Dear God –

AndGodLa

I love this letter to God from a child –

“Dear God, I think about you sometimes even when I’m not praying.”

So simple, yet so overwhelmingly powerful.  But is it true for you?

How would your day be radically transformed if this statement was true for you?  So often, we only think about God:

1.  When we get ready for church
2.  When we are at church
3.  When we pray for a meal
4.  When we tell our child that God doesn’t like what he/she is doing
5.  When something good or bad happens
6.  When/if we pray, study the Bible

But how would it change your day if scattered throughout, you just stopped and thought about God’s love?  God’s grace?  God’s mercy?  God’s awesomeness?  God’s power?

There’s a difference between thinking about God and praying to God.  I think about my wife and my daughter often, but I’m not speaking to them.  I think about them because I love them so much, and they occupy my thoughts throughout the day.  Does God have that same impact on you?

Read this verse – and think about God.

The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. (Psalm 103:8-14)

 

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Personal Spiritual Growth: 30 Day Challenge

Here at the Granny White Church of Christ, we are going through a journey of personal spiritual growth. We began yesterday with an emphasis on getting to know God on a deeper, personal level.

The best way to grow a relationship with anyone is through a conversation, and that’s what we emphasized yesterday, is to have a conversation with God. I issued a 30 day challenge to the family of GW. Here are the details :

Find a time during the day when you can talk and listen to God.

Start by praying – saying hey to God, acknowledging Him as your creator, your Father, your Friend. Spend time thanking Him for all He has done and continues to do –

Then, grab a blank journal, and pray “God, I am here for You – Please show me who You are.”

Open up your Bible to the Psalms, one of the greatest places to really get to know who God is, and begin to read.

The goal is not massive marathon reading – but quality reading. You may just need one or two verses to stop and focus on –

But as you read – look for an attribute of God that really grabs you. You’re simply looking for something that’s true about God. A part of what He is. A part of His heart. One of His names.

Maybe you’ll learn more about His mercy, or His love, or His holiness.

Maybe you’ll learn more about how He wants to be Your Shepherd.

Or how He wants to protect you.

And when something really captures you – write it down in that notebook, and write the verse down as well.

And then I simply want you to think about that part of God’s character, and what it means to you.

And after you think about that for a while, write your thoughts back to God. Maybe its time for you to write a new Psalm to God. Or it could just be a random gathering of words and sentences directed from your heart to His.

Or maybe it reminds you of a song, from the Hymn book, or a devotional, or the radio – write the words to that down as well.

Whatever you do – make it personal. Make it intimate.

There’s no right or wrong way to make this happen. You might write two words. You might write two pages. You might draw a picture.

What you’ve just done is had a conversation with God. Now carry that conversation with you for the rest of the day – keep it going. – and by doing this you’ll grow in getting to know God better.

(ideas are adapted from Louie Giglio’s book “The Air I Breathe”)

All I Can Do

Sometimes, all I can do is pray.

And today is one of those days. I can’t really tell you why, but today is filled with much prayer. For me, for my wife, for my daughter, and several other key people in my life.

Nothing is wrong. I’m not making a major change in my life. I’m not getting out of ministry. If anything, after last week at Pepperdine and their lectures, I’m more inspired and rejuvinated in my ministry efforts. Getting OUT of ministry is indeed the last thing on my mind at the time.

No one is sick, at least no one in my immediate family. Sure there are sick people that I am praying for, but I am confident God has them under His loving care.

God, in His infinite wisdom, created us with a need to have relationships, both with Him and with others. Recently, I have learned what it is like to be alone. Even though it was on just a temporary basis, I realized that I have come a long way in my life. Back in 2001-2003 I lived alone. I was a bachelor in Houston TX, doing whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. I didn’t have any restrictions in my life. If I wanted to go to McDonald’s at 2 a.m., I could have done so. If I wanted to go on vacation over the weekend to Mt. Rushmore, I could have.

But you could not pay me any sum of money to go back to that life. Sure, it was fun. Yes, I cherish those times with the students and friends and teachers in my life.

However, there were 2 key components missing in my life at that time. God, and my family.

