Getting Things Done (Will Power vs Spirit Power)

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Over this last week I have learned a lot about myself and the nature of things. I learned that I try to hard to do things on my own. I don’t trust in God nearly as much as I should or even as much as I tell other people to. I know I guess that makes me a hypocrite and for that I must repent. (I’m a work in progress please give me grace).

One thing I can say is that at least I am becoming more sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit to recognize that I am relying on my own strength too much. Don’t get me wrong sometimes pure dogged determination will get a lot accomplished. However, when we need to do things in the spiritual realm that type of determination just doesn’t cut it. I am learning that the hard way. But at least I am learning that and not being so hard headed/hearted as to completely ignore it.

Why is it so hard to live in step with the Spirit? I would venture to say it is because he is perfect and we are not. We have a hard time trusting in things we cannot see. We see things in the natural form forgetting that there is a spiritual side to life as well. Just like the graphic there are steps we feel we need to take and we tend to think that only we can accomplish them. Instead we need to be more like Martin Luther, he would pray for two hours a day, except on days he had much to accomplish he would then pray for three hours. He recognized the importance the spiritual plays with the physical.

This week I have had a major amount of reading and studying to do and to be honest with you I will not complete all that is laid out in front of me. At least not of my own accord. I guess you can say that I am a doubting Thomas in a sense. I don’t see how the Lord will be able to help me get through all of the reading I have to do to get certain assignments completed. Sure I should probably be using the time I am writing this to be reading, but for whatever reason it just feels futile.

I know I will get the work done maybe not on time but it will be completed. There is one assignment that is already behind, but If the others are done by the due date it is because the Lord gave me the strength and wisdom to accomplish it. There is no other way for it to be done.

There will be some who discount what I have to say in this post and I’m okay with that. I know it is hard to think the Holy Spirit has any control in our lives and how things turn out. I struggled with this idea for years, but have come to a place of acceptance. Knowing that God is sovereign has made a huge impact on how I live day to day. It doesn’t mean I get a pass to be lazy because God will take care of it. It does however free me from guilt knowing that God will have me accomplish his will in his time and not my own. If he wants me to pass a class or to fail then that is what is going to happen. I still have to bear down and do my part, God is not just going to give me “A’s” because I’m his child. I have to work for them.

This is where the age old debate of God’s sovereignty and human responsibility come into play. D.A. Carson has an excellent book on the topic. All of this to say we are not the product merely of our own strength but a combination of our work and the work of the Holy Spirit.

Question: Do you tend to trust in yourself more or the role of the Spirit in your life?

A New Found Respect for My Pastor

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After this last week I have a new found respect for all the good pastors out there. I have had so much work to get done this week I have had to choose what gets done and what doesn’t. There has been a rather difficult sermon text I’ve been dealing with since Sunday.

The reason I have a new found respect for good pastors is it’s not easy trying to deal with life and write a good sermon. I was able to do it last semester because it was mostly all I had going on. Not so this semester, there is an abundance of irons in the fire. And I’m trying to keep them turning in time. Without falling behind. I thought doing this job would be much easier than it really is.

Are you looking at someone doing a job you wish you had and thinking it’s easy? Chances are they make it look easier than it is. I have several friends who are pastors and most of them make sermon prep sound much easier than it really is. This new revelation has not made me want to do the job any less, it has shown me how much more dependent on the Holy Spirit I need to be.

There doesn’t seem to be enough coffee in the world to help me focus on the challenges that lay ahead of me. I don’t know about you but this kind of wake up call is good to have before you are in the “Big Leagues.” I would hate to be in full-time paid ministry learning how difficult the day in and day out is.

Question: Who do you need to get a new found respect for in your life?

How Can You Be An Everyday Hero?

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This head line seems to just about sum up all to be said. But, sometimes all we need is a hero, someone to step in and save us from our lives. There are a lot of times we don’t care where this so called hero comes from. I got the idea from watching a movie, specifically DareDevil.

This hero can come in many forms. It could be your local cashier at Wal-mart, or your barista at Starbucks. You never know you could become someones hero. By the smallest act of kindness can make a huge difference. I have witnessed it many times in my own life how something as simple as a phone call can turn someone’s day/week around. It seems inconsequential to us but to that person it means the world.

