Need to know love?

I was praying  this morning, and it turned into praying for someone to  know more of God’s love. Paul prayed a prayer in Ephesians 3, and it became the core of my prayer this morning. I’m putting a blank, instead of a specific pronoun, so that it can be an example of how to pray scripture. In this context, it isn’t about the person for whom I prayed, but rather, hopefully, a help to others as to how to pray.

Father, I lift _____ to you, and ask that you would give him/her the heart of a child toward you – a heart that trusts – eloquent in its simplicity. Lovingly trusting.

Help_______to see that their problems are not due to a lack of love and kindness on Your part, but rather due to the evil that men have invited into the world, and to which those around them have yielded their hearts.

And open ______ eyes to see their own children for what they really are – for as they do, it will help _____ understand their own need for You as Father.  Those little ones are just children in search of love and tenderness – someone they can trust with their own child heart and faith. Help______ to see, and to teach their children, that life is not about sex or sexuality or even gender, and neither is love. Help ______ to see that their own search for worldly love has left him/her feeling empty, and grant that _____ would know Your love in all its fullness:

Lord, grant, according to [in proportion to] the riches of Your glory, _______ to be strengthened with power through Your Spirit in their innermost being, and grant Christ to indwell [literally be comfortably at home in] _____ heart through faith. This I know will have the following results – so that, _______ being rooted and grounded in love,
may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge,

that _______ may be filled up to ALL the fullness of God.

Strengthened with power – verb and noun form in Greek of the word dunamis – ability! Through His Spirit – God’s ability turned loose in us. Christ indwelling us – being at home in us – so comfortably at home that He could kick back with His feet on the coffee table and just know He belongs there.

When those to things happen, the result is we come to know the love of Christ in its fullest dimensions – a knowledge greater than any the world offers, and we experience the fullness of what it means to be God’s house.

An Invitation


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An Invitation

How to be joyful, without faking it.

Come join me on a journey into joy. We are supposed to have joy as Christians, right? How do you find joy in a world like we have seen this month? The death of two black men at the hands of police officers and the media jumping on it without knowing whether or not the shootings were “justified.” Then the sniper attack on police in Dallas resulting in five dead officers and others wounded. Then a terrorist attack in Nice, France leaving over 80 dead. Finally, a failed attempted coup in Turkey.

And that’s the world stage! Then, there’s where we live. Friends dealing with cancer, marital problems, divorce, financial struggles, pressures at work and home.

Sounds pretty grim. And we’re supposed to be joyful?

 

Relentlessjoy

 

In my welcome to this blog, I shared an experience that set me on this journey many years ago. And it is a journey. I first wrote “Extreme Thanks” in 1991, under the title “He Is a Rewarder.” I’ve tried to come up with an elevator speech to answer the question, “What’s it about?”  I’m still working on it. I’m open to ideas.

It’s about learning to give thanks always for all things. Hmmm. What’s that tell you? Needs a little fleshing out.

Well, giving thanks is a form of praying, and it’s a part of prayer. So, the book is kind of about praying. Giving thanks is also a way of telling God that you trust Him in a given situation to work that situation for your good and His glory. So, it’s about trust and faith. Giving thanks helps us let go of our fears and learn to be joyful, to find God’s strength for our trials. It helps us be joyful even through our trials. So, it’s about finding joy. It’s all of that, and more.

It really is a journey. And the journey continues as I grow and learn.

Here’s the thing…

I’m not a “professional” Christian. I don’t get paid for it. I have pastored, been a music and youth minister, but that was a long time ago. As a lay-person, I’ve led worship, led home church and cell church groups. For my entire adult life, since college, I have worked full-time at “real world” jobs. There have been times through the years that I have been more successful at living out and applying the lessons I’ve learned and written about than others. Now I’m at a place where I really need to just live it, to the extreme, to the maximum. It is my heart’s deep desire to just walk in the joy of the Lord, and I know that is wrapped up in joyfully giving thanks always for all things to a God who is faithful to work all things for my good, and His glory.

The Invitation

I submit that God’s love is relentless. His tenderness toward us is relentless. In response, our faith and our expression of faith through thanksgiving should be relentless. The result will be a relentless joy. God's love, relentless. God's tenderness, relentless. Our response - relentless faith and thanksgiving. The result,… Click To Tweet

So, I invite you to walk with me on this journey. Learn with me. Grow with me. And, while we’re at it, you can help me develop my blog and my book into something relevant, meaningful, and helpful – especially helpful.

A Jewel from My Journal


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A Jewel from My Journal

Back in ancient times, when personal computers were little more than a gleam in the eyes of men like Steve Jobs & Bill Gates, people didn’t blog. There was no web to log your thoughts on. You actually had to use paper and pen.

surprise

I know! Right? I can almost hear your collective audible gasps!

