Monday, September 18, 2006

Bothering God With Piddly Stuff!

There is a part of me that still thinks it was just a coincidence. And there is a part of me that knows it was a miracle from a God who is interested in the minor intricacies of our lives. But yesterday, it stopped raining for exactly 26 minutes. And that was precisely what I had prayed for. Here'’s what happened.

A friend of mine got married yesterday and it was awesome. When he was at our Tuesday night men's accountability group last week, he was excited about his wedding. But his one concern was that the outdoor ceremony was scheduled on a day where rain was in the forecast. I told him that I would pray that God would stop the rain for his ceremony. Everyone was kind of amused at the fact that such religious and bold words would come out of my mouth. Actually, so was I.

God did say in Isaiah chapter one that we could reason together, so I took him up on the offer. I asked God to rebuke the rain off of Randy's wedding ceremony. I reminded God how hard they had fought to remain sexually pure until after the ceremony. And I reminded God how far Randy has come in his faith. When he started the men's group, he was in a crisis of faith about God and his relationship to us mere mortals. But now his light shines brightly!

Yesterday I drove from Dallas to Arlington in the pouring rain. I prayed all the way there for God to stop the rain but had an umbrella with me anyway. Ten minutes before show time, people were ushered into covered places to watch the ceremony. But like clockwork, the minute the minister came to the front, the rain miraculously stopped. I sat in the seats uncovered with my umbrella closed for the whole ceremony. When it was over, the rain began once again. Coincidence? I am beginning to think that God might be more intimately connected to us than we give him credit for. Look at this story about a miracle that has always made me marvel.
The company of the prophets said to Elisha, "Look, the place where we meet with you is too small for us. Let us go to the Jordan, where each of us can get a pole; and let us build a place there for us to live." And he said, "Go." Then one of them said, "Won't you please come with your servants?" "I will," Elisha replied. And he went with them.

They went to the Jordan and began to cut down trees. As one of them was cutting down a tree, the iron axhead fell into the water. "Oh, my lord," he cried out, "it was borrowed!" The man of God asked, "Where did it fall?" When he showed him the place, Elisha cut a stick and threw it there, and made the iron float. "Lift it out," he said. Then the man reached out his hand and took it. 2 Kings 6:1-7 (New International Version)

I love the fact that some of the Bible versions say that the axhead swam to the surface. Strange, right? Not really. Is it strange to think that an axhead could swim, or is it stranger to consider that the power of God would be released in miracle proportions for the losing of a borrowed tool? Maybe we ARE that important to God. Maybe he REALLY DOES care about us that much. If he will stop the rain for a wedding, and make an axhead swim for a workman, what would he be willing to do for you?

Who is like the LORD our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth? He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap; he seats them with princes, with the princes of their people. He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the LORD. Psalm 113: 5-9 (New International Version)

Monday, September 04, 2006

Go To Jail! Go Directly To Jail!

I learned an interesting lesson the other day, and I really believe that it was from the Lord. Here’s how it goes:
“If we live like we are in prison, we will be free. If we live like we are free, we will be in prison”. It has taken me a while to understand this, and now it makes perfect sense to me.

There are people in the world with exorbitant amounts of freedom that are really in bondage. The freedom to go where we want, do what we want, eat whatever we want, sleep with whomever we want, and look at whatever we want has actually brought us into massive amounts of bondage, Our bodies are fat, weak, and addicted. Our minds are polluted with the world’s philosophy. Our hearts are constantly seeking selfish things. And this “freedom” to pursue earthly pleasures has helped us become a race that is losing it’s spirituality with lightning speed. When an obstinate feminist shrieks “It’s my body, I do what I want” she is opening herself up to eventually reaping the bondages of abortion and sexual promiscuity. When a man thinks he has finally gained the power where nobody tells him what to do, he has become his weakest.

Then Jesus explained: "My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work.” John 4:34 (New Living Translation)

Can you think of anyone who was freer than Jesus? And yet he came here with a purpose: to be a servant. He had one thing on his mind and could not be distracted from the mission of doing the will of his Father. If he is our earthly example, maybe we should learn from him what true freedom really is.

In prison, men are put on a disciplined regiment. They do the actions daily and regularly which will benefit their progress. What would it be like if we were commanded to do certain disciplines daily and we had no control over them? What if a spiritual warden made us pray daily with power and self sacrifice? What if we were forced to read the Bible with wild abandon? What if we had “witnessing time” every day at four where we were encouraged to share our faith with others? What if boundryless sex, porn, being drunk, drugs, laziness, and leading a secret life were outlawed and punishable with grave consequences? Personally, I think we would develop a deeper relationship with our Creator in the absence of such self destructive behaviors.

“You've all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You're after one that's gold eternally. I don't know about you, but I'm running hard for the finish line. I'm giving it everything I've got. No sloppy living for me! I'm staying alert and in top condition. I'm not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-26 (The Message)

What an interesting analogy Paul makes to an athlete in training. Olympic hopefuls don’t have the freedom that everyone else has. They are in a self imposed prison of discipline and training, but they are among the freest of all people. And that is the type of life where limits lead to limitless power. Decide today to put yourself into a prison where discipline and dedication are commonplace! Decide today to cast off the “freedoms” that actually hinder you! Decide today to bring yourself under the control and servitude of Jesus Christ. And watch how much more liberty you will have as one under the control and supervision of God.

“Jesus said, "I tell you most solemnly that anyone who chooses a life of sin is trapped in a dead-end life and is, in fact, a slave. A slave is a transient, who can't come and go at will. The Son, though, has an established position, the run of the house. So if the Son sets you free, you are free through and through.” John 8: 34-36 (The Message)

So Jesus said, "You've observed how godless rulers throw their weight around, how quickly a little power goes to their heads. It's not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for the many who are held hostage." Matthew 20:25-28 (The Message)