Being a hero doesn’t always have to be some extreme event like those portrayed on TV and in the movies. You don’t have to rescue someone from a car wreck or a burning building. Take a co-worker out for coffee and get to know them a little bit better. Call up a friend you haven’t seen in a while and go to lunch.

One of the best things you can do is volunteer. Especially with organizations like the Cub Scouts and feed in to the lives of young children. Help to mold them into model citizens. Or another way you can serve is by getting involved with a local food pantry or a similar type institution. By doing these random acts of kindness and giving back to the lives of others you are being an everyday hero.

Christ told his disciples if they saw one hungry to feed them, or naked to clothe them and if they did it for the least of them the did it for him. In another place it speaks of doing well for a stranger and you may have entertained an angel. So you never quite know who you are doing the good work for. So always be vigilant and let your good work become God’s work.

I long to hear the stories you will have of all the good you have been doing. By God’s grace I lead a few Bible studies, and a cub scout den.

My question to you is how can you be an everyday hero now?

You Took Your Son Where?!

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Now, I have your attention I will happily answer that question. I took my son to a men’s Bible study. Every monday night (well most) for the last four or so years my wife knew where I would be. I was going to be with a group of guys who invest into me and I into them. There is a solidarity which takes place with this group of men I have never experienced anywhere else.

Over the last several months my youngest son Richard has been wanting to go with me to these meetings. At first I was rather hesitant, I mean come on he’s only six. Then I realized he’s only six and he still wants to spend time with his dad. He wants to do things like his dad does them. I am starting to appreciate that fact. There is going to come a time when he may not want to hang out with me as much and I will need to prepare myself for it.

When he first started wanting to go he was around four and he was just way too young. He has ADHD and has a hard time not getting into things. As he has gotten older he has gotten a bit better and I allow him to bring his Kindle Fire to occupy him while we have our study. Sure I would love to go back to when it was just me getting away from the family and having some alone time. But, I would be missing out on so much. This young man loves me dearly and wants to be around me.

He is seeing what male bonding can and should look like. He is getting a picture of brotherhood inside of Christ. As we get together around food and celebrate the Word of God. I will one day have the time to myself again but I will never be able to regain time spent with my son as a chid. By me taking him it is teaching me how to be less selfish and more of a role model.

While I long to take my oldest son, he has not desire to go and I am not going to force it upon him. I will take the opportunities the Lord is placing before me, to grow and nurture my little one the best I can.

Questions: What are somethings you can be doing with your child(ren) you have been avoiding? Is there a special way you spend time with your little ones?

Doing What You Least Want to Do

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There is a section of Scripture that speaks directly to this matter. Just maybe not the way you are thinking. It is dealing with sin, not some job or chore you don’t want to mess with.

In the 7th chapter of Romans, Paul tells us,he ends up doing the things he doesn’t want to do and the things he wants to do he does not do. To be exact this is what he says, “For I know that nothing good dwells ain me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 bFor I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, cit is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. “ (Romans 7:18-20, ESV).

There is no way in our day and age we are any better than the Apostle Paul was. It seems Paul longed to do good things but struggled deep within himself. As a Christian we should all feel in a similar fashion. One of the biggest places I struggle in life is in my home. I long to be a good husband, and father. I feel as though I fail daily.

My boys and I have a hard time relating to one another, at least my oldest son and I. It is a difficulty that brings the struggle of what may be sin. I want to love on them the same way God loves me, but I know for a fact I don’t. There is more yelling going on than I ever imagined would happen in my home. Whether it is between the boys at each other or me telling them to stop.

Something I always thought was oxymoronic was when my parents would say “this hurts me more than it hurts you.” I never understood what they meant until I became a parent myself. The act of disciplining my children can be more psychically challenging to me, than the act of disciplining them physically. However it is required to be a good parent. Hebrews 12:11 tells us”For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”

So in reality I am doing the best thing for them even though they cannot see it yet. God in His infinite wisdom disciplines us His children as well. It is an act which we do not find comfortable, but it is for our good in the end. There are many things in life we are going to do which we do not want to do. Not all of them are going to fall in to the category that Paul is talking about. The good news is for those of us in Christ we are no longer slaves to sin, it does not have the right to control us. It merely has a residence in us.

While we cannot fully evict it we no longer have to listen to what it tells us. We are indwelt with the power of the Holy Spirit. With this person residing in us we can achieve much. A question I have for you is, “Is it better to have the Spirit inside of you or Jesus beside you? Where do you derive more strength?” As we grow and mature we grow in humble reliance on the Spirit.

