Tag: God

Prayer Mentoring: Praying through challenging times

Life in a fallen world means we’ll be facing hard times. Often these hard times are a means God uses to draw us to Himself.

Pray
We say prayer should be a first response not a last result. Prayer is really both. The challenge of hard times comes when all we can do is wait.

Pray Scripture
The Bible gives us many patterns for prayer. Paul particularly records prayer thoughts for our benefit. The Bible says that if we ask according to the will of God we know we have that what we ask. Praying through Scriptures is helpful in this regard.

Psalms
When going through a challenging time the best word of advice I received was to find a Psalm, grab hold of it, and pray through it regularly. So, step one- search the Psalms and find one that speaks to your situation.

Meditate
Biblical meditation is filling our mind with Scripture. It’s an act of focus on God’s Word. This is different from Eastern meditation that focuses on emptying one’s mind. Choosing a Psalm helps in filling our minds with Scripture. So, step two- read and focus on this Psalm regularly.

Journal
This can take on many forms, but one thing you want to do is to record God’s faithfulness. By choosing a Psalm it can guide you about what to write. Step three- write what Gods is doing.

The bottom line:
Prayer is key to navigating hard times. Often we don’t know what to pray as we wait for God to show up. Pick a Psalm and grab hold of it. It will guide and sustain you through challenging times.

For peace?

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People often ask for peace. I spoke with young men this morning about for keys to having peace. A good reminder for us all.

1) Work through conflict Phil 4:2-3
Work through or help others work through conflict. Avoiding conflict will result in a lack of peace. Choose courage and work through conflict.

2) Worshipful spirit Phil 4:4-7
When we rejoice and thank God for all situations we have peace. A worshipful spirit means we trust in God’s plan. Choose joy, it demonstrates faith.

3) Make disciples Phil 4:8-9
What we focus on we’ll see in others. By focusing on good things we’ll see it others, and then take the next step to apply to our own lives. This is the discipleship process. Making disciples leads to peace. Choose to focus on Nobel things and live them out.

4) Be content Phil 4:10-14
Possessions can distract us or they can propel us. We can accomplish God’s will with what we have. We can bless others and help others accomplish God’s will when we have an abundance. Choose to be content with what you have, it will maximize your ministry.

The bottom line:
If you’re lacking peace from God, check these areas as a start. They’ll take you a long way on the road of peace.

Prayer Mentoring: Big picture

In the past few weeks we’ve look at what prayer means, how to pray, our country, attitude, motivation… In learning to pray we must never forget what is critical to the process… We need to pray.

So, right now, stop what you’re doing, and just talk to God.

In learning about something we can easily get lost in the details. Prayer is talking to God. Like any relationship, consistent and constant communication is important. Talk to God. He loves hearing from you!

Prayer Mentoring: Motive

The glory of God should motivate us to pray and how to pray. To glorify is to reveal one’s self for who they are. God wants to be made known and for people to understand who He is. Prayer is central to that.

Our work
Whatever we do should be for God’s glory while also giving thanks (Col. 3:17). Life is a stewardship of the resources God gave us. Our job, ministry, family, life are all areas of stewardship. The question is who are we working for? If we’re in Christ, then all we do is for Christ. How we work demonstrates our faith in Christ.

Our ministry
Paul prayed for the Philippian believers that their love would grow… to the glory of God (Phil 1:9-11). Again, our actions show our faith in God. Paul also reveals to us that this is a process. It’s not a check list, ok, got it done. Our ministry motive of the glory of God should propel us to grow in our love and service. Prayer helps keep this in mind.

Our aim
Paul prayers similarly for the Thessalonians (2 Thes. 1:11-12). When we look at our work or we look at our ministry, all of our lives should be centered on revealing who God is. Our conduct and actions show the goodness of God. If we don’t have this motive in mind, our life and ministry will be off, and so will our prayers.

The Bottom line:
God’s glory should be a motivating force behind our prayer life. Glorification revolves around revealing who God is. A life motivated for the glory of God and prayers for the same produce profound results in eternity. The question comes down to this: who are we living for?

Prayer Mentoring: Attitude

Attitude counts. Like in any relationship, bad attitudes create bad results. When we pray, we need to make sure we have a proper attitude towards God.

Authentic
Matthew 6:5-15 describes the Lord’s Prayer. Before and after the prayer Jesus addresses our attitude. Prayer isn’t a check list thing, or showmanship. Prayer is a genuine conversation with a real God. Be real and be genuinely concerned for others.

Faith
James 1:5-8 describes the need for faith. Let’s face it, Jame’s words are hard to take. If we doubt then we’re unstable. Prayer is an act of faith where we realize and submit to God being in control. This is one of the hardest aspects of our relationship with God- waiting on and trusting in Him.

Obedience
1 John 3:22 describes the relationship between obedience and God acting. Again, like any relationship, if you violate the relationship things get awkward and out of sorts. A heart that seeks to live out God’s Word is key to God answering prayer. (Note verses 20! God is bigger than our mistakes!)

Humility
1 Peter 5:6-7 describes what is essential to any relationship and especially to God. Humility goes a long way in relationships. Key to this verse is submitting to God, recognizing He is in control. Note that these verses are not a legalistic pacify God thing. God’s heart is to exalt and to care for His own.

