Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Only Way to Get There is to Go There

Self examination and difficult conversations are hard.  That's why so few are willing to "go there."  It's painful.

"Going there" means humbling yourself enough to face the truth, regardless of how uncomfortable it may be.

"Going there" is mustering up the courage to say what needs to be said, even if the other person may not react well to it.

"Going there" means caring enough to confront, but often feels uncaring.

"Going there" takes the risk that things will never be the same.

"Going there" forces you to face your fears.

"Going there" reveals your secrets.

"Going there" requires looking beneath the actions to the underlying cause.

"Going there" shows your shadow self.

"Going there" is nerve wracking and gut-wrenching.

"Going there" means seeing or hearing things you would rather ignore.

"Going there" may make you feel defensive.

"Going there" may make you feel vulnerable.

"Going there" may make you feel under attack

But. . . 

"Going there" leads to beautiful breakthroughs.

"Going there" transforms relationships.

"Going there" increases mutual understanding.

"Going there" helps you get unstuck.

"Going there" reveals truth that will set you free.

"Going there" brings boldness you'll never discover by avoiding.

"Going there" is the first, courageous step towards healing.

Consider the improvements you desire in your life and relationships.  The only way to "get there" is to "go there."

Friday, January 22, 2016

Six Steps to the Throne

Here is a helpful guide for prayer,  inspired by a chapter from In The Day of Thy Power, by Arthur Wallis:  Six Steps to the Throne.

In 2 Chronicles 9:18 we read that there were six steps to the throne of King Solomon.  And in our prayer life, there are six steps to the throne of God:  The King of Kings.

Step 1:  Abiding in Christ
John 15:5-7 
I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.

This means being connected to Christ -- living in Christ - being at home with him.  There is a huge difference between saying prayers and being a person of prayer.

Two ways we become disconnected:  Disobedience (Ps, 66:18) and Neglect.  Is Jesus your spare tire or your steering wheel?

Step 2: In the Will of God
1 John 5:14-15
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.

Bobby Richardson, baseball great, once prayed, "Dear God, your will.   Nothing more.  Nothing less. Nothing else."

Will of God should not be used to excuse our doubt and unbelief.  It is a great statement of faith!
How do we discern God's will?
A.  Scripture -- God's Word is always His will.
B.  Leading of the Holy Spirit - If we ask, He will show us.

Step 3: In Faith
Mark 11:22-24:
Have faith in God,” Jesus answered. “Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

Faith is bold confidence and quiet trust:  laying hold of God, and believing His promises.

Step 4:  In the Name of Jesus
John 14:13-14: 
 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

The name of Jesus is not a little tag or magic incantation at the end of a prayer.  It means praying in the authority of Jesus.  There is power in his name!

"Amen" doesn't end the prayer -- but shoots it out!  "So be it!"

Step 5:  In the Spirit
Jude 1:20-21: 
 But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

Wesley Duewel calls the Holy Spirit our indwelling prayer partner (Jesus is our enthroned prayer partner.)

The Holy Spirit draws us to prayer, energizes us, convicts us, brings a prayer burden (especially in emergencies), and provides vision for future direction.

Praying in the Spirit means praying in holy love.

Step 6:  In Unity
Matthew 18:19: 
Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.

Not in unison but in harmony with one another.  We may have differences, but our hearts are in harmony.

Disunity, resentment and unforgiveness hinder our prayers.  When we are united in love, our prayers have more power.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Listen, Then Do Something

If you've botched your New Year's resolutions already, maybe it would be helpful to take a different approach.  Instead of throwing in the towel and feeling guilty about how you didn't achieve your feeble intentions, why not select a focus -- a theme for the year and keep plugging on towards it?  This method gives guidance and direction, without the pressure of impending failure hanging over you head.  

If you are looking for theme, how about this one?   Listen and Do.  It is simple and sweet and will keep you going for the full 365 (actually 366 since this is Leap Year!)

1) Listen: 
You and I have been given two ears and one mouth. That’s because we’re supposed to listen twice as much as we speak. However, I've discovered that talking is easier than hearing.  Listening is far more difficult than explaining.

Why is it so hard to listen? Consider this. We speak at 100-150 words per minute. We are able to comprehend at 250-300 words per minute. We think at 600 words per minute.

So, if you are a fast thinker (600 wpm) and the other person is a slow talker (100 wpm), you still have 500 words per minute left over for thinking about other stuff. For efficient folks, that’s a lot of wasted communication space. Therefore,  fast listeners zones out, and end up thinking about things besides what the other person is saying.

When someone zones out, they respond like this: “uh, huh”, “Yes, dear”, “I don’t know” – all the while, filling up the empty communication space with other thoughts. True listening is hard work!

Declaring 2016 your Year of Listening, doesn't mean listening to the 100 words and then zoning out. Instead, it means listening to the 100 words – really hearing those words – processing them– seeking to understand the depth of those words – thinking about them words – mulling them over!

As Margaret Wheatley said, “Listening is such a simple act. It requires us to be present, and that takes practice, but we don’t have to do anything else. We don’t have to advise, or coach, or sound wise. We just have to be willing to sit there and listen."

Listening means hearing the whole thing without creating a rebuttal while the other person is still talking. It means not cutting people off mid-sentence because you already know what they’re going to say. It means, in the words of Steven Covey, “Seeking to understand before seeking to be understood.”

The best kind of prayer, by the way, is listening prayer, seeking to hear to God’s voice to discern his wisdom. The Bible says, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

2) Do:

But we can't just stop with listening.   We need to do something about what we hear. We won’t make any progress if we let the communication flow in one ear and out the other.

Jesus said, “Therefore, everyone who hears my words and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (Matt. 7:24)

A lot of folks spend tons of time thinking and discussing, but don’t get around to doing anything about it. They spend too much energy “chewing the fat” and not enough “burning it.” It it is far better to be a doer than a hearer only (James 1:22.) I believe in a practical faith. That is, a faith that you can put into practice every day. It’s action oriented!

Life is about action. What we do is more important than what we say or think. Annie Dillard said, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” It’s better to attempt something and fail than to attempt nothing and succeed.

A friend once told me that Divine guidance is like a rudder on a boat. If the boat is tied to the dock, the rudder is not much help. Unleash the boat, however, and set sail – then the rudder does its work! You have to be moving in order for the rudder to operate! You might even start by moving in the wrong direction, but the rudder will guide and correct your course. If you want to discover your destiny, you need to hoist anchor and set sail. In other words -- do something!