Weekend Words & Sunday Stanzas – 09/23/2012

While it is not always pleasant to think about, one of the biggest ways God grows a consecrated heart in us is through trial and pain.

towards hope

You allow suffering to come
they are sent so we become
a people that will persevere
even if these last for years
with Your strength to get us there
it builds up our character
as we become a people for You
we get a hope that is true
it encourages us to the inmost parts
as You pour Your love into our hearts
as towards hope we continue on
it is because You sent Christ Your Son
He came when we were powerless
at the right time in our distress
because You sought our hearts You missed
Your love was demonstrated in this
while we still lived lives of sin
Christ died to bring our hearts to Him
because He persevered to death
yet He rose up to life again
let us persevere through struggles
towards hope that is eternal

Taken from deeper words for God from a simple man of God by daniel m  klem, page 165.

This is an amazing look at “loving your neighbor.” I enjoy reading the posts over at Tearmatt, because it is raw, real, and from the heart. This one is just as great, and since I have a theology blog, I thought it appropriate to share it (It helps that one of my favorite movies of all time, “Back to the Future”, is mentioned!).
A word of warning for my more sensitive readers, there is one spot of strong language toward the end (about his motorcycle).

The Core Values: Cardiac Consecration

Here is your regular, friendly reminder to head over to Proverbial Thought for today’s devotional thought from Proverbs!

We now continue our look at the Four Core Facts and the Four Core Values, having examined the desperate pursuit of God and diligent prayer.  If you are interested in a more in-depth look at the Core Facts and the Core Values, look up my wonderful youth pastor, Jesse Bollinger, at Fervent Youth.

As I said before, all of the Core Facts and Values flow together. The Values are useless without the truth of the Facts. Without a desperate pursuit of God bathed in diligent prayer, there is little need for the third Core Value:

A Consecrated Heart

He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8, NIV

This requirement of a person seems simple enough. To put it in overly simplistic terms, we are required to do good, be forgiving, and live life honestly … with God.

Why are these so difficult, then?

To do good, to act justly, often means to think of others before yourself and to sacrifice.

To be forgiving, to love mercy, often means showing love, grace, and, yes, forgiveness to those you feel are least deserving … or to whom you would rather not.

To live life honestly, to walk humbly, often means realizing you do not understand this world or yourself as well as you think. It always means realizing you are someone in need of a Savior.

These are the beginning steps to having a consecrated heart.

But what is the first step?

Why not start with what it really means to have a consecrated heart …

From Merriam-Webster:

1
: to induct (a person) into a permanent office with a religious rite; especially: to ordain to the office of bishop
2
a: to make or declare sacred; especially:to devote irrevocably to the worship of God by a solemn ceremony
b:to effect the liturgical transubstantiation of (eucharistic bread and wine)
c: to devote to a purpose with or as if with deep solemnity or dedication
3
: to make inviolable or venerable <principles consecrated by the weight of history>
I especially like definition 2a. In fact, the second definition is the whole point.

In fact, this may help sum up this post pretty quickly.

Having a consecrated heart simply means that you declare your heart sacred, that you set aside your heart to be devoted completely to worshiping God.

Simple, yes? Declare your heart as God’s own.

For it to really mean anything, as stated before, it requires the Core Facts and the other Core Values.

You need faith that the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ was necessary for your salvation. Without this knowledge, you can consecrate your heart to anything. It happens all around our world every day. Look at all of the religions, numbers of gods, lack of gods (and God), and every other belief, including in the self. Apart from God, we can do nothing, especially save ourselves from condemnation. (A simple, quick explanation: No God = No humans, thus we can do nothing without God.)

You need to have a desperation to know God, which comes from a desire to know truth. (Many seek truth, but not all seek to know truth.)

We grow more desperate to know God through diligent prayer. At the same time, diligent prayer usually grows out of a desperation. (Kind of like wanting to talk to that boy or that girl on the phone at all times of the day or night, because you can not seem to get enough. You find yourself falling ever more in love the more the two of you talk. You know what I mean 😉 .) With the desperate pursuit of God and diligent prayer, it can often be a chicken-or-the-egg dilemma. It always depends on the person, the circumstances, and the ways of God.