The bottom line:
Our attitude matters when we talk to God. If you sense your prayers are not heard or being ignored, check your attitude. Don’t focus on false piety- be real. God wants to hear from you and He wants to answer prayer.

Prayer Mentoring: How

Just talk to God as if He’s right there with you, because He is. Communication involves three key things: the sender, the message, and the receiver. Prayer is communicating to God. It’s that simple.

God talking to us
God’s communicates to us through creation (Psalms 19:1-6; Romans 1:18-23), the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:19-21), the Spirit (Romans 8:14; 1 John 5:6) and God’s people (Ephesians 4:15; 5:18-21, Colossians 3:16). We’ll explain these areas further in the future.

Us talking to God
Prayer is the means we use to talk with God. We already looked at the various words for prayer. What is amazing is God hears our prayers and wants us to communicate with us!

Elements of prayer
When we pray we address God the father (Matthew 6:6,9; John 17; Romans 8:15; Ephesians 3:14). We are able to have access to God the father because of Jesus (1 Timothy 2:1-7; Hebrews 2:14-18; 4:14-16). Jesus and the Holy Spirit help us in our prayers, the Spirit even acting as an “autopilot” when we don’t know how to pray (Romans 8:26-39; Hebrews 7:25)! Because of these things, we close our prayers “in Jesus’ name” (John 14:13-14).

Content
When praying, we should ask in faith (Mark 11:12-14, 20-26). God’s Word is key to this. Even more so as we should ask according to God’s will (1 John 5:14-15). When we pray according to the Bible and in harmony with God’s promises we should expect to receive (1 John 5:14-15; Matthew 7:7-11). If we do not ask or ask with wrong motives, we should expect nothing (James 4:2-3). A bulk of future posts will deal content.

Where
We can pray anywhere. But, I’d take to heart the message Bill Hybels shared about “the chair.” Find a place where you regularly meet with God for Bible reading and prayer. It’s the foundation for growing your relationship with God. Relationships take time. Find your chair.

The bottom line:
Prayer is simply talking to God. We address God the father because we have access to Him through Jesus. Not only that, but the Spirit also helps us in praying.

Assignments:

  1. Pray.
  2. Find your chair. (Place to meet with God.)

Prayer Mentoring: Asking…

The words for prayer in the Bible mean to ask. In studying prayer I found this shocking. Often people feel guilty about just asking God for things and not just talking to him. Asking is part of being a child of God. My sons often ask me things. In fact, that’s a majority of our conversations. Why? So glad you asked…

Words for prayer in the Bible
Hebrew– Palal (Genesis 20:7; Deuteronomy 9:20; Psalm 5:2; 1 Samuel 1:26)
Greek– aiteo (Mark 11:24; James 1:16)
Main meaning: To ask on behalf of another, intercede.
Related meaning: To ask or to demand.
This is the most common word for payer used in the Old Testament.

Hebrew– sha’al (1 Samuel 23:2; 30:8; 2 Samuel 2:1; Psalm 27:4; Psalm 122:6)
Greek– deomai (Luke 22:32; Romans 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 3:10)
Main meaning: To ask for guidance, inquire.
Related meaning: To ask.
This word is used when the one praying is in great need.

Hebrew– paga’ (Jeremiah 7:16; 27:18; Job 21:15)
Main meaning: To ask for grace.
This word is a highly emotional term in which one beseeches God.

Greek– proseuchomai (Romans 8:26; Ephesians 6:18; Philippians 1:9; 1 Timothy 2:8; Hebrews 13:18)
Main meaning: To pray, ask, beseech.
This word is the most common term for prayer in the New Testament.

The bottom line:
Though our talking to God should involve man different activities, like worship, thanksgiving and confession; prayer seems focused on one activity: asking. Next week we’ll look at the basics of prayer. I’m very grateful for the work Pastor Matthew invested in teaching men how to prayer. Much of these blogs comes from notes passed down from him.

Assignments:
Pray.
Find a tool that works for you to record what you asked God for. Include three things: date, request, and how God answered.
If you have not already, seek out a prayer partner to work through this journey with.

Prayer Mentoring: Just talking to God

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A few different and disconnected things in life pointed to the issue of prayer. Prayer eludes us often. We love it, it’s hard work, and often we don’t always understand it. Even the disciples- those traveling regularly with Jesus- struggled with the issue of prayer and asked “Lord, teach us to pray.” Given these things I want to write about prayer and it’s role in our relationship with God.

Prayer mentoring
Prayer is something that is caught not just taught. I would not classify myself as a master of the subject. I frankly don’t think I’ve had enough life experience to say I’m great in this area. In the prayer mentoring posts I want to echo mentors of mine who have taught me to pray, as well as share things in my journey with prayer. Blogging & writing isn’t the best way to learn how to pray. So, if you’re following this, seek out a partner to walk through this with.

