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?

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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?

For the Love of Money

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I’m going to assume most of know how the song goes. For the love of money people will steal from their brother. The Bible says the love of money is the root of many kinds of evils. I had a friend ask a question about selling the gospel to make a fortune. Do you think it is okay to make money off of the Gospel?

What a loaded question. If it were evil to make money off of the gospel no pastor would be able to receive a paycheck. I do believe there is another section of Scripture that says the worker is worthy of his wage. I think it depends on the context of how money is being made off the Gospel. Meaning that is it coming from an honest stream of income that seeks to glorify the Lord, or is it something that just seeks to build up that singular person?

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus speaks about seeking first the kingdom of God and everything will be added to you. Meaning that if you make the gospel a priority the things you need for life will be taken care of. Why do we allow money to get such a hold on our hearts? What is it about money that entangles us so easily?

It seems to be the promises it makes but cannot fulfill. Promises to make you happy, to make you enjoy life, to meet all of your needs and expectations. Yet we fall victim to it every time it comes around flaunting itself in the newest form. Some of us (myself included) are in debt and my never see the light of day. By choosing to be a student and better myself I have brought this upon myself.

We do have something that will meet those promises, or should I say someone. Jesus Christ will fulfill our deepest needs and desires, by taking the selfish ones we once had and replacing them with new ones. Ones based on Him, HIs kingdom and glory.

I’d much rather be serving God with a little bit than living an exhorbant lifestyle displeasing to Him. The reason being is he has changed my heart. I no longer long to live solely for myself, I live for him (or at least try to) and want to see his kingdom expanded. We have a choice to be made in lives. We can either choose to live and build our kingdom. Or we can live lives centered on building His kingdom and in the process reap due rewards.

Question: Who’s kingdom are you going to work on building today?

What type of leadership do you appreciate ?

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It is official. I have started my first ever internship (but that is not what we are calling it). I got to lead a Bible study on 1 John. I will be leading this study in several different forms over the next couple of months. This is an exciting time for me. I have longed to lead in my home church for a while now. This is my chance to either make it or fall flat on my face.

I plan on doing somethings a little differently than they have been done in the past, with this group. We usually meet on Wednesday nights and just do the study, there has been very little of doing life with one another. I intend on keeping in touch with these men through multiple forms of contact.

This is what I mean by leading from the front lines. If I want these guys to have solid relationships with each other they need to see their leader (which is me, for a short while) stepping up and giving a damn about their lives outside of Wednesday nights. If you go back to ancient Israel to the shepherding which took place there the shepherd was in the front, leading his flock. HIs flock knew his voice and would respond.

There are many advantages to leading from the front, you can see what lies ahead. You can view the terrain and plan accordingly, you are proactive instead of reactive. This is the type of leadership I have always admired. I hope to set an example these men will be willing to follow.

I also know leading from the front means I am going to be the one who catches the flack when things go awry. Trust me during these 16 weeks something is bound to go awry, Lord willing it won’t but if it does I am preparing myself for it.

Don’t get me wrong I am not out to criticize my current leaders styles. They have developed what works for them and it is fine. I want to become more involved and invested, than I have been. In the end I think it will develop more respect for me (who wouldn’t want that). It will also strengthen bonds being made amongst Christian brothers.

Christ is the ultimate example of leading from the front.

He could have sent any number of angels or other agents to earth, but he knew none of them could pay the price which had to be paid. He came down out of heaven, from his place of authority and put on flesh in order to restore a right relationship between us and him. He said no greater love have a man than this that he would lay his life down for his friends.

That is a courageous act of leadership. To die for those you love. He died for us while we were separated from him by sin. There is no other person who would do that. My little act of keeping in touch will pale in comparison, it is the best I can offer right now.

Question: How can you step up and lead from the front?

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?

The Importance of Developing a Schedule for Your Life.

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Over the past few weeks I have been muling over what to do with this up coming semester. I was not sure as to how I am going to handle it. What I decided to do was sit down and try and schedule out my days in a general format on how I would like them to look if possible. My day will look like this

Wake up- 7-7:30 except for Thursdays be up by 5:15-5:30 for Bible study
Eat Breakfast by 8:30
Pray and read the Bible before 9am
Study for classes from 9am-12pm
Eat lunch anytime between 12-1pm
Possibly resume study or take a break from 1-3
Kids return home 3:30ish
Cook dinner anywhere between 4-5:30pm
Eat dinner between 5-6pm
Monday and Weds (Men’s Bible studies) 6-9pm
Help with Boys as necessary 6-8:30
Put Boys to bed 8:30
Spend time either studying more or with Lory as possible.
Go to bed no later than 11:30 most nights.
Do laundry on Wednesday mornings.

It is not an exact science on how my days are going to always look, because I did not include Drs. appointments and other things which may arise. I have come to realize the importance of having a more detailed schedule for my life. If I don’t try to put order to things, certain projects will not be completed.

