Monthly Archives: March 2014

God’s Way Out of Worry

1619375_10151957200015841_1701684413_nWhat you are about to read below is just a small but tantalizing taste of what you will hear in this PODCAST, my expanded paraphrase of that wonderful passage, Philippians 4:6-9.  

You can hear the podcast in its entirety by clicking on this podcast player:

Concerning your many personal problems, let me encourage you to do what I do. Over time (of which I have a lot, sitting here in this prison), I have actually trained myself not to worry about anything, but rather to pray about everything. I share with God everything – my joys and sorrows, my victories and my defeats, my thrills along with my spills, my hopes and fears, everything.

And every time I do, He answers my prayers. Not necessarily by giving me everything I want. No! No loving parent would do that – not an earthly father, nor certainly our Heavenly Father. Instead, He does something so much better. He floods my soul with His peace – the quiet contentment and calm assurance that everything is going to be OK.

I can’t explain it. It is in every sense of the word a miracle of God’s loving touch. But especially during those times when I would otherwise be freaking out, it’s like God whispers to me in His wee small voice, “Hey, I’m here. I know what you’re going through. I’m on top of it. I’ve got your back. I will fix this – in my own way and in my own time. So… relax.”

Yes, that’s it! By His grace, because of His grace, I have learned how to mentally and emotionally relax.

Let me teach you this one simple principle: When we worry about stuff, when we become anxious, when we do freak out, we are not dealing with realities. We are mentally inventing fantasies, most of which will never come to pass.

But even if our fears do come to pass, that’s the point, isn’t it? They come to pass. Our problems won’t last forever!

Far too often, we negatively worry about the things that we imagine might happen, instead of positively channeling our energies into dealing with what really happens. What a waste of mental, emotional, and spiritual energy!

So I offer to you this challenge: Develop the mental discipline to think only about those things which are true, that are real. As someone who loves you more than you could ever know, I beg of you to train yourself to think only those thoughts that bring honor to God, rather than thoughts that cause you to doubt God. Doubts about whether or not God is big enough or loving enough to handle your present trials. Trust me, He can handle them. And He will handle them.

Think only those thoughts that are wholesome, not worrisome. Try not to allow your mind to meander into places that will emotionally bring you down, rather than to lovely places that will spiritually build you up.

Mentally focus on the promises of God that will cause you to praise Him, rather than your unfounded fears that will only cause you to question Him.

If nothing else, try to follow my example. I have certainly had my share of struggles. You know about the personal pains that I have endured, and continue to endure. You know that I could make the argument that life has unfairly dealt me — an apostle — a losing hand. But you also know that I choose to regard my present circumstances, even in this prison, as though our good God is dealing me a winning hand. Because you know what? In the end, I will win! And so will you!

Oh, my dear Philippian friends, how I long for you to put into practice all of lessons that I have taught you, both when I was with you, and now as I write to you. All of the principles that you are watching me in real time apply to my own life. In short, how I long for you to learn how to luxuriate in God’s peace, just like I strive to do today, and every single day.

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The Fast Track to Dynamic Spiritual Development

OK! You may well be wondering, “Are we really going take an entire message to talk about fasting?”

As you will hear in this PODCAST, Yes! We are indeed! And for some very good reasons. 

Just the mention of the word sounds like something out of an ancient Byzantine Orthodox liturgy. Certainly not something relevant to our fast-paced 21st century get-up-and-go, hectic, frenetic lifestyles. Which is precisely the point!

The fact that our lives have indeed become so deliriously fast-paced (Get it? Fast-paced? When talking about fasting? A little pun there.) demands that we build this discipline into our lives.

And just to give you one tantalizing clue as to where we are going with this: Fasting has much more to do with our time than it does with our food. As you will hear me propose in this message, fasting is much more of a time-management issue than it is a food-management issue.

fasting

It’s not at all surprising, really, that Jesus followed up His presentation of The Lord’s Prayer with this invitation to fast. Because here’s the thing: We can approach our newly-discovered insights on The Lord’s Prayer with all kinds of renewed enthusiasm and excitement about praying the way Jesus taught us to pray. (I certainly hope you do!)

But the raw reality of the situation is this: Many of us simply don’t have the time or take the time to pray. To get alone with God. To embrace the silence, an endangered species in our day, a silence in which we prayerfully consider the significance of each phrase of The Lord’s Prayer

I mean, if your life is at all typical, as you run here and rush there, you barely have time to eat, let alone time to pray. Which, again, is precisely the point!

So take some time — relatively very little time — to listen to this podcast. It may just change your life in a really, really good way.

Please note that depending upon your connection speed and web browser, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you as you listen. And PLEASE “Share” the link to this message with your friends.

HAPPY LISTENING!!!

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Shattered Dreams, Broken Hearts, Unfulfilled Longings

Broken-PromisesIt’s one of the most beautiful verses in all of Scripture… which, ironically, may not actually be in the Bible.

But as you will learn in this PODCAST, it really doesn’t matter. Because what Matthew quite possibly did not write, Paul most certainly did.

Paul ascribed glorious praise and power to His sovereign God who quite possibly Broke.Paul’s.Heart.

Paul’s heart broken by a shattered dream, an unfulfilled longing.

Yet through Paul’s resilience, we can and WILL derive much comfort in the face of our own shattered dreams, broken hearts, and unfulfilled longings.

This podcast is for you!

Please remember that depending upon your connection speed and web browser, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to play.

HAPPY LISTENING, and may God richly bless you as you do.

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Debt Relief — Rethinking Forgiveness and Reconciliation from Jesus’ Point of View

Online GreetingReady to have a huge load lifted off of your shoulders? A load of guilt that God never meant for you to carry?

As you are about to hear in this PODCAST, it is my sense that far too often in the Christian community at large, we display a woefully naive and underdeveloped understanding of person-to-person forgiveness.

Too many times I get the sense that our default position is to demand of the one who is wronged his or her need to forgive the one who wronged him. While at the same time almost giving a pass to the one who committed the wrong in the first place. As if to say, “Yes, it’s too bad that someone hurt you. But you are obligated to forgive that person, whether they acknowledge the hurt they caused or not.”

I mean, is it not one of the most basic of Christian ethics to say to someone who has been deeply wounded, “You need to forgive the person who wronged you, love the person who wronged you, and be reconciled with the person who wronged you. No matter what”? Whether or not they make any attempt to right the wrong that they committed? Whether or not they repent of the wrong, or even admit their wrong? 

A woefully inadequate view of forgiveness which (IMHO) ignores Jesus’ purposeful and particular and pointed and powerful usage of the word “debts.”

A naive view of forgiveness which, in far too many cases, only amplifies the pain caused to the one who is wronged. (When we demand of the one who was wronged a forgiving spirit, while neglecting to suggest any obligation on the part of the one who did the wrong to right the wrongs that they committed, or in Jesus’ words, to settle their “debts.”)

A woefully underdeveloped theology of forgiveness which only empowers and enables hurtful behavior.

Which forces me to ask, Why do we do this? Why do we hold the persons who are hurt accountable to forgive the ones who hurt them, without equally holding accountable those who caused the pain to their biblical obligation to right the wrongs that they committed? Thereby empowering dysfunctional behavior on the part of one who caused the pain in the 1st place? Which only motivates them to continue to hurt others with no accountability whatsoever.

Is this really what Jesus meant to teach here, in the Lord’s Prayer, when He taught us to pray, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors”? That no matter what the hurt, how deep the hurt, we just forgive. End of story.

I don’t think so.

You might be in for a pleasant surprise as you listen to this podcast.

Please note that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it might take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

THANK YOU FOR LISTENING!!!

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