Okay, let me rephrase that. God wasn’t missing. God was and is always there for me. I just treated him as an afterthought. I went through the motions. God was a part of my life, but was not my life. I didn’t think of Him much outside of my lesson plans to teach Bible, putting together chapel for Westbury, or the trips to the church building. At that time of my life, God was just there, and that was about it.

The other key component missing was my wife, and now here recently I have learned – my daughter, Josie. Sure, I had friends there, and my day was occupied by my students, but I had no real relationships. I bounced around from group to group, never allowing myself to get too terrbily close to anyone.

Fast forward a few years to present day. I think God puts us in our own personal deserts at certain times, so we will be forced to take a step in a different direction, hopefully being towards Him. My steps toward having a closer, more intimate relationship with God, came about as a result from the other relationship in my life – Kristen. To take it a step further, it went even farther when Josie came along.

Being forced to be by myself this past week caused me to gravitate towards God a bit more. Its amazing how it really is true that when you shut up for a bit, and allow God to speak, that He actually has some really good things to say.

And now, all I can do is pray, for without prayer, I do not have God in my life. Without God in my life, all other relationships I have just don’t mean as much. Without God in my life, my career, my lifestyle, my passion and drive is gone. Without God, the miracle of my daughter being born into my life disappears. Without God, there would be nothing, so all I can do is pray, and let him be a part of my life.

And I pray that you will allow Him to be part of yours as well. All I can do is pray that you will see that. All I can do for you is pray. All that I am, all that I have, all that I will be is because of Him.

Odes of Solomon

Taken from the Odes of Solomon – 41

Let all the Lord’s children praise him,
And let us appropriate the truth of his faith.
And his children shall be acknowledged by him;
Therefore let us sing in his love:
We live in the Lord by his grace;
And life we receive in his Messiah.
For a great day has shined upon us;
And marvelous is he who has given us of his glory.
Let us, therefore, all of us unite together in the name of the Lord;
And let us honor him in his goodness:
And let our faces shine in his light;
And let our hearts meditate in his love,
By night and by day.
Let us exult with the joy of the Lord.
All those that see me will be astonished.
For from another race am I.
For the Father of truth remembered me;
He who possessed me from the beginning.
For his riches begat me, and the thought of his heart:
And his Word is with us all our way,
The Savior who makes alive and does not reject our souls:
The man who was humbled, and was exalted by his own righteousness;
The Son of the Most High appeared in the perfection of his Father;
And light dawned from the Word
That was beforetime in Him;
The Messiah is truly one;
And he was known before the foundations of the world,
That he might save souls for ever by the truth of his name:
Let a new song arise from them that love him.  Hallelujah.

Friday is always Friday, No Matter What

No matter what, you can’t take Friday away from me.

For the past 9 years or so, I never took a regular day off from work, except on Saturdays.  Every church I’ve worked for has allowed me to take one day off during the week, plus Saturday.  I never routinely took my day off.  Sometimes, I would just come home early from a day at the office, but I never really did much of that.  If Kristen was working, what was I going to do with my day off?

Since coming to Houston, I have realized the value of a day off.  Most of us on staff take Fridays off, and it has really helped make it feel like what a weekend used to be like.  I take Friday and Saturday off, but its back to work on Sunday.  Well, really I usually end up with something to do with church on the weekend also, but I don’t mind, so long as I get my day off on Friday.

It has really helped rejuvenate my spirit.  It has helped me refocus my attention.  It gives me much needed rest.  I go to the gym and get an extra long weight session in for the week.  I get to do some things around the house.  I have time to pray, meditate, and sometimes fast.  I have a chance to listen to God.  It has given me so much.

You know, God rested.  It doesn’t always make sense that God rested.  I mean, He is God.  He created rest.  I can’t entirely comprehend it.  However, its kind of neat to think about our God, taking it easy for a day.  Don’t get me wrong, God never stops loving, working, creating…but I’m sure He still takes a breather every now and then.  If for no other reason, its to stop and look at his creation, maybe re-evaluate it, relish in it, soak it in, or cry over it.

Ecclesiastes tells us to seize every moment we have.  How will you seize today?  How will you relish in the day that God has given to you?  May God bless all of us this weekend.