Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Praying Within the Will of the Father

Ok, so I've been reading this great book by a guy named Darren Wilson called Filming God: A Journey from Skepticism to Faith. Darren has been making movies for a while that focus around making God more famous. Darren wants to find people who love radically and step out in faith to act on the radical love they see from God. He finds these people and follows them around, and as he puts it, "along with radical love comes radical events."

Anyway, these people are so aware of the Holy Spirit and of the voice of God. Some have had encounters with demons, some have heard the audible voice of God, some hear the audible voice of God everyday, some have seen angels, all of them have experienced healings and visions and the inaudible voice of God. They have all these crazy stories to tell, but the thing that stands out to me as the common denominator in everything is that these people pray. They pray without hindrance. They pray boldly. Mostly, they pray very very often.

Notably, prayer is two-fold.
Prayer is 1) Bringing your requests before God and 2) LISTENING. The people Darren talk to seem to do so much more than talk when they pray. They wait and they listen. It seems to me that the reason their prayers are so effective and produce healing and salvation and crazy stuff you couldn't even imagine is because they are doing everything within the will of the Father. They do everything within the will of the Father because they know the will of the Father. They know the will of the Father because they listen for it. And this takes time.

Jesus' prayers worked because he was perfectly obedient to the Father and perfectly united to His will. So Jesus didn't go around asking for healing when it was not a part of the Father's will. He submitted his prayer to the Father and so his prayers were always within the will of the Father.

Darren told a story about a man who he visited for filming. This man was lying on the couch one morning and finally came to eat breakfast at some point. Darren asked how his nap had been, and the man told Darren that he had been praying. Just laying there, praying while other people were doing other things in the next room he was praying for what I think Darren said was almost 30 minutes. Another time Darren was filming this same man waiting for him to go pray for some miracles, but instead he stood in the middle of the crowd for around an hour praying asking God where to go. Later that same day after a very unsuccessful day of filming when the team thought they were finally going to get some footage and everyone is staying to clear out and they are running out of time this same man prays with the team for 45 minutes, just waiting on God. He told a story about another man who spent multiple hours every morning in his laundry room praying.

These people spent serious time waiting on the Father and listening intently to find out what His will was. Since they spent so much time with God, they knew him intimately, and so could recognize His voice when they heard it, and could follow obediently into His will.

Friday, August 7, 2015

____ Things Only _____ People Will Understand

There are two huge trends in blogging recently. I know you've noticed this first one: "5 Things You Need To Do Before You Turn 30" or "24 Questions You Should Ask Before You Get Married" or maybe a silly one... "36 Things Only 90s Kids Will Understand." The second trend is a little less obvious. Someone will post a video and title is something like, "She Sees a Box on the Side of the Road and You'll Never Guess What Happens Next... I'm Amazed!" Or maybe, "His Mom is Super Mad, but You Will Never Believe What He Does Next!" Trying to hook you and leave you hanging for the ending. And almost every time the end of the video has been seriously oversold in the title.

The first trend is not so bad. I like the lists, and it makes a long blog easier to understand, but it does get excessive sometimes. The second trend annoys the crap out of me, but it gets me EVERY TIME!! I'm a sucker for a good video (especially a sweet or sad one... I cried during the last episode of Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Like seriously bawled... don't judge me), and I'm willing to watch a few stinkers to find a good one.

I want to make two points. I guess that would make this a list blog. I could have titled this, "2 Things That Won't Solve Your Problems or Bring You Life." This is becoming ironic...

1. There is no magic formula to life.
You can read as many lists as you want on how to be happy or how to have a good marriage or how to have a good job, but sometimes life is just hard. Sometimes I'm doing everything right. I'm working hard at my job, I'm caring about the people I love, I'm eating well, and I'm exercising and doing whatever else is good, but life just doesn't seem to be working. My students aren't listening and don't care, my friends and family and I just aren't getting along, and I feel lazy and tired and out of shape. The gears are just grinding and there is no movement. Another list isn't going to help me. In those moments when everything seems to be working against me, I have only one place to lean. On Jesus to heal my hurting wounds. On the Holy Spirit to soothe my aching heart. On my good good Father to dry my tired tears.

2. Sin will lure you in without warning you about the ending.
Sin is like those videos that have such an exciting looking title, but have an ending that doesn't satisfy the hype. Sin seems so great. It is fun and exciting. It feels good. And if I didn't know what it was like to be full of the life of Jesus, I would believe that the ending was about as good as I could get. Just like I sometimes find a good video in the midst of all the crappy ones, Jesus is good in the midst of all the crap. He is filling in the midst of all the emptiness. He is loving in the midst of all the hurt. He is a friend in the midst of all the enemies.

I don't mind lists (especially since I just made one), and I like an alluring title here and there, but life is only really lived in the presence of Jesus.

Don't miss this verse coming up. Jesus is talking here, which makes this kind of important! There is a differentiation between Jesus and a thief. Jesus is talking about the sheep having life. Anyone who believes in the truth of Jesus in the Bible represents the sheep.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I ( Jesus) have come that they (the sheep... us) may have life, and have it to the full. - John 10:10 

Parentheses and emphasis added by me.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

What If We Really Expected the Kingdom to Come?

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one for Yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever.

If you grew up in church, you probably skipped over that. (Caught you!) It's ok. I would have too. Maybe try reading it nice and slow.

There is so much crazy stuff packed into this, but I've been focused so heavily on one phrase recently.

Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 

The Message (which is translated phrase by phrase to communicate the tone of the text as it was intended) says this:

Reveal who you are. Set the world right; Do what’s best— as above, so below.

Jesus told us to pray and ask God to reveal Himself to us. He told us to ask God to make the world the same here as it is "above" in heaven.

Do we even know what we're saying when we pray that? We are asking that the Kingdom of God (real live Heaven) would come down and be as real here as it is in heaven. What would that look like?

I think it would look incredibly different from what we're seeing in churches right now. There would be so much more love. So much more joy. We would not look down on people because we would see that we are just as filthy as they are. We would know each other completely, and share every part of our lives with each other instead of putting on a show.

We would worship in truth by being honest in worship instead of following the crowd or the screen. We would worship in spirit by allowing the Holy Spirit to move our hearts and even move our bodies and hands and voices to sing and speak praises and prayers and to go to people to love them. We would be filled with love for the poor and needy. We would believe in real healing in impossible circumstances, and we would see it happen. We would believe in the absolute providence of God.

We would not worry. We would not gossip. We would not slander. We would love intensely. We would not stop church (which is so sorely mistaken for a building) just because the pastor dismissed us. We would want more and more of the Holy Spirit in every moment.

We would want our work lives to be filled with praises and joy and love and Jesus no differently than we want church to be filled with that. We would be bold about speaking the name of Jesus to people who don't necessarily know him because we care what Jesus thinks, not ANYONE else. We would pray for people boldly and we would pray alone boldly. We would long with an insatiable thirst for more glory to belong to our King.

I'm no theologian, and there is so much more to this. Heaven is more than we could ever think of or imagine. It's more than we can comprehend. It's not something our brains can contain. I want as much of it as I can get!

I challenge you and I'm challenging myself to start bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to earth everyday. Let's start by simply praying that it would come and we would have eyes to see it and a heart to welcome it especially when it's not what we expect it to be.