were doing.

But like a child with a dog, You play ‘keep away’

You are playing this game with my heart,

with the things I desire most.

You say, “Here is your opportunity!”

only to change Your mind a millisecond later!

God, You are the reason why I live.

You were healing me before and after I left my mother’s womb

And I will never stop praising You because my gratitude to You is immense!

But why are You making things so hard?

You say “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle

Than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

But is it also easier for a camel to take this same passage

Than for a man who tries to do right to be satisfied?

I am making mistakes left, right and centre

and You do not notice.

If You do, You sit in Heaven and laugh.

You say, ”Oh, he fell. He messed up!”

Why is it that You do this?

God, I don’t know what to do!

I don’t know how to live!

Teach me how!

Lord Jesus, be magnified in the opportunities I miss.

May Your power be magnified in the balls I drop.

They are not mistakes I make

more than they are mistakes You make.

You created me and knew exactly what You were doing.

And You were pleased.

The mistakes I make, are You pleased with them?

Do You want me to continue in my fumbling ways?

They drive me nuts, but if they praise You than by all means!

I desire to praise You because that is true life.

You have made my hands frail

so that what I drop, You can catch.

Catch me! Catch the ones I care about!

And may You be honoured by my fumbling ways.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Daring God

Two times in the gospel of Matthew (Matt 3:17, 17:5) and twice in the Gospel of Mark (Mk 1:11, 9:7) we hear about God’s pleasure with His Son Jesus Christ. “It’s easy to love Jesus,” we might think, “he was perfect after all!” We may conclude: “God loved Jesus that much because He was with Him since the beginning of time, therefore they have a very strong relationship.” Or “God loves Jesus so much because God knew that Jesus was 100% obedient to his every beckon call. How could you not love a son like that?”

The next time you ask these questions, I challenge you to dare God. Ask Him something like this: “God, I’m harder to love. I dare you to love me like that. I’m not that Holy you know!” Talk to Him about the things that make you both lovable and loathable, a Superman and a sissy and listen to his response.

Next, take those verses and make a slight change to each one. Each of them says something like this: ”This is my son, whom I love very much. I couldn’t be happier with Him.” For this exercise, I encourage you to paraphrase the Bible slightly so it says something like this: “I am your son / daughter; whom you love very much, you couldn’t be happier with me.” Then put these words on repeat in your mind as you go through your day and see how you feel at the end.

I can hear you objecting: “I thought Christ’s purity and Godliness was what set Him apart from the rest of mankind. God could love Him because Jesus could hold His side of the bargain. But I can’t. So therefore, I can’t talk to God like that.”

And you’re right, he is the only one who can do this. But He is willing to hold up your side of the bargain as well.

The question is: do you want Him too? He will accept your dare!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Why do Bad things happen to Good People?

Would somebody please tell me why bad things happen to good people? Over the past twenty-two years I have read the answer to this question many times. But it wasn’t until this morning when I realized how simple it really is. If you are willing to open your Bible, you will discover the answer.

John 9 is known for a miracle Jesus performed when He healed a man born blind. It proved again that He truly is God incarnate as “Nobody [had] ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind” before (John 9:32).

This passage is also an ideal example of faith formation. Though it is easier to believe that Jesus Christ is the formator, I believe the disciples are the formatees and the blind man is not Jesus’ focus. He is simply the object Christ uses to teach his disciples a lesson.

The place where Christ forms his disciples’ faith is in verses 1-5.

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?”

“It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him. We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work. But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world.”

John 9:1-5 (NLT)

When they saw the man on the roadside, the disciples quickly decided that they knew what the blind man’s problem was. It was either because of his sins or his parents’ sins that had caused him to be born this way. Many people who come for faith formation believe they know what the problem is. If they only help the formator diagnose it, the problem should be solved faster.

The disciples are like this. They are certain they know what the problem is and want it to be dealt with ASAP. However, instead of ridiculing the blind man or his parents for their sins, which is probably what the disciples thought Christ would do, He turns the tables on them and says, “Stop pointing fingers! Nobody did anything wrong! This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.” (Verse 3)

So why do bad things happen to good people? Jesus didn’t give his disciples the answer they were expecting, concluding “they don’t happen to good people!” or “they always have and always will happen, so deal with it!” No, according to Jesus, these things happen “so the power of God can be seen in them.”

If there was a passage in the Bible worth memorizing, it would be this one. Because, if there is one question everybody asks at least once in their lives, it is this one.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Quiet! I Need Time!

Over the past months, I have wondered what it means to start and to keep a “quiet time.” I used to see people at camp or at the Christian university I attended describe lengthy and complicated ways to spending time with God. Though my desire was still there, this type of a quiet time was a turn off. Later, my dad told me that he didn’t have “quiet times” very often. Yet he is a Godly man. Maybe I don’t need to jump through this hoop after all. But I still wondered, “if I want to meet with God, and I do, and if God wants to meet with me, and He does, why is it so hard for me to do it?”

“Quiet time” does not have a definition except that, if you want to have one, you need to spend time in quiet. Having your quiet time at a rowdy football game might be difficult, because it is neither “quiet” nor do we have undisrupted “time” to spend with God.

However, as Gary Thomas asks in his book Sacred Pathways: Discover Your Soul’s Path to God, “was my friend’s method of walking by the bay any less holy than my method of praying through a list of family members, fellow Christians, foreign countries, and friends who didn’t know the Lord?”

I would say ‘no’ because doing any or all of these things requires ‘time’ and uninterrupted ‘quiet.’ Though I have thought for many months about what a true quiet time might look like, I am realizing that the answer to this question has such an easy answer – whatever works for you.