I was reading back through one of the volumes of my spiritual journal, mainly to verify exactly what year I originally wrote the manuscript for my book, and I found a number of entries of lessons learned and prayers answered that I had forgotten about. (Hmm. Must be why I kept a journal.) Here’s an example. The church we were attending, AnchorChurch in Ft. Worth, had a prayer ministry. Because I traveled during the week, and did not want to take time from my family when I was home on weekends, I took a turn praying from 3:00-6:00 on Sunday mornings. I spent the first 2 hours praying in the prayer room over the prayer requests, and the third hour walking and praying in the auditorium for the church and the services later that day.

On Sunday, 12/2, as I was praying in the AnchorChurch meeting place, I found myself praying in the center of the platform, that from that very spot, healing would go forth.  That something would happen, and from right there, life and healing would go out to the whole body of AnchorChurch.

That morning, the pastor, Tim Taylor, stood before the church and in brokenness confessed his need of us.  He then sat down right where I had stood earlier, in order for people to gather around him and pray over him.  As he was prayed over, the father of one of our worship leaders, who was visiting that Sunday, said that during the praise time he had sensed in Anchor a “spirit of rejection,” and invited all who were dealing with that to come forward.  Almost all who were there did.  And the healing began.

It was not because I had prayed, per se, but because it was His will!  Because it was His will, He put it in my heart to pray for it.  If we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, we know we have what we request of Him (1 John 4:14-15).  Because it was His will, He chose to do it, and put it in my heart to pray it and open the door for Him to work it.  He is at work, both to will and to work for His good pleasure! (Philippians 2:13).

Share a time when God put something on your heart to pray about, and then proved it by answering. Feel free to share any answered prayers.

Sometimes God inspires us to pray for something, then provides it. He wills, and He works. Click To Tweet

Prayer Map – Interceding with Psalm 107

“Father, she is dwelling in darkness and in the shadow of death – so surrounded by this temporal, dying world and the lies of the enemy that she cannot see. As a result, she’s a prisoner in misery and chains – bound by lies, confusion, hurt, sadness, and a lot of anger. It’s mostly the result of rebelling against Your words and having spurned Your counsel. From there, You have allowed her heart to be humble with labor – struggle, strife, and wearisome effort. And all her best efforts don’t bring her the peace and comfort for which she longs. She stumbled under the load, and there was none to help. Her friends are all pretty much in the same condition. They can “feel your pain,” offer some companionship, but no real help.

So, Lord, grant her the desperation and the grace, the insight and the courage, to cry out to You in her trouble, for You have declared that You are a rewarder of those who seek You – so I know that when she calls out to You and seeks You as her answer, You will be found – You will reward her search.  Abba, she will find that You have saved her out of her distress. Bring her out of darkness and the shadow of death. Break her bands apart.

Give her vision to see Your lovingkindness, and let her give thanks to You for it, and for all Your wonders to the sons of men! Let her see that You have shattered gates of bronze and cut asunder bars of iron, not only freeing her from her prison, but also destroying the defenses of the enemy so that she might run through the territory that the enemy has sought to claim and in victory reclaim it in You, in Your power and strength, and to the praise of the glory of Your grace.” – based on Psalm 107:10-16

Psalm 107 is an incredible road map for intercession. In about 5 paragraphs dealing with a variety of crises, David shows how those situations ensnare us, bring us to the point of seeing our need and spiritual emptiness, and crying out to God for help. He declares the faithfulness of God to deliver those who cry out to Him and urges them to give thanks for God’s faithful deliverance.

Paul understood the concept and the extreme value of giving thanks, pointing out in Romans 1 that it was a lack of thankfulness that contributed to men become foolish in their speculations, harden their hearts and become wise fools embracing their own explanations of the nature of the world and worshiping creation instead of the creator.

I have been through enough in my lifetime to know with certainty that God uses our life situations to help us learn to let go of the temporal and embrace the Eternal. And I have found that giving thanks is perhaps the ultimate expression of trusting that God is faithfully working in my life, using each situation.

Giving thanks is perhaps the ultimate expression of trusting that God is faithfully working in every… Click To Tweet

Is there someone for whom you are interceding? Maybe there is someone for whom you want to pray, but are not sure how? Take a look at Psalm 107. Maybe you’ll find the words to pray, right in God’s own written word.

Sheep in the House

I’ve been considering God’s presence and His house, in part because of several songs which have that theme, including 3 or 4 based on Psalm 84. Recently, as I was singing some of these songs on a Sunday morning, Psalm 23 came to mind. At first, I didn’t get the connection:  on the one hand “house of the Lord,” on the other hand “pasture.”  Apparently, David the Shepherd got it.