When you believe something so strongly, you dedicate your life to it. That is what a consecrated heart is. It is praying “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10, NIV)

And it leads to the fourth Core Value: A Focused Life

What do you believe? Why? What do you spend your time doing and with whom and about what do you talk? To what have you dedicated your life?

Why?

Weekend Words & Sunday Stanzas – 09/16/2012

Seeking God includes talking with Him. It is not enough to just talk and ask and command. We must listen. However, when we ask for the correct things, we will also see our hearts and lives change.

how can i know Your will
if i do not ask for knowledge

how can i express Your love
if i do not seek it out first

how can i teach Your Word
if i do not study Him

how can i live my life
if i do not start living for You

how can i live for You
if i do not accept Your Son

Taken from deeper words for God from a simple man of God by daniel m  klem, page 158.

The Core Values: Diligent Dialogue

Here is your friendly reminder to head over to Proverbial Thought for today’s devotional thought from the wisdom book!

Last month we looked at the Four Core Facts, and this last week we looked at the first Core Value, the desperate pursuit of God.  If you are interested in a more in-depth look at the Core Facts and the Core Values, look up my wonderful youth pastor, Jesse Bollinger, at Fervent Youth. Today’s entry also

Now for the second Core Value:

Diligent Prayer

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
Luke 5:16

Jesus demonstrated diligent prayer. At one point, Jesus had to drive out a demon because His Disciples could not. When asked why they could not do it, Jesus “said to them, ‘This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.’”

Jesus did not simply mean “if you fast and pray you can cast out all demons.” Jesus was saying it takes a life dedicated to prayer and fasting, to seeking out the will of God, to get to know God intimately.

I knew this man who once taught a group of us (and some of them told me this was in no way a new teaching of his) that the biggest reason we see so few miracles in the Church anymore is because of a lack of dedicated prayer and fasting within the Church. I have come to see how true this is.

Where is the love?

I have heard the excuses. Perhaps you have, too.

    • I am too busy to pray.
    • I am a person of action, not prayer.
    • When all else fails, pray.
    • God knows my thoughts, anyway.

I am too busy to pray

I have covered the topic of prayer before here and here.

I am a person of action, not prayer

Perhaps you have also heard the line “Without God, you are doomed to fail.” Why should God bless your work if you do not talk with Him about it? Why should He help you if you do not want to include Him from the beginning?

(He still can work through you, of course. Balaam is a great example of that!)

Perhaps they fail, because God has not been involved from the beginning! Is it really that important to you if you have not included God the entire time, as in from the beginning?

Why do we tend to wait until the last second to include God, to talk to Him about what is happening?

Does that work with kids? Ask most parents and teachers: you ask a child to do something once, there is no guarantee they will think to do it again later (which is why children need to be constantly reminded to clean their rooms, feed the dog, take out the trash, brush their teeth, or a myriad of other things).

How does this relate?

As humans, we seem to expect people to listen to us and do what we want and think the way we think … WHEN WE NEVER SAY ANYTHING! (We may never stop talking, but we rarely say anything.)

Why should God help us if we are not sharing with Him? He may know what we are thinking, but if we hold it back is that not like saying “Butt out!” That is a far cry from “I love you!”

Love the Lord your God

As I have said before, all of the Core points work together. We should pray, because we love God so much that we are desperately chasing Him.

Imagine getting your dream job. If you never talked with your boss, would you last long? (Unless, of course, you are self-employed)

(Ready for a tired argument that is oh, so true?)

Try being a friend, a husband, or a wife without ever communicating. It will never last. Your friend or spouse (or even you) will complain about not being loved … or even liked.

If you claim to love God, you should talk with Him.

Notice how I worded that:

We must talk with God.

Some time in the future I will share some of my own story on prayer, but the most important thing I have learned is that prayer is a conversation.

Conversations go two ways. To be diligent in prayer, we must be able to listen at least as much as we talk.

Therefore, we must learn to praise and petition, to read and to listen.

Diligent prayer means to first ask God to help us, to change us, to grow us.

Diligent prayer means to study the Bible to know what God has said.

Diligent prayer means to share our troubles.

