Coattail Riders – A Devotional Thought

The Crucified Life

I’m reading “The Crucified Life” by AW Tozer. Usually one chapter a day is enough to keep me pondering the whole day. I’m a driven person. Accomplishing, creating, building large and effective churches are a passion for me. Sometimes though, my motives get skewed along the way. Just like a yearly checkup from the family doctor, I think it’s important to have regular checkups on ones own motives. God has continually used Tozer as His testing tool in my life.
The Coattail Riders
Are you a coattail rider?  Tozer describes these as Christians who choose ministry for the wrong reasons. But more than ministry,this applies to everyone. These are people that value earthly gain over heavenly gain. They desire…
  • a following
  • to become well known
  • to get a reputation
“This is not for those who are living the crucified life. Those who walk and live the crucified life have no desire for these things and are willing to lose their reputations if they must in order to get on with God and go on to perfection. They seek no place, no wealth, no thing. Those who long after God will not turn their heads to be elected anywhere to anything. Only static Christians seek after high ecclesiastical positions. They want to be somebody before they die.” 
AW. Tozer
I don’t want to ever be a static Christian. I want to be a follower on the move with Christ as He forms and moulds me for His purpose and His good will. This does mean taking up your cross and living a crucified life.
The Crucified Life of God Seekers
“Those living the crucified life do not seek place or wealth, fame or high positions. Rather, they want to know God and to be where Jesus is. Only to know Christ-that is all.” ~ AW Tozer

Paul speaks to this in the New Testament when he says, “What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ” (Phil. 3:8) I love what Eugene Petersen says in the Message

The Message Philippians 3: 7-9 The very credentials these people are waving around as something special, I’m tearing up and throwing out with the trash—along with everything else I used to take credit for. And why? Because of Christ. Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant—dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness.

In closing I have paraphrased some of Tozer’s comments.
  • When you do not have anything real inside of you, you try to get something on the outside that looks real; which you believe will provide meaning.
  • Do you need more of Christ within you? Is there still something that you must give Him so that He has full control and ownership of your life?
  • It is not a matter of how far you have already come, but are you ready to swim further?
  • It is not that you are perfect but that you thirst after perfection.
  • Is your religion only social? Are you satisfied with the once-on-Sunday and done sort of religion?
  • Are you standing still or becoming more like your Lord Jesus Christ
What I really want to know is which one describes you today…Are you living a crucified life?

Freak Out Much? How To Respond

Stop freaking Out

Definition:

Freak Out = A person who is “freaking out” over something seeming inconsequential

Do you ever feel that way about some people? Sometimes I imagine these people with a bomb strapped to them. They are fully armed and ready to explode.  Other times the countdown timer is already at zero and they are exploding.

There is only one problem. The outburst doesn’t seem warranted. It wasn’t that big of a deal.  The reaction was way out of proportion to the situation. Have you ever done that or noticed that type of response in others?  When this happens, it’s important to remember that there is likely more going on.  There is usually a deeper issue that is causing the heightened level of response. Here are some common responses we face and how we should respond.

Common Responses to “The Freak Out”
  • We offer a quick comforting word to distract them and to avoid a deeper conversation.
  • We find the nearest exit and  get out of there
  • We avoid them in the future. (No one wants to be around a ticking time bomb, right?)
The Right Response

I believe, as Christians, we are called to intervene.

Instead of avoiding them, intervene for them.

Why? It’s the example we follow in Jesus. He was the one who intervened for us. Now when we choose to follow Him, mysteriously, Christ lives in us and we get to make a difference and intervene with Him for others. The only problem is that it takes some kind of sacrifice on our part… time, vulnerability, follow-up, etc….yup, there’s the Jesus connection again. Here is one of the simplest ways I know to respond to the “freak out.” Ask them if you can pray with them to see what else may be going on.  Here are 3 simple steps.

  • Acknowledge the freak out. “Hey I noticed you were upset about_______.”
  • Pray About It. “Could I pray with you about that right now?”
  • Ask If There is Something Else. “When we pray could we also ask God if there is something else that may be causing stress for you?” Listen to God on their behalf and see what He may say.

The third step is an important step and often missed. Have you ever noticed it’s easier to hear for someone else than it is to hear for yourself.  I believe this is a blessing that comes from Christian community. A blessing from God.  God uses us to encourage each other and to speak His truth to each other. I believe He enjoys speaking through us to others.  (One quick disclaimer: Always take any advice/feedback to Scripture. God won’t contradict Himself)

My Response

I want to be a part of the solution. My natural tendency is to avoid people when they are freaking out for a reason that doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t understand why they are freaking out, that frustrates me, so I avoid them.  Instead of avoiding I am choosing to start intervening for them. I will choose to try to listen with them to see what God might be saying. Perhaps, just perhaps, He allowed me to be present  during the freak out because He wanted to use me in that situation.

