10/26/09

2 Questions for Examining Our Affection for Christ

Light Bulb of Thought 200x300 2 Questions for Examining Our Affection for ChristThere is no better way to assure a quality answer than to ask a quality question.

Asking careful, introspective questions is a key for anyone does not want to squander life with aimless wandering.

We seldom choose to waste our life. We simply cease evaluating our thoughts, words, actions, deeds, motives, habits, desires, and goals.

As the saying goes, “Only one life, ‘twil soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”

If living for Christ is the only way to avoid a wasted life, we need a couple questions to use as heart-checks.

Two Best Questions of the Month
The two best questions I heard this month both ring with affection for Chris and stir up  oft-neglected introspection.

1. What is it that I want most when I am not craving Christ?

Al Hartman rocked my comfortable boat when he shared that question with me over the phone.

The question is tinted by an awareness of failure, yet it also is asked in hope, knowing change is more than possible. Sanctification is, in fact, inevitable for the Christian.

Behind the question is also an all-out passion to treasure Christ. It’s the kind of driving force that moves like a surge of water released from a dam, rushing to demolish anything that stands in the way.

It’s a surge that is only released by the Holy Spirit into a heart transformed by truth.

2. What things affect my affection for Christ most?

This question is derived from a short interview of Matt Chandler. He humbly explained his struggle to find activities that set his passion for Christ on fire.  And to eliminate the activities that snuff it out or damped passion for Christ.

“I’m trying to always be aware of what’s going on in my mind and in my heart, and what really stirs up my mind and heart towards Him [Christ], and what doesn’t.”

Now Answer
Carefully answer the questions, and couple them with prayer.

Remember, there’s no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. But there is honest confession, gracious forgiveness, and powerful transformation.

What’s the best question that you’ve answered this month? What questions do you use to evaluate your heart before the throne of grace?



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10/12/09

3 Ways to Cultivate Continual Communion with God

iStock 000002930325XSmallB 300x196 3 Ways to Cultivate Continual Communion with GodBy the end of the day, the the morning quiet time is all but forgotten. The spirit of worship and prayer has faded to a dot in the rear-view mirror.

But that is not what we long for.

Our souls crave continual communion with God that does not end when we close our Bible. We want to feel an intimacy that does not diminish during the day.

3 ways to cultivate continual communion with God

1. Take the quiet time off the to-do list
We must break the habit of treating the quiet time as a distinct event that we can check off.

This mindset shatters communion as soon as we complete our allotted 20 minutes with God. We may walk away from the quiet time refreshed, but we do not walk away connected.

Take the quiet time off the to-do list, and in a sense, put it on the to-be list. We don’t want to do communion with God as an event, we want to be in communion with God as a lifestyle.

2. Find ways to keep the Word open all day
David models this point like none other (Psalm 1:2, 63:1-8, 119:15). David also was a man after God’s own heart, like few others (1 Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22). We need to take the hint.

We commune with God best in His Word. No surprise there, because the Word is His direct word to us. It’s more than a newspaper, it is a personal, intimate word. 

Constant meditation on the Word is a rich feeding for the soul. If we let the Word of God dwell richly in us through the day, it will draw us into continual communion. We can savor the God of the Word all day by tasting the Word of God all day.

Two ways I have found to do this:

First, memorize a verse from the quiet time that can be used for either soul-feeding or sin-fighting (or both).

Second, write a verse on a note card and pocket it.

Either option is beneficial. Both are easy and effective. Sometimes I have found my pocket more sure than my memory, so I use a mix of both approaches (coincidentally, reading a note card all day often locks it into memory).

A beautiful side effect of keeping the Word open all day: It is combustible tinder for a ceaseless prayer life.

3. Go back for another drink
Only recently have I come to appreciate the value of the model in Daniel 6:10. We often feel drained during the day. Sin is creeping in. We’re wearing down. Things start to fall apart…

The note card may not be enough.

Why not go back before the Lord on our knees?

Using a blend of the three approaches is best. They all have a place. But in the end, I don’t really care what it takes to get close to God. The continual communion is what I am after. I just want to experience intimacy with God. I want you to as well.

What helps you cultivate continual communion during your day?



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09/23/09

Mistaking spiritual information for intimacy

iStock 000003584474XSmall 300x200 Mistaking spiritual information for intimacyYou could call me an information pack rat. As I flipped through the pages of my journal on Sunday, I found a rich bank of scribbled sermon notes, bedside thoughts, and devotional gleanings.

But there was something missing. The pale yellow pages told a story of a young man who substituted information for intimacy – and then starved.

The journal lacked the prayerful vitality that springs from communion with God. I marveled at God as if he was one of those fold-out pictures in a National Geographic, talking to myself in my journal about God, but not actually to God.

Information cannot feed the soul. Experiencing intimacy with God can.
There is an important distinction between information and intimacy. It’s like the difference between the boy daydreaming about the girl sitting two rows in front of him at school, and the lover walking hand-in-hand with his bride in the flower gardens. The schoolboy says an awkward hello. The lover gently tucks a flower in his bride’s hair.

Information is key to intimacy. Therefore, we study God’s Word. A rich knowledge of God’s character enables more intimate adoration and worship.

But information is not equivalent to intimacy anymore than hours of surfing Facebook is equivalent to personal relationships.

Because even the most vast reservoirs of information can not feed the soul, Psalm 63:1-8 has become my cry:

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.

My journaling is now taking on a new tone as the result of the Holy Spirit’s work over the last few months. What’s the tone of your quiet time, journaling, and prayer? How much intimacy do you really have with God?



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11/20/08

Break up your fallow ground


Sow for yourselves righteousness;

reap steadfast love;
break up your fallow ground,
for it is the time to seek the Lord,fallow ground Break up your fallow ground that he may come and rain righteousness upon you
- Hosea 10:12

For those who long to break away from apathy, the passage that AW Tozer expounds in the folloiwng except is a pround tonic. Hosea 10:12 is powerful.

plowing Break up your fallow ground
From AWTozer:
“As soon as we seek protection out of God, we find it to our own undoing. Let us build a safety-wall of endowments, by-laws, prestige, multiplied agencies for the delegation of our duties, and creeping paralysis sets in at once, a paralysis which can only end in death.
The power of God comes only where it is called out by the plow. It is released into the Church only when she is doing something that demands it, By the word “doing” I do not mean mere activity. The Church has plenty of “hustle” as it is, but in all her activities she is very careful to leave her fallow ground mostly untouched. She is careful to confine her hustling within the fear-marked boundaries of complete safety. That is why she is fruitless; she is safe, but fallow.
Look around today and see where the miracles of power are taking place. Never in the Seminary where each thought is prepared for the student, to be received painlessly and at second hand; never in the religious institution where tradition and habit have long ago made faith unnecessary; never in the old church where memorial tablets plastered over the furniture bear silent testimony to a glory that once was. Invariably where daring faith is struggling to advance against hopeless odds, there is God sending “help from the sanctuary.”

Please read the rest of this article. It will aid any of you who are fighting, as I am, against apathy and complaceny in life and want to be on fire.
Read here:
http://www.xenos.org/invest/plow.htm



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