I need to make God a priority so it is the main reason why I have time for Bible reading and prayer scheduled in, it may go longer than the 30 minutes I have allotted for it, it may not. At least I have it down. Like Michael Hyatt has said, and I have quoted before “If it gets on the calendar it gets done.”

So I needed a daily calendar to keep track of what I should be doing when. The reason I am not getting straight to being with God in the morning is because my boys can be a bit rambunctious in the mornings so it is better for me to wait until they are at school. That’s time I can use on email and social media stuff which is not important and doesn’t require my full attention.

I wish I was able to schedule every minute of my day so I knew who everything was going to turn out. The truth is none of us can. We can only attempt to set up our days and hope God will allow us to follow the path we have laid out.

The Lord has his own plans for how our lives are going to turn out. We just have to trust in his sovereignty. I think it is prudent of us to make a schedule and try and keep it. It shows how we are trying to be good stewards of our time. Instead of letting time manage us we control it.

This is just an overview of what my days look like not in full detail.

Why do you think you may need to create a schedule for your life? It doesn’t have to be similar to mine, in fact it probably won’t be. But the question is can you create a schedule to make some positive changes in your life so that way you are mastering time and not the other way around.

I am not sharing this with you to show how I have it all together. I am sharing this with you to encourage you to think of ways you can make your life more efficient. So you can get more accomplished with the time we have been given. I want to be faithful with what I have been given so when the time comes I can be given more. How about you?

Question: What can you do to make your life more well managed?

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?

Some Help for Doing Family Devotions

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What can I say about family devotions? Depends really, on what you are looking for. Are you looking for a how to guide? I can offer you that. Or maybe you want to hear the truth about family devotions. They aren’t always easy or glamorous like TV, movies and books can make them out to be.

For instance in our house trying to get our boys to sit down for a quick (supposed to take 10minutes) study, turns into a 45 minute ordeal. But when these boys are into it, it is a sight to behold. They start asking questions and giving answers to other questions. It really is quite marvelous.

We have chosen to use a book called Old Story New it is a family devotional book that lays everything out there for you so you are not having to just read the Bible and try and explain everything. It gives you things to ask the kids. It also suggest things to pray for after you have done the study. I would recommend this book or its sibling Long Story Short; if you are like me pressed for time or just want the help to lead family devotions.

There are plenty of places in the Bible where we are told to instruct our children in the ways of the Lord. I am thinking right now of the proverb “Train up a child in the ways in which he should go and when he gets older he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

There are countless OT passages speaking to the same thing, about teaching your children as you go and as you come. Teach them while you walk in the day. The list goes on and on. So there has to be some importance to what is being said for it to be repeated. So if you are not doing it which we have not been the best at. Give it try. They offer both of these books on kindle, and you don’t have to buy the book you can get a sample before you buy it to see if it’s a fit.

Just start something with your family, especially dad, get involved show the kids your faith it will pay dividends in the end. I am not perfect we have tried in the past and given up. One of our goals this year is to have family devotions 4x a week. We will strive to meet that goal, even if we fall short at least we are spending time in God’s word as a family.

Question: What do you do for family devotions?

It’s Kinda Funny…

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Life can be kinda funny sometimes. I have had a situation in which I have been praying over for a little while and it is not one I care to get into great detail about. But when I thought I wasn’t going to do a certain thing an had what I thought was spiritual confirmation. I turn around and God has other plans. So it is kinda funny the way things work out.

It is not just with this situation but with a lot of them. Just as another example of how things have worked out. My wife and I were the perfect picture of what nemesis’s were in high school we really could not stand each other back then. It would not be until after high school when we would reconnect at a young adults event from a local church we would meet up again.

At first we were cordial with each other. She was different than I remembered her being. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it but there she was. After a few months of meeting together with this church group she made a general announcement about a concert she wanted to go to, but did not want to go alone. I volunteered to take her. This was our first “date.”

I would begin visiting her at work, taking her to lunch and bringing her little trinkets. It was about four or five months after our first date we started being an official couple. After dating for about eight months I asked her parents if I could marry her. We were married in Aril 2007.

Like i said its kinda funny the way things work themselves out. A biblical example is the Apostle Paul. Here is a man who is adamantly against Christianity and he turns out to be its biggest proponent apart from Jesus himself.

This was a man who condoned the murder of Stephen. He stood idly by with coats and cloaks at his feet. And did nothing to stop it from happening. He would later go on to be beaten, stoned, flogged, shipwrecked, imprisoned and later martyred for his faith.

As you can see life has a way of working itself out the way the Lord wants it to. I can think its going to go one way and ends up going in a completely different direction. Who knows right now I am studying to become a pastor, maybe the Lord has other plans for me. I really love this writing thing. Maybe, just maybe he will use this and my theological understanding to work into peoples libraries and make a difference. Right now I have no idea. I only hope I can enjoy the ride I am about to take.

Questioin: What in your life has the Lord turned around on you, that all you can do is look back and laugh?