No one wants to have a freak out moment, but we all do.  Just think, would you rather have your freak out moment in proximity to someone who will help you process through it, or with someone who will choose to avoid you in the future? Even though it’s embarrassing I would want someone to intervene and help me through it. I want to be that person for others.  Even more, I want to continue to follow Christ’s example…to consider others.

 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus

Phil 2:1-5

Be a difference maker,

dh

Stop Helping Everyone

Stop Helping Everyone

 If you can help your neighbor now, don’t say, “Come back tomorrow, and then I’ll help you.”

~ Proverbs 3:28

In my bible reading recently, Proverbs 3:28 stuck out to me.  I actually wrote it down in my journal to reflect on later. Today is “later.” When re-reading it  I was reminded of a principle I first heard Andy Stanley mention, “Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone. ”The reality is we don’t help “everyone.” Obviously the title of this post is misleading…but the point is this.

You can’t help everyone, but you can help one.”

Coach John Wooden was famous for saying, “Make everyday your masterpiece.” That statement was actually the sixth principle of seven that his father gave him to live by. I think one of the reasons it was the sixth was because to truly live a masterpiece each and everyday you had to fulfill the first  five steps. Step 2 was to “Help Others.” And Coach’s definition of helping others was this.

“You cannot have a perfect day without helping others with no thought of getting something in return. . . .”

I’m not sure what the perfect definition of helping others is, but I do know this. Jesus, the ultimate servant and example, reminds us to “Love others as He has loved us.” John 15:12. Unselfishly serving others is supposed to be a way of life. Unfortunately  too often, I am the one that is served and not the one serving. I needed this reminder today. Perhaps you did too?  Today, let’s do something for at least “one” person.

I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; I will not refuse to do something I can do.
― Helen Keller (Tweet This)

3 Simple Steps When Facing Unanswered Prayer

I was reading today and found myself thinking about these 3 simple steps we can take when facing unanswered prayer. Of course this is not thorough, but true nonetheless.  I wrote a more comprehensive list here on the “15 Reasons Why God Might Not Be Answering Your Prayer” (Tweet This)  However, before you read the long list, here are three quick thoughts on unanswered prayer.

  1. You’re asking the wrong question. Ask a new question.
  2. He wants to talk. Stop and listen. He might want to change the topic and talk about something totally different.
  3. Ask Him first what he wants to do with your time together.  Perhaps He just wants to be with you and bring the peace and comfort that can only come by being in His presence

What have you noticed in your prayer life? Does God often change topics? Does He answer quickly? Does He like for you to be quiet?  Let me know.

What 100,000 Domino’s Teach Us About Prayer

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The Story

Bob Specas is about to break the world record for domino toppling.  Its June 9, 1979 and Bob is just a few thousand dominoes away from setting up 100,000 to claim the world record title.  It’s such a big deal that the media has gathered to watch and broadcast this historic event.  Just as Bib was placing one of the few remaining dominoes, on the other side of the room, a careless cameraman dropped his press badge and the room went silent as everyone heard the hiss of dominoes toppling when none should have been.

Can You Relate?

Does your prayer life sometimes feel like that moment back on June 9, 1979.  You work so ard, pray so hard, diligently, consistently, only to wait, watch the exact opposite result happen right in front of your eyes.  Or even worse, you don’t see anything happen…nothing ever happens and you think it never will.  Prayer, as Pete Greig says, is kind of like domino toppling.

“..some prayers get answered the very first time you ask, most take months or even years of faithful asking before you see any breakthrough. Day after day, you say essentially the same thing..and one day, in a matter of minutes it triggers the fulfillment of years of prayer.”

What Does The Bible Say

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” ~ Romans 12:12

Jesus taught his disciples to be persistent in prayer by sharing the parable of the persistent widow in Luke 18.  I think that parable is even more important to us today.  We live in such a fast paced world that craves and expects instant gratification. I know I do. Don’t you?  There is a story about D.L. Moody carrying a list of names of people he was praying for to choose Jesus Christ as their saviour. The story goes, that almost all had accepted Christ prior to his death…but not all.  BUT, at his funeral the remaining names on the list (4 of them) chose to place their confidence in Christ.

It’s Not Your Time Table That Matters

I admit it, I’m often more concerned with God meeting my expectations and my timeline than being concerned about meeting His. I recently read about a make-believe scenario. Imagine an angel just told you that your next prayer would be answered by God.  Would you pray? Of course you would. Imagine that same angel told you that your 365th prayer was going to be answered. Would you pray 365 times.  Of course. The problem is not that we don’t know how many times we need to pray before God answers….the problem is we are disobeying him by giving up on prayer.  Jesus Himself tells us not to give up. He will bring justice. (Luke 18)

One of my goals during this time of reflection has been to place more and more priority on finding contentment just by being in His presence. Some days its way more difficult than others. I think I’m slowly learning.