May we all learn to do the things we least want to do, so we can become masters of the things we want to do. It will take a life time to learn this so we better start paying attention now.

Question: What are things you don’t want to do, but need to learn to do?

Why Is Prayer Such a Challenge?

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Have you ever felt prayer is hard to do? If yes, then you aren’t alone. I can name a ton of benefits of the reasons to pray. I bet you can too. So why is it so challenging to take the time to pray? I have one professor who would argue, we don’t trust God to be God.

He would go on to say our faith is to small. Not saying it in a condescending way, but in a matter of fact type of way. We don’t trust God so we don’t grow our faith. We feel that when we pray God doesn’t hear us. And to be completely honest there are times I wonder “God, are you really there?” I would love for Him to respond in some majestical way.

I think we don’t make prayer the priority in life it should be. We don’t put it on our schedule. Michael Hyatt has said, “What gets on the schedule is what gets done.” in several different things I have seen/heard him do. I have to agree with this point. If it is important enough to make the schedule than it means it needs to be taken care of.

The sad thing for me is I have and app on my phone for prayer it even alerts me to when its time to pray. There are many times lately I have just blown it off to keep doing what I am doing. I need to be better about it, maybe change the timer he app wants my attention.

There is another aspect we need to consider also, spiritual warfare. Satan does not want you and I to pray. He would much rather us to stay unconnected from God. It is easier for him to pull us away from the things of God when we are not connected to him. Satan knows that when we are in real relationship with the Father, life for him is much more difficult.

We are in a battle let us never forget that and the only way to win is to be in constant communication with the leader of the troops. The man who has oversight and can see the whole battlefield. He may not give us all the details,but he will let us know our next move. I’m not saying he will show us everything, he does reveal things a piece at a time sometimes.

If we feel our prayers are not being heard we have to ask ourselves what are we doing to keep them from being heard. Are we asking for the wrong things? Are we being selfish? Husbands, Are you loving your wife well? The book of James speaks about several of these issues. I would suggest you check it out.

I know writing this post has been more for me than you. I hope it has been a blessing to you and encouragement to you to more than a discouragement.

Question: Do you struggle with prayer? How do you get back into the habit when you fall out of it?

Do I Really Matter?

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We have all asked the questions at one point in our life. Yes you do matter, you may not mean something to everyone but to someone you are everything. I recently read in a blog post that if you think you are a pro then you are one. I think that works for some professions, but not all. It is easier for me to call myself a writer than a pastor.

The reason being is there are gatekeepers in becoming a pastor. I have to go through so many hoops (its almost ridiculous) but I am doing it because it’s what I feel called to. I have since I first came to Christ at 20 years old. It is often a struggle to feel like my calling is real because I have so many obstacles in front of me.

Even if things do not turn out how I would hope for them to, God is still in control. It will require faith and humility to learn how to trust God in these situations. Whoever tells you it’s easy is lying to you. God is going to allow you to reach a place where all you have is Him. In that place your faith will grow and you will learn to be more dependent on Him and trust yourself less. In doing that we start to learn our value in Christ.

Why do we ask the question of whether we matter or not? It’s because we all want to feel like someone cares. We can say we know that Jesus loves us, but if we are honest that isn’t enough for most of us. It is a condition of the fall that took place in Genesis 3. When Adam and Eve were tricked into believing a lie. It was a lie that they could be like God, when they had missed the point that we were already like God, being created in His image.

As we begin to really live in the love of Christ, we begin to feel our significance. We stop looking to things that are outside of our control for satisfaction. We want to feel loved and wanted by someone. We should feel love and acceptance from our parents, our spouses, our children, even our friends. In the end they are all going to let us down to some degree. But in Christ we find all of those things and so much more. I am not promising that life is going to be easy peasy, or a walk in the park.

Life is still going to have its challenges, but in knowing Jesus loves and accepts me I can face those challenges head on. Trust Jesus with your life so you can experience this same feeling.

Question:How can you learn to rely on God for your identity/significance?

Are You a Generous Person?

For some people generosity comes naturally, while for others it can be like pulling teeth. I am part of the first group. I enjoy giving and doing for other people. There is just something intrinsic about giving for me. I am not sure if it is one of those things concerning nature verses nurture.


