From the monthly archives:

June 2009

How to Change Your Life

June 25, 2009

Ask for the old ways where lies the good path.   Jeremiah 6:16

Ask for the old ways where lies the good path. Jeremiah 6:16

At my best, I communicate what I have observed.  Whether in my shop or sitting at my computer, the creative process of observing, internalizing, and expressing is the push of life for me.  In my heart of hearts I am first a craftsman, be it wood or words makes little difference.  The expression of simple observations is what brings satisfaction to my soul.

And every week another challenge threatens the balance of what to say or write that will prick a mind or heart.  Is there a way to that turns the words I write, or the wood I work, into something uncommon?  Is there a way to say what has been said countless times as if it is heard for the very first time?

It is the passion of life for me.  Writing and creating is a most difficult task but it is also when I feel most fulfilled.  When I look back at what has been hewed out of the raw material of words, I experience the it is well with my soul kind of peace.  Breaching the chasm between thought and emotion with a word finely tuned is passion experienced.

I write not so much instruction or encouragement but emotion that can be read.  I communicate colors that can’t be seen but felt.  Words are like blind sensations before they are crafted into the moment of being read.

At the same time, people are struggling with life and need answers…not poetry.  Many in the Body of Christ are desperate for simple instruction that changes life from dusty ruts to garden paths.  It is there that words finely crafted can be more than powerful.  They can be life changing.  The writer of Proverbs wrote, A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. (Proverbs 25:11)

To speak “fitly” is a wonderful goal for life but for the same words to also be powerful is life changing.  So I offer to you a few words, thoughtfully chosen.  Maybe they can be life changing for you.

How do you change your life?  How do you break the patterns of destructive thought and behavior that keeps you tied to the stake of sin?  That’s the real issue, isn’t it?

First, you must change your mind by reading and agreeing with God’s Word.  Simply said, an exchange needs to take place.  Every thought and idea about life that does not agree with the Bible needs to be scuttled.  Sounds far fetched?  Not really, considering how much sense the Bible makes and how life is simplified by obedience.  This the first act of faith for many people beyond salvation.  Before life can be lived successfully, the Bible must become the standard for thinking.

The second change is a change of behavior.  The Holy Spirit promises to give us both the will and the power to do His will (see Philippians 2:13).  Simply put, God by His awesome Holy Spirit gives us the desire to obey Him and follows up the desire with the power to obey.  The only thing left is to exercise our will and follow through with obedience.  By studying God’s Word we discover His will for our life.  By submitting to His will, the power to obey is released and life becomes a victory over sin instead of an embarrassment and disgrace.

Finally, you must allow God to heal you emotionally.  God is not only interested in healing our sin, He is also committed to healing our aloneness (see Genesis 2:18).  Aloneness is what happens when we lose our willingness to trust others.  Other words for this tragedy are Self-sufficiency, Self-reliance, and Independence.  For some, these qualities might seem good, even desirable.  Our Western culture elevates some of these characteristics to being the basis for success, yet God’s intention from the beginning was that we would not be alone.  He was concerned first about healing our aloneness before He touched man’s sinfulness.

The first step to emotional wholeness is to allow others to walk with you.  Healing begins when we allow others to see our painful plight and invite them to journey with us.    Tragically, the church has often been seen as the least likely group to do this but that is a lie.  Simply put, the church is filled with people who know they can no longer walk alone.

Week in and week out, I visit with people who do not see real change as possible.  Some have walked with God for a long time yet have lost hope of forming the character they once desired.  Others do not see change as realistic, as if the call to biblical discipleship is outdated or just a romantic notion that is dreamed about but holds no reality.

But God is a Master Craftsman with the raw material of your life.  His passion is to turn and shape you into a vessel worthy to carry His very glory on this earth.  What He needs is your cooperation in the process.  That’s right, your Father wants your participation in His grand scheme for your life.

A change of mind, a change of behavior, and a healing of your emotions…these are some of the tools that your Father will wield in His good workshop.  No doubt it is difficult and painful to feel His tools against the grain of your desire.

Difficult friend, but not impossible.  Stay on the bench a little longer.  The greatest tool in God’s hand is your willingness to sit still and wait.

I have learned more from the hammer, file, and fire than anything else in my Father’s shop.  When my classroom is darkest, I see the most.
Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892)


Shameless Praying…

June 18, 2009

Our too general neglect of looking for answers to what we ask, shows how little we are in earnest in our petitions. A husbandman is not content without the harvest; a marksman will observe whether the ball hits the target; a physician watches the effect of the medicine which he gives; and shall the Christian be careless about the effect of his labor?

