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Lock, Stock, and Barrel

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“The point is simply this: Biblical Christianity knows nothing about compartmentalized living. There are to be no areas of the life where the Lord is not allowed to invade and take charge. In other words, there are to be no spiritual “junk closets” or areas we reserve for ourselves. We are to be His lock, stock, and barrel.”

From “Qualification for the Evaluation of Elders and Deacons,” J. Hampton Keathley III

Gifts from God

And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God. ~Ecclesiastes‬ ‭3‬:‭13‬

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God created work in the very beginning and said it is good! Then the fall of humanity brought a cursing of the ground by God and a reality that humans would scratch a living from it and by the sweat of their brow have food to eat. Still, God says eating and drinking and enjoying the fruits of our labor are gifts from Him.

As we celebrate Labor Day in the USofA, I pray that we will connect what we have from our work as being gifts from God. We do work hard and God does provide. Thank you for your great gifts God and the ability to work that you gave us.

Man of Understanding & Knowledge

Proverbs 28:2 says…

When a land transgresses, it has many rulers, but with a man of understanding and knowledge, its stability will long continue. (‭ESV)

The world is a land of transgression with many rulers. Jesus is the man of understanding and knowledge who’s stability will long continue.

It amazes me that Jesus loved the transgressing world so much that he gave up everything in pursuit of us. Living and dying as one of us. Defeating the grave and ascending as none of us. He’s the King of Kings, ruler over everything seen and unseen, and His stability will long continue.

When life is a roller coaster…His stability can hold your heart and hope secure.

What is a man of God?

A man or woman of God is someone who above all understands their place in the universe. A man or woman of God is just that…human. They are not God and know it. Knowing it, they do not try to ignore God or act as if he does not exist. Men and women of God choose to seek God above all else and pursue a constant relationship with God who is the sustainer and source of all life. They see their connection to their Creator as more important than food or water or even air. The very breath of life first entered humanity by the Spirit of God Himself and only He will sustain in the land of the living.

A man or woman of God is someone who loves the Lord with all their heart, all their soul, all their strength, and all their mind. They seek to live before an audience of One. Pleasing God is their desire and what fuels their fire. They burn with a passion deep within for His Name and Renown. They want their life to count and make a difference for the Kingdom of God. Yet they understand that the weapons we war with are not of this earth and that the greatest battles take place in realm that our facilities cannot fully grasp. Thus, a man or woman of God leans into the Father for power and purpose. They do not strive on their own accord for it is like a shadow boxer beating the air. A man or woman of God fixes their gaze upon Jesus, the author and perfecter of their faith, and seeks to understand where God is at work in their midst and how He would have them join Him. There is a deep trust in the man or woman of God that as they walk with Jesus, their life will be filled with purpose and meaning and indeed, advance the Kingdom as God sees fit.

As an outflow of their relationship with their Creator, a man or woman of God seeks to love others as themselves. At times, they love others because they are commanded to, even when it’s hard, choosing to act out of their faith rather than their feelings. Often they love others because they find deep joy in serving and loving others just as they have experienced Jesus loving and serving them. The man or woman of God experiences God as they love others; their hearts desire is to love others well. And while they may not always get it right, they press on to love and serve another day.

A man or woman of God see the beauty of God’s grace and embraces it daily. For as much as the man or woman of God desires perfection in Christ, they understand it is not to be completely realized on this side of Heaven. Only when they stand in the presence of their Savior King, the King of Kings will they truly be made perfect in Christ. And it is to that end that they strive; step-by-step, day-by-day men and women of God move ever closer to that incredible day when they will cross the finish line of life and be enveloped in the arms of their greatest champion. The one they walked with, talked with, and trained with. The one they listened to, learned from, and leaned on. The one they watched, followed, and obeyed. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – the God of all creation will greet them at the line and welcome them Home.

Having fought the good fight, and finished the race marked out the man or woman of God will hear the sweetest words one could ever hear, words that will reverberate in their mind and heart for all of eternity. Words that the man and woman of God know they are completely unworthy of hearing if it were not for the grace of God in their life (the love of a Father, the obedience of a Son, and the encouragement of the Spirit). And because they know they are unfit to hear the words on their own, they experience God’s love in the most profound way when God looks at His son or daughter with complete joy on His Face and proclaims…

Well done, good and faithful servant…Enter into the joy of your master.

