Thursday, July 19, 2018

Exhausting Conversations


Ever have one of those friends that just continues to speak nonstop? What you say doesn't seem to matter as much as them waiting for you to finish so they can say something else?  "Conversation" with them is not really conversation, it's just an ongoing list of them ... things gone right, things gone wrong, what they need, what they want ...

It's like talking to them is simply listening to a litany of their rolling thoughts ... it's just exhausting to be in their presence ...

Or maybe ... you're that friend at times?

Yeah - me too ... 

We love them - they are our friends - and sometimes they (or we) truly just need to vent ... I get that. But if this is our pattern for conversation, it can truly limit the benefit of friends, and more importantly growth.

Unfortunately I'm that way often with one Person in particular when conversing - God.

I hear some say that "there is no wrong way to pray".

Well, in spirit I understand; just as a patient and loving father will always welcome their children with his ear. God is the perfection of this patient and loving Father, and as for our endless talking, He welcomes that too - He even said as such.

But to not mature beyond this level of conversation is missing out on something spectacular. So while Grace and Forgiveness abound, I think I often pray immaturely ...

I still love one of the models of prayer that Jesus gave us for conversing with our Heavenly Father ...

"Father, you are Awesome and Holy!
Whatever Your will is, it shall be!
Could you supply my 'real needs'
   ... just for today?
We'll talk about tomorrow, tomorrow.
By the way, yet again, can you forgive me Father
   ... just as I've already forgiven others myself.
I know I already have it from Jesus,
   ... but I just wanted to confess my need for it again.
One more thing,
   ... please protect me from temptation and Satan today."
 - Matthew 6:9-13 (MCT - Matt Conversational Translation)
Then when?

We listen ... and sit ... how can we honestly expect to hear from God by speaking constantly?

Think about it ... when we go to the Lord in prayer, is our goal to get things off our chest - or is it to actually hear from God?

If our prayers are filled with words and lack a time of silence for God to speak ... what is the point?

It's just like that friend that never shuts up ... we love that friend, and we actually want to give them genuine input into their life - but they just are too busy unloading and not ready to receive.

So let us not be too busy to listen ... to our friends ... and more importantly to God.

His,
~Matthew

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Overflowing


' You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.' - Psalms 23:5

What do you think of when you read "my cup overflows"?

I used to picture ... well ... literally a cup overflowing! Especially since the picture painted in that passage is God setting a table for us. However, isn't that kind of making a bit of a mess? Is that really what this passage is illustrating? Me sitting at the table with my Lord as I watch my cup overflow? Pouring out onto the table?

We are not meant to just idly collect; we are meant to share, and pour out into others with what we have received ...

As Trevor Joy put it, “We are not a cup for God‘s love, but rather a conduit."

Now when asked the same question, I like to picture this overflowing as a series of rivers with waterfalls. Powered by the Glacier of God as He pours Himself downstream into others; lakes, streams; rivers ... and in turn they continue to pour themselves into other bodies of water ... an ever moving source of His love and blessing.

Yet if I'm honest, I think I sit staring at my cup far too often as it is being poured into ... and overflowing ... not in the way He intended.

Undoubtedly like me you may see yourself as a messy overflowing cup in some areas ... but hopefully you also see how He has shaped you into His waterfall for others in other areas ... let's enjoy drinking from His Cup He pours out for us ... but let's just keep the water moving!

His,
~Matthew

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Words to Live By


I was recently led to listen to a talk from Life Church by Craig Groeschel, Words to Live By

Romans 12:1-2 has been a mantra of mine now for over a decade. It has shaped me as I continue to go back to these simple yet profound words. Specifically the 2nd verse speaks about renewing our mind ... as what we think, indeed drives how we live, who we are, and Whose we are.

'Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. ' - Romans 12:2

Craig in his talk opened up about a particular spiritual discipline he has followed now for over a year. We all have ours (well, we should) and they are likely similar (daily time in His Word, prayer, journaling, etc.). However he offered, challenged, and encouraged us to try to include one of his disciplines into our lives ...

          ... Words to Live By.

We are bombarded with lies from the enemy each day ... thoughts enter our minds such as:

Worry
  Anxiety
    Lust
      Worthless
        Overwhelmed
          Underappreciated
            Exhausted
              Burned Out
                Joylessness

... the list can go on and on ...

However imagine washing ourselves with the Truth of God we read in Scriptures. We have the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, and yet we settle with believing a lie, being deceived by the enemy, and sitting in our stronghold of ________ (you fill in the word(s) from above).

So he created words to live by in a way to combat the lies of the enemy. Daily he reads these - aloud -  even if at first it seems silly, and may even feel like a lie (oh how we have believed lies for so long).

If you constantly tell yourself that you're a failure, you'll likely live your life as one.
If you constantly tell yourself that you are anxious, you'll likely live anxiously.
If you constantly tell yourself that you are overwhelmed, you'll likely feel like it all the time.

This is not [just] positive thinking. I've tried that ...
   words apart from the power of God are empty and powerless.

So he shared his - in vulnerability and openness ... and now I will share mine. I imagine sitting with God as I repeat these words. After I'm done saying them, He smiles at me as if to respond "that's what you need to combat these lies with Matthew, now say them again."

So I will ... daily ...

These will shape me, renew my mind, and reflect me more each day.

These are my words to live by ...

Because of Christ, I’m not anxious about anything.
I cast my cares on God because He cares for me.
I have the peace of God dwelling in my heart and ruling my mind.
In quiet times and in isolation, it is God's voice that accompanies me.
I honor my body God gave me by eating to live, not living to eat.
I honor God by being a good steward of His finances He entrusted to me.
I am faithful to the wife God gave me; every day, and in every way.
My words build up my children, they do not exasperate them.
I lead my home under the banner of Christ and in fear of my Lord.
I stand in the gap and pray for my wife and children, every day.
I am an encourager.
   to my wife, my children, and those around me.
I listen before I speak, and do not lean not on my own understanding.
I am a man after God's own heart.
I am saved for eternity because of Whose I am, not who I am.
I am a son of the One True and Living God.
Christ is Lord in every aspect of my life.
Christ knows me. I know Christ.
I am a Christian.


His,
~Matthew


If you have not, I encourage you to watch Craig's entire talk on this topic. It has blessed me, and I'm sure it will bless you. Message below:


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