Edward Bickersteth (1786-1850)

“If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” John 14:14
“Whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give it to you.” John 15:16
“If you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you.” John 16:23
“Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.” John 16:24

In the hearts that would first possess the treasure trove of redemption, Jesus declares over and over that He and the Father agree to answer and give, simply so our “joy will be made full.” This grand declaration of commitment and servanthood is like the front door of a new mansion.  It is the only entrance and yet is a door that is always open, large enough to receive all guests, and is so inviting that even the most timid could not neglect such an offer.  Because of the Holy Spirit who “would be with you always” the door of prayer and receiving would be wide open and become the very proving ground that redemption and new life are hard fact.

Why, then, do we not receive what we pray for?  I mean, isn’t that the real issue with so many of us that pray?  We ask and don’t receive.  We are left with doubt and confusion over the words we want desperately to believe and the testimonies that give power to many others.  And the enemy of our souls twists the lies into plausible deceptions.  Pretty soon, I just stop praying.

Sound familiar?

I don’t want to make this complicated or be perceived as faithless.  What I write are the words of Jesus and cannot be discounted because we want a simple path that  seems too complicated.  Here is the truth. The promise of answered prayer is rooted in the principle of abiding.  If you don’t practice the principle, you cannot expect the promise.

The Principle of Abiding
“If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”  John 15:7

It is not some cruel trick that God has played.  He has given us all the information and instruction needed to access the treasures of Heaven.  Beyond what He gives, He has also promised something greater in John 16:27(24), “the Father Himself loves you…ask and you will receive!”

The principle of abiding includes three distinct attributes from scripture:

  1. John 15:12…“This I command you, love one another.” Faith cannot operate in the midst of broken relationships.  Today’s church has little backbone to stand against family feuds and spiritual sibling rivalry.  The testimony of that is in the failed marriages, independent pulpits, and rebellious children that roam the halls of the sanctuary.  Few are willing to love enough to tell the truth.  Is it any wonder that the answer to even the simplest prayer is ignored?  After all, we might actually have to challenge people concerning broken and unhealed relationships.
  2. John 16:23… “If you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you.” Asking in Jesus’ name is like using someone else’s credit card.  You better be absolutely sure that it is something the owner wants and that you have his blessing to use it, otherwise, the card is considered stolen.  I’ve heard many prayers that use the “stolen” name of Jesus.  Prayers that are the desire of the person, but not in the heart of God or congruent with His word.  “Your asking for what you have no right to. You’re spoiled children, each wanting you own way,” James says.
  3. Luke 11:5-13… “because of his persistence… he will give him as much as he needs… Ask! Seek! Knock!” Our instant society does not like to wait or “persist” for anything.  The word means “shameless”, by the way, as in “don’t be ashamed but ask and you’ll get what you need.”  Too often, we are able to meet our own need instead of waiting on God.  Ask!  Seek! Knock!

But beyond all of these things is the most simple and direct instruction that the scriptures give concerning prayer.   Philippians 4:6 states, By prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.

“Let your requests..” says the Holy Spirit. No longer struggle to know God’s perfect will.  No longer question whether or not the love of God is big enough to fit the bill.  Allow the requests to flow.  Let God know what you desire in prayer. Persist in your request.  Love the brethren.  And doubt no more… the Father, Son and Holy Spirit love you.



Becoming God Sufficient

June 10, 2009

There is no confidence in the supernatural, and (modern Christians) never expect nor seek the supernatural God to intervene in human affairs.  Nor do they believe He will punish their unfaithfulness (see Jeremiah 5:12).  As a result of modernity, we have simply lost an understanding of who God is… we think that financial provision can […]

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The Demon Possessed Man

June 9, 2009

Have you ever wondered what it was like to be a follower of Jesus long ago? All of the disciples left behind their jobs and their homes to follow Jesus. But as they followed Jesus, the twelve disciples saw things that they had never seen before. In this exciting story, Jesus meets a demon-possessed man […]

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Catching The Beat

June 3, 2009

There is a rhythm to India that cannot be described with words or music. What is chaos to most is really a complex dance of sights, sounds and smells that defy conventional description and arrests sensible judgement. Instead, India must be experienced, engaged and enjoyed if one is to hear the beat. The traffic is […]

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