Just talk to God
Just pray. Don’t try to be poetic or anything, but just start praying. A mentor of mine in college and seminary said this: “If something is truly worth doing, it’s worth doing poorly.” The meaning of this proverb is this: You just need to start. You can always improve. Don’t let “am I praying wrong?” stop you from something that is important. Actually, something that is vital. Talk to God like He’s right there in the room with you… because He is!

Just ask
Matthew records Jesus saying this: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you… If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” We have not because we ask not, so just ask. That’s what prayer means, to ask. Here is a thing you can ask God for right now: God, help me learn how to talk you.

The bottom line:
Prayer is vital to our relationship with God. Prayer is also something that is caught not just taught. There are two key things to prayer: talking to God, and asking. In future posts we’ll focus on a different aspect to prayer. Most likely these posts will be on Tuesday. Ok, here’s your assignments for this week…

Assignments:
Pray.
Seek a prayer partner to work through learning how to pray together.
Ask God to help you learn how to pray.

Christianity is not a crutch, it’s a wheelchair

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Christianity is about God providing what you and I are incapable of providing. A frequent statement on religion is that it’s a crutch. As Christians we forget that without Jesus showing up, a crutch will not be enough. No, Christianity is a wheelchair because apart from Christ we’re broken.

The freedom of being broken
Christianity is about Jesus. Paul says in Ephesians how we were once dead but made alive in Christ. He further states that by nature we were children of wrath. The Bible also uses terms like enemies of God, unworthy, etc. Here is the key: Jesus showed up and did what we could not nor cannot do. Freedom results in being broken because we have no need to worry if we’re good enough or capable enough to earn God’s favor.

Big savior, not stingy one
God did not dispense grace with a teaspoon or an eye dropper. God poured it on. God demonstrated GREAT love, being RICH in mercy, LAVISHING grace upon those in Christ. God did this so you can show His IMMEASURABLE riches of grace in KINDNESS towards us in Jesus. This is not a God who is mad, reluctant or stingy. This is a God who is present, active and very willing.

A family for good
Jesus freed us to bless others. Because we don’t have to worry about being capable of earning Grace, because we don’t have to worry if God is willing enough to care for us, in Jesus you and I have the freedom to focus on serving others. We should serve because that is what God expects to do. Not as a “Jesus project,” but because loving God means loving the things He loves- people. A trophy of God’s grace is a vibrant Christian who serves.

Dirty boys are cool
Moms love it when their boys are clean. Dads love it when their boys are muddy. It’s time the church gets muddy. If we’re a family for good then we need to be willing to get messy. More people need the wheel chair of God’s grace because people cannot save themselves, they need Jesus. We need to love people because God loves people. We need to love people with no expectation of return, because that’s what Jesus did. If we’re willing to serve with no expectation of return that opens the opportunity share about Jesus. Let’s get dirty. There’ll be a time to clean up later.

The Bottom line:
When we realize that Christianity is a wheelchair not a crutch it frees us up to be what God created us to be. In being broken we can love humbly, seeing messy lives as us if it were not for Grace. In seeing a big savior we have full assurance that God is willingly and actively involved in our life. He is our life. In being a family for good we see purpose and intentionality. In getting into the messy things of life we see God gave us a mission.

One more thing…
I’m fine with Christianity being a wheelchair. Resting in God and having Him taking us to where He wants us to go is the most incredible experience of life. God doesn’t push the chair on clean streets. God wants to hit the mud puddles! We can clean up for the supper later.

We have a dad problem, not a debt problem

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” ~Apostle Paul

Our society has a dad problem. Not a debt problem. Not a… name the issue… problem. We have a dad problem. If you look at crime statistics, school statistics, you name it, you’ll likely be able to trace it to a dad issue.

Why a dad not a man problem?
I think THE crucial aim of a dad is to develop his boy into a man, and to model for his daughter what a great man is. This involves being a man himself. This involves character. This involves being a romancer of his wife. This even involves showing how to get back up from failure. If I had to target one area to win the war on manhood, I’d start with dads.

Father doesn’t mean dad
The ability to cause a life to happen doesn’t make you a dad. Let’s define what a dad is: A dad is a responsible man who defends, disciplines, develops and loves on people. I say people because you can’t be one person at work and another at home. Consistency matters if we’re to develop our kids to be solid adults. Kids pick up on hypocrisy quickly.

The war on manhood
Our society lost what it means to become a man. This came from three things: 1) A consequence of an egalitarian view of the family instead of a complementarian view. 2) Men have abdicated their responsibility of being a man. 3) It takes good dads to to have good dads. Dad’s are the key to turning this around.

The example
If we want a model of what it means to be a man, Jesus is the best place to start. 1) Jesus stayed on mission. He pointed people to God. That’s how He rolled. 2) Jesus patiently pushed, taught and comfortable people. The disciples were a crazy bunch of dudes who often lacked faith and were about themselves. After Jesus rose from the dead, the 12 men acted as selfless servants. 3) Jesus defended people. Jesus sacrificially defended people. A man’s job is to take the hits for others.

The bottom line
Want to solve our debt problem, crime problem, poor problem, etc? Open the door to develop solid dads. Character, principle, compassion, romance, creativity, productivity and joy starts with dad.. For my Christian friends, great dads is the start to great theology.

PS… Thanks, Dad!