Diligent prayer means to hear our teachers.

Diligent prayer means to tell God how great He is.

Diligent prayer means being quiet before our God.

Diligent prayer means listening … all the time.

Notice the first word: It takes diligence. This means practice, dedication, and passion.

If you are desperate for God, you will want to talk with Him and make very crazy requests.

Fall in love with God. Talk with Him. Often withdraw quiet places to be with Him.

See amazing things in your life.

Next week I will tackle the third Core Value: A Consecrated Heart

Thoughts? Concerns? Questions?

Weekend Words & Sunday Stanzas – 09/09/2012

The last line of the poem today actually states the topic for this past week, and the whole poem fairly well describes certain seasons within the life of one desperately pursuing God.

We may fail at times, but we must learn from those failures and trust God. We can not go back to who we were and start over. We must renew our commitment in our hearts and minds, pressing onward and digging deeper!

moving forward

sometimes i stumble
other times i fall
i could go back to where
i started this walk
but then i would go over
what i have already learned
instead i will continue
i will move on from here
i have what has happened
now i must move forward
letting go of lessons learned
makes absolutely no sense
so i press on towards the goal
leaving mistakes behind
but not forgetting so that
when they arise again
i know how to avoid them
going back is not an option
not for me anymore
all that is left is to finish
move on from where i am
and complete this race
the race of life and love
and the pursuit of God

Taken from deeper words for God from a simple man of God by daniel m  klem, page 145.

The Core Values: Desperate Pursuit

Here is your regular reminder to head over to Proverbial Thought for today’s devotional thought from the wisdom book!

One thing I ask of the LORD,  this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD  all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD  and to seek him in his temple.
Psalm 27:4

Last month we looked at The Four Core Facts: Jesus’ death on the cross, the despair of the Disciples, the change in their willingness to suffer and die for the Gospel, and the conversion of Paul. (Here is another reminder that if you are interested in a more in-depth look at these points and the Core Values, look up my wonderful youth pastor, Jesse Bollinger, at Fervent Youth.)

This is all well and good, but it is not enough to know these things. To quote an often used and out of context verse (including out of context here!), “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.” Even demons believe God exists, that Jesus is the Son of God, that Jesus and the Disciples lived and died for Truth.

How can we do better than demons?

The Core Values, as with the Core Facts, grow out of each other. Therefore, today’s post will hit slightly on each of the other areas. Here is our first:

Desperate Pursuit of God

Believing and knowing requires action. How can we get to where we sincerely and honestly pray Psalm 27:4?

First is what every good Jewish boy and girl understood growing up: “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:5)

How do we get there?

It can be tough loving God with all that you are when you are constantly reminded of your past, of how you may have fallen short, or even because of your pride.

As Paul said, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14).

But forgetting can be difficult. We get so focused on it, and so many times it feels like the harder we try to forget the more imprinted it becomes in our memory. (I will get back to this in the next Core Value)

We must learn what Jesus meant when He said “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26-27).

As I have said time and again to our youth group, one of my favorite definitions of hate is “misdirected love,” or, as in this instance, “exponentially more love toward another.”

We need to get to a point where we desire to be with God so much that it is almost as if we hate our family and friends. This of course is impossible, because the closer we draw to God the more we will love others!

But this is what it takes. We have to focus so much on who God is that God is all we seem to think about throughout the day.

In my life, it took selling/donating most of my possessions and leaving home. I knew movies, things, and even some people were getting in the way of my relationship with God. It eventually led to ending an engagement to be married, losing my job, and going from Illinois to Arizona. It was kind of “go to the land I will show you” like Abram (Abraham) received from God in Genesis 12.

It is different for every person, but the key is that it takes an unbridled passion for God. It is like wanting that new toy, that new phone, that new car, that new dress, those shoes, that girl, that boy, that man, that woman, that home.

The only difference is that our desire becomes focused on learning about and falling in love with the Creator of the Universe and Lover of Humanity.

Why do you think the Bible refers to marriage so often when talking about God and us?

Next week is the second of the Core Values: Diligent Prayer

What thoughts do you have? How have you demonstrated a desperate pursuit of God in your life? What have I left out that you feel needs to be added?