Monday, November 30, 2009


When was the last time you spent time with God in prayer? When was the last time you got away and had some 'me' time-just you and God? I only ask because I think it's important that we pray. Mike Yaconelli thought it curious when he realized that we could actually pray without ceasing. Curious indeed as it is hard to imagine praying continuously throughout the day...unless of course you don't take it too literal-as in, talking to yourself out loud. Perhaps we can achieve it in all that we say and do in our daily lives. Change comes from within and that what is within us is shown to others in our interactions, word, and deed.
If that were so, then I guess that would mean that we would actively live out the gospel and show no fear when it comes to colleagues or peers at school or work. We would have the confidence to approach someone in need when words aren't there (perhaps all they really need is someone to cry with or listen to them).
This of course, leads me to this scripture found in James 5:16 'Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.'
Now, in my previous blog I mentioned the freedom that God offers us and in reading James I find that I'm not righteous by any means. It's not that God hasn't blessed me, it's just that my frustrations from time to time could be of my own doing (which I alluded to in my previous blog). I've been kicking it around and I've come to realize that I don't pray nearly as much as I should. Oh I pray everyday, but I don't pray as long as I could and should...nor do I pray with the intent/reverence I should. It's easy to go through the motions when it comes to prayer, but prayer should be about humbling oneself and coming to God knowing there's nothing we could offer that would improve our chances of blessings (it's a gift) and that we shouldn't get bent out of shape when things don't go our way. Perhaps God wants us to remain 'stuck' until we learn what has already been revealed to us.
Forgive my randomness...I just thought I should share that God offers more than just freedom from our burdens, but power in the many blessings he gives us day to day-we just need to be truly grateful for that which we take for granted.

Friday, November 20, 2009


Earlier this month I had the privilege of attending one of Princeton Seminary's Certification Retreat and Forum in Hendersonville, NC (Kanuga Retreat Center). This was an amazing week filled with humbling insight and confirmation concerning that which I had been struggling with.
In Jeremiah 29 we read of God's people struggling with a situation...they were stuck. To be more precise: they were exiled into captivity and under Babylonian control. Ironically, this year's theme for the youth group is Jeremiah 29:11-13 and it's usually used like a 'Hallmark' greeting card...sounds good, so we use it, but in it's's something hard to swallow.
Did you know that there are two ways to read the Bible? Traditionally it's either: literally or allegorically. However, I will refer to Francis Chan's definition: Exegesis is an attempt to discover the meaning of the text objectively, starting with the text and moving out form there. Eisegesis imports a subjective, preconceived meaning into the text.
I think we have a nasty tendency to 'import' our own 'preconceived' meaning into the scripture we read. While that's not exactly a bad thing, I do think it's a major contributor to twisted misinterpretations of what it was truly meant to say to us. Personally, I think it's best if we take a look at scripture from both perspectives-after reading a particular text or portion of scripture (if you don't know the reason for it or don't understand it, do some research-get yourself a Study Bible) and then ask yourself questions like: 'what struck me about what I just read?' or 'what does it have to do with me?' or 'what is it that God is trying to reveal to me through His Word?'
See, you and I get stuck and we tend to look for answers in all the wrong places from all the wrong people. Pride tends to get in the way of truth and sometimes we don't like what we hear. Which really leaves us with two options: pursue the truth or give up because it's too complicated, time consuming, or requires too much sacrifice.
If you were to read on in chapter 29 you'd find out that God warns the Israelites not to listen to or buy into 'false hope'. He tells them to get used to their situation because it's where they need to be (for 70 years) for all their short comings (sins). When we sin...we find ourselves in a 'stuck' situation. Until we either come clean and seek forgiveness or give up we won't find peace or happiness. And it won't be because God's denies us, but because we deny ourselves of the freedom He offers.
Again, there are two ways to read scripture, but there's two ways to 'read' a situation's my fault or it's someone else. We either take responsibility or we place blame upon those who we deem are at fault for our own shortcomings.
So the question becomes: are you stuck? If so, why are you stuck? And if you know that you're stuck and the reason for your stuckness...then what are you doing about it? Read carefully Jeremiah 29:11-13 because I think there's something we can all learn here-the honest truth: we have failed to follow God with our whole heart.
My challenge to you is to continue the seek Him when it's inconvienent and hard. To do what it takes to find peace and happiness. Now, it may mean making some sacrifices, but didn't God make the ultimate sacrifice? Remember, 'for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also'.