It’s not about perfection. It’s not about all you can ‘do’ for Him or even what you bring to the table. It’s not about you. It’s about God. It’s about this Trinity God who created everything that exists. It’s about His Story that He’s telling…day after day after day, ever since He created the first day. Being a man or woman of God is about letting Him make your life beautiful in His Story.

Walk

A couple weeks ago a friend of mine sent me a 3 minute mp3 of Francis Chan speaking on 1 John 2:6, “Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.”  I was instantly challenged by this short clip and committed to listening to it every day for 30 days as a way of meditating on this one verse.  The audio clip is below as well as an excerpt from an article by Chan conveying the same thoughts.

Audio File

As Christians in America, we often complain about how antagonistic people are toward Christ. Personally, I’m not sure that Americans are really rejecting Christ. Maybe they just haven’t seen Him.

Try to be COMPLETELY honest with yourself right now. Is the following true of you?

You passionately love Jesus, but you don’t really want to be like Him. You admire His humility, but you don’t want to be THAT humble. You think it’s beautiful that He washed the feet of the disciples, but that’s not exactly the direction your life is headed. You’re thankful He was spit upon and abused, but you would never let that happen to you. You praise Him for loving you enough to suffer during His whole time on earth, but you’re going to do everything within your power to make sure you enjoy your time down here.

In short: You think He’s a great Savior, but not a great role model.

Full Article

Still…I Pray.

I have prayed continually.
I have forgotten to pray.
I have risen in the late hours of the night and in the early hours of day to turn my heart towards heaven and to pray.
I have slumbered when the Spirit is trying to awaken me and failed to pray.
I have blocked out hour long slots every day of the week for months on end to pray.
I have gone months without a single hour long block of prayer.
I have sought the Lord in prayer and fasting for days on end with steadfast determination to hear the voice of God.
I have been unable to go an entire day without forgetting that I am fasting, altogether failing to even listen for the voice of God.
I have felt the rich, tangible presence of the Holy Spirit upon me in intercession.
I have felt completely alone with my words and thoughts, constantly wondering if I am even being heard.
I have heard the Lord’s voice almost instantaneously from the time I quite my heart.
I have found myself struggling to recall His still small voice because it has been so long since I heard it.
I have been as bold as a lion in prayer, asking in faith for the unthinkable.
I have waffled in my prayers as a beggar hoping to get some scraps.
I have seen answers to my prayers in incredible ways.
I have seen my prayers go unanswered for years.
I have longed for more time away with the Lord in prayer.
I have avoided time away with the Lord in prayer.
I have blown through an hour of prayer and felt like I barely scratched the surface of all that was on my heart.
I have blown through five minutes of prayer and been at a loss for words.
I have prayed for hours upon hours and felt energized.
I have slipped away to pray for ten minutes and fallen asleep for hours.
I have prayed with eager expectation.
I have prayed with serious doubt.
Still…I pray.

This is not a contrast between the highs and lows in my journey with Christ.  It’s just a glimpse of my journey.  It’s real.  It’s tangible.  It’s honest.  I am compelled to a life of prayer.  Jesus was a man of prayer.  The disciples and apostles were men of prayer.  I am a man of prayer.  And this is a snapshot of my prayer life over the past decade.  This is authentic.  I am on a journey and I am going to be continuing to grow in my prayer life for the rest of my life.  Some times are more exciting than others.  Some are downright challenging to get through.  Some are electrifying.  All are meaningful.  All are purposeful.  All are worth it.  That is the perspective I have in my prayer life and that is why I am still as passionate about prayer as ever – even when the picture above looks so scattered.

Remembering: A Practice of Perspective

In light of my odometer induced reflections yesterday I have found myself greatly encouraged by how the Lord has been at work in my life over the past eight years.  More than this, my reflections gave me perspective.  Perspective that I am in great need of.  Not because I am struggling but because I am human and as such I forget.  My friend Tim Carpenter wrote an excellent piece titled The Art of Reflection, The Art of Remembering on this very thing that I’d like to refer you to.  Tim’s thoughts on this are priceless.  I can’t say it better myself, so I wont.  Just read what Tim had to say.  The following is an excerpt from Tim’s piece,

…failing to remember is part of what it means to live here on earth.  But I truly believe that one of the biggest stumbling blocks to whole-hearted and consistent commitment to Christ is the frantic pace of life that encourages us to forget all that God has done for us.

Read Tim’s Article

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Jay: a nickname for Jason
A2: a nickname for Ann Arbor
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