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want [or lack];
He makes me lie down [content, well fed, secure] in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters [safe, peaceful, refreshing],
He restores my soul [which has been damaged and in need of restoring],
He guides me in paths of righteousness [for I won’t find righteousness in my own ways, strengths, or doing]
For His Name’s sake [and since it is for His glory we can be sure He will not fail],
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death [because of this we make this Psalm a funeral psalm, but it’s really a life psalm],
I will fear no evil, for You are with me [all day, everyday, always we are in His presence; He never leaves or forsakes us anywhere, anytime, no matter how the evil of this dead/dying world surrounds us],
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me [our Shepherd has a rod of iron to ward off our enemies]
You prepare a table [living water and living bread; the Living Word] in the presence of my enemies [in the world, not of it; eternal, not temporal; spiritual]
You have anointed my head with oil [oil of healing, oil of power, the indwelling Holy Spirit];
My cup overflows [abundance; grace lavished upon us]
Surely goodness and mercy [lovingkindness] will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

So, I guess that would be considered a mixed metaphor. Sheep dwell in a pasture. People dwell in a house. God has chosen to indwell His people.

“….Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). “Christ was faithful as a Son over His house – whose house we are….” (Hebrews 3:6). David knew that whether you compare us to sheep in a pasture, worshipers in the temple, or people in a house, we have a God who cares for us, provides for us, watches over us, and invites us into His presence.

“How Lovely Your Dwelling Place” by Tommy Walker – Maranatha Praise Band “Pure Joy” on YouTube.

Thankful for a Voice


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Thankful for a Voice

My good friend, Dennis Jernigan, is a psalmist. He writes praise and worship songs. He prefers to think of himself as a song receiver. And that seems accurate – his songs are from the Lord, and they touch hearts and lives and are meaningful songs of worship not just for Dennis but for others as well. As a worship leader, Dennis mainly seems to just sing from his heart and worship the Lord. He doesn’t direct or control the worship experience, he just worships and invites you to do the same. He embraces the Father and it’s easy to join him in song and do the same.

DJ-1

Trish and I went to a “Night of Praise” led by Dennis this past Friday night in Oklahoma City. This, by the way, is a monthly event. You can see the schedule for these and other events dennisjernigan.com. The next three will be at Emmaus Baptist Church in south Oklahoma City.

My voice is weaker than it was before I had cancer. It is not as resonant as it once was. It tires more easily. I don’t have the same range I used to. It feels strained with prolonged use, especially if I sing loud or shout. There were several times Friday evening I just wanted to shout out praises to God. We have attended churches in the past where that was totally acceptable behavior. And, it is at Dennis’ Nights of Praise. However, since my bout with cancer six years ago, shouting does not work well for me. My voice is weaker than it was before. Mainly as a side affect of seven weeks of radiation, the tissues and muscles in my throat lack the elasticity they used to have. A shout usually comes out okay, a little less volume, and a little less resonance, but then it kind of catches and my throat feels almost shredded and abused and it takes a minute or two to recover.

You know what? I have a voice. I had throat cancer, and I have a voice. I can still sing praises to my Lord. I can still worship. I can talk. I can pray. I can talk to my family, my wife, my friends. I not only survived cancer, I came through throat cancer still able to talk and sing and pray. Satan was not allowed to silence me. I am blessed.

Father God, thank You for healing. It is not about me, or how well I sing, or how pretty my voice is, or even whether or not I can shout (much less how loud). It is about You! I do not have to yield in silence while creation praises God. I can join in and honor You with my praises. Lord, I humbly thank you. I joyfully thank you. I enthusiastically thank you!

The Monster Called Mundane

It’s been a tough couple of weeks in the “for all things” category. Have you ever found things not going your way at work? Have you been mistreated by your employer and/or your customers? Lied to? Overworked?

I could go into the details, but I’m afraid it would come across as just complaining, and would feed back into my own frustrations. On the other hand, it might show anyone reading this that we share some common ground. Suffice it for now to say, it has been a miserable couple of weeks with a lot of challenges. And, frankly, I have not met all those things with “giving thanks for all things.”

This morning, I finally got up and spent a little time with the Lord, singing and worshiping. Then I sat down and opened my Bible, and said, “Lord, I’ve read the book. Where do I need to read today.” I looked down at Psalm 52. David was running from Saul and his hiding place was given away by Doeg the Edomite. David wrote the Psalm to say, “You think you are so cool and that you are getting away with doing evil, but it is going to catch up with you someday.” Then he ends it with:

“I trust in the lovingkindness of God forever and ever,
I will give You thanks forever, because You have done it,
And I will wait on Your name, for it is good, in the presence of Your godly ones.”

David was still hiding out from Saul. He was still betrayed. He was still in danger. Yet He remembered that God loved Him and cared for Him. God is faithful. God is trustworthy. We can wait on Him, and know He will come through for us, when no one else will. We can give Him thanks forever, because He is a God who “does.”

I realized that all the stuff that was so frustrating to me, that was stealing my joy and making me miserable, was just the mundane, everyday stuff of life. It is all temporal, and only matters as I allow it to interfere with my walk with the Lord, or as I allow the Lord to use it to draw me to Him.

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We can give Him thanks even before we see the a way out, because we know He is faithful. Click To Tweet