By preserving in prayer we prove that we are willing to wait faithfully and to surrender consistently to the priorities of Christ in our lives ~ Pete Greig

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” ~ Romans 12:12

PS

Bob Specas was able to intervene the cameraman’s mishap. He was able to stop all the domino’s from falling. He was still able to break the world record later that day.

[Image via Louish Pixel | flickr.com]

90% Choose Answered Prayer Over Time With Jesus

News Headline

This could have been the headline 2000 years ago…

The Story In A Nutshell

The story goes that there were 10 very, very sick men. They were outcasts, not allowed to live in proximity to other, healthy, people. They heard about a person who had a reputation as a healer. Some actually said he was the son of God. They heard that he was travelling between cities and so they took their chance and found a spot he would have to pass by. Pass he did, and they screamed and yelled as loud as they could to get his attention.  Witnesses say that this man, called Jesus, stopped and immediately turned to them. Witnesses say it was an amazing moment. You see the men were lepers, highly contagious… the worst of society. In the same moment that Jesus stepped towards them, everyone else stepped back, wanting to add distance between themselves and the lepers.  Jesus told them to go to the temple (which they were not suppose to do), but when your life is hanging in the balance, a person will do almost anything to find help.  They went and were healed.  It seems that this Jesus, is indeed a healer, and almost everyone is starting to believe that this man, truly, is the Son of God. One man came back and thanked Jesus and spent time with Him.

Luke 17:11-18

The Real Story

What I find so interesting in this story is not the miracle of 10 lepers being miraculously healed. Granted, that is some miracle, and I’m sure it was the talk of the town! But I don’t think that’s the real story. The part that has convicted me personally, is that only one of the ten came back to thank Jesus and spend time with Him. And, of all people, it was a Samaritan, a historic enemy of the Jews (that’s for another post.) All ten man had a very real need. Some of them had likely prayed for healing for years. Had begged God to reveal Himself in their bodies.  They prayed all this as they watched limbs and flesh fall off their bodies. They were desperate for an encounter with God…or were they?  This story highlights how our priorities influence our prayers.

I love this insight from Pete Greig.

“All ten men were equally healed, yet only one truly worshipped. The other nine considered their answered prayer more thrilling than the presence of the Answerer. They took their healing gladly, but they missed the greatest miracle of all: The presence of God!”

The Application

You see, the lepers prayer for healing was a legitimate prayer.  God is a God that heals. However, beyond healings and miracles, God desires a relationship with you. Do you desire the same? Nine of the ten missed a divine moment to spend time with the son of God. They were more concerned with themselves than the one that created them.  The miracle is they all received a great gift… the gift of healing. However, only one of them experienced the life changing encounter of His presence.

Are you more concerned with being in His presence or getting a one time present?

Who Are You In The Story?

I know I’m often one of the nine. He’s teaching me that He does have so many good gifts, miracles to give.  However, there is always one gift, His presence, that far outshines everything else.    Here’s an even harder question. If God would only answer one request… (He love sto answer prayer, but work with me here) …More of His presence or answer that big prayer request. Which would you choose? Good motives/priorities check, isn’t it. 🙂  I’m so thankful He is patient with me.

[Image via StuartMiles | freedigitalphotos.net]

15 Reasons Why God Isn’t Answering Your Prayer

Time For Miracle

Trying to make sense of unanswered prayer is rarely simple and always complex.And the reality is, we may never receive an answer to our “why” until heaven comes. Being a pastor, I’ve often been asked to explain unanswered prayer. This is one of the resources I often share with people.Continue Reading

How I Finally Developed a Consistent “Quiet Time” With God

If you’ve grown up in church, or have just started attending, you will hear people start talking about the important of reading your Bible. Everyone seems to use a different word  or phrase to define it.

“Quiet time, devotions, devotional time, bible study, God time, etc, etc”

Here’s my problem I wanted someone to define what this habit or discipline should look like. Simply tell me the “right” way to spend some time with God. I never knew why this was such a source of guilt and frustration for me. The fact that I was experiencing those feelings made me think all the more that I was doing something wrong. I was reminded about all this recently when someone asked me what my bible study/ personal time with God looked like. It’s not profound, or anything out of the ordinary, but perhaps my process of finding a “rhythm” that worked for me may help someone else.Continue Reading

Do you consistently read your Bible? – I really want to know.

I had someone recently ask me what my bible study or devotional habits were. They were curious what I did, how often, was I consistent, etc,etc.

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I Often Find Prayer Boring

Now, before everyone gets frustrated or upset with my title, let me just say upfront I fully believe and know that:

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