What I do know is that not everyone likes to give. I’m not just talking about money, it can be time or talents. For me it is hard to understand what makes it so difficult to give.


I have heard it said that the poorest people often give the most. I have seen this principle in my own life. However I have seen some people of mean be rather generous as well. What is shocking is that some of the stingiest people I have ever met were supposed “Christians.”


In 2 Corinthians 8, Paul speaks about the generosity of the churches in Macedonia. And how they gave out of their lack because that is what they were lead to do. We should take our lead from them and give even when we cannot afford to do it easily. When we give to others and it costs us something we are showing how important that person is. Paul was trying to tell the Corinthians they needed to follow the example set before them.


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Generosity is something we can learn. We learn it by doing. The more we do it the more we look for chances to do it. The Lord was the penultimate example of generosity. He made the choice to leave the perfect presence of the father to take the form he created in man, to join us. He even chose to love us while we were unloveable.


Why can’t I be more generous? What keeps me from giving of myself to those around me? Pride and selfishness are  the culprits and I bet they are the same things that keep you from doing what you know you should do. I am a selfish person (sometimes), especially when I am having a bad day pain wise. I don’t like to give of myself to my family or my friends. It is easier to hold back pieces of myself than to give. Then there are the times pride keeps me from giving because I think I’m better than someone else. I don’t know why I feel that way and it doesn’t happen often, but it still happens.


Like anything else the first way to combat something is to admit you need help. This is me telling the world I need to be more generous. One way I can is by being around other people who are generous. It tends to rub off. At least I hope so. Another way is to love my family well despite myself and my circumstances. It may mean reading an extra chapter to my son, or listening about Pokemon for the millionth time.


To show you one way I’m trying to be generous I’m giving away my free devotional The Long and the Short of It when you sign up for my email newsletter.


How can you be more generous?

Finding My Voice

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I have been writing constantly for a month now. I cannot guarantee that I have found my voice, but what I do know is that I am finding it. I thank all of you who have shown an interest in my blog and made the choice to follow me. THANK YOU.
I am still learning who I am as a writer as as such I may have sometimes i veer off course. I hope you will stick with me through those times, and possible encourage me to find my way back to what made you enjoy my writing to begin with.

I may end up slowing down a little bit in the coming months with school getting ready to start back up. I plan on writing you guys (and gals) good quality content. It is my hope to post 3x a week. If there are things you would like for me to consider writing about, please contact me and let met know. I will do my best to do it.

While I may be alone on this side of the keyboard I know we are creating a great community here. In the next couple of months I will be moving to a self hosted site and hope that you all will continue to follow along. I love to talk about God, my family and even my health (as crazy as it is).

Thank you for coming on this journey with me as I find my voice and attempt to lead this tribe.
God Bless,
Paul

Can I Do That?

Do I have what it takes to lead? I have moments of  confidence and then after speaking with certain people I  feel deflated like I am not meant to do what I feel called to do. I often wonder can I?
  • Can I be a good pastor?
  • Can I be a better parent?
  • Can I make it in the real world?
  • Can I be an effective writer?
  • Can I….?
I recently read a blog post about admitting you aren’t the one. It made me think “am I the one to change the world with my writing?” Or am I just another guy going through seminary to say I have a degree? Where I am right now I could make a difference in someones life. I like to think I do on Monday nights, as I lead a small (sometimes 5-20guys) group of men.
I know that in and of myself I cannot do it. It requires a humble dependance on Jesus and his work through the Holy Spirit. There is not one thing on that list I feel qualified to do on my own. If I’m honest and other Christians are honest they feel the same way.
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One thing I need to keep at the front of my mind is that I am running my own race, not someone else’s. I cannot train to be someone else. I can only train for the roles I am called to.I need to play my position. Because not everyone is called to be a Paul (you know the guy in front). Some of us are called to be Luke’s (support personnel) or a Timothy (a future leader). I am still not clear on whether I am a Timothy or a Luke and that is okay.
To answer my own questions of “Can I….?” Yes I can be all of those things; if it is in God’s will and as long as what I’m perusing is pure. I can do anything as long as I believe I capable of trying. The only true failure is to not try at all. I’m making a promise to myself now that I may mess up but I will always try.
What do you need to tell yourself you can do? Where do you need some encouragement today?