Monday, January 30, 2012

Prayer--Technique or Faith?

John taught his disciples to pray so Jesus' disciples asked Him to teach them to pray. A simple request which elicited a simple answer.
Luke 11: 1-13
Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.”
So He said to them, “When you pray, say:
"Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us day by day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
For we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one."

 And He said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’?  I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.
 “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.  If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish?  Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?  If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

So, in these few simple sentences Jesus taught his disciples how to pray.
Go and speak to God like you would go to a dear friend when you need something immediately to love someone you must love and you know your friend has it and will give it.
Go and speak to God and ask like a child who wants some particular kind of satisfaction that is a good thing that he knows his caring father has in his possession and he knows he will give it.

Simple. "When you pray, say...." That's it. Go to God asking for resources to love those you must love. Go to God asking for what He has that you need to be His satisfied child. Go to God asking because He is generous toward you and toward others. "When you pray, say" to God what you really think about Him as your friend and as your father.

Jesus' simplicity is amazing. His instruction is simple because He begins and ends everything in His Father's character. Man's teaching is complex because it begins and ends in spiritualized technique.

We want to learn the techniques of the Christian life so we can dominate them and control them. We want to become less dependent through technique. We want to graduate to what we are told are the highest and most powerful Christian techniques so we can climb the pyramid of Christian attainment. We want to say
"I am getting better at this Christian technique called prayer."

Jesus never taught a technique called Christianity. Listening to Jesus there is no such thing as "Christian technique." The two words do not go together.

There is no technique in Christianity but there is God's character revealed in Christ to which we speak and from which we receive. Jesus revealed and taught the character of His Father. When we pray by faith we speak straight to the character of God.

Faith is not a technique. Faith is receiving directly from God's character in Christ by the Spirit. Faith is being a friend of God. Faith is being a healthy, satisfied child of God. Faith is orienting absolutely everything to the generous character of God just like Jesus did.

So much of today's teaching is technique. So much of today's Christianity is complicated. That is why Jesus is so refreshing. Hear Him and prayer will simplify to "When you pray, say...." Speak to God what you really think of Him. Simple.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


Seismologists are aware of tremors beneath the surface of the earth that cause no alarm to the millions who live and walk unaware. The scientists watch and listen because they know these nearly imperceptible movements will someday give rise to earthquakes that may claim thousands of lives in a matter of seconds.

Though their contstant vigilance cannot stop what may happen, they can perhaps give sufficient warning that danger is close. Even a few minutes warning can save lives.

There is evidence in Scripture that mankind's behavior influences the creation. There is a link between how we as humans behave and how at peace the earth will be. It appears that we humans can make the creation tremble and groan.

"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now."

Romans 8:18-22

What is it that causes the earth to tremble and groan? What sends tremors through the creation? It is the failure humans to behave as the "sons of God." It is humanity's failure to continuously love as God loves.

Whenever love stops in a human life it sends a tremor though the creation. Though this love stopping tremor may be imperceptible to other human beings, those who stand close to the person whose love stops can feel the effects. We are all like seismologists when it comes to love stopping close to us.

Creation feels the collective effect of mankind's constant love stopping tremors. The creation trembles and groans waiting for the day that the earth will be populated by a humanity whose love does not stop. Only when all men love will creation stop trembling and be at peace.

Regardless of how Christians may feel about global warming and its conseguences, there is a greater threat to life on earth. That threat is the growing force of the love stopping tremors that are clearly gathering across the planet.

For this reason every disciple must be a contributor to the peace and rest of the planet by loving without stopping. May our lives be tremor free to the glory of God and peace on earth.

Christian enviromentalism starts with love for our God and our neighbor. May the place beneath our feet be at peace because we do not stop love.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Speed of Love

"Pursue Love...." I Cor. 14:1

Many disciples of Jesus believe that true spirituality would require a significant change in the speed at which they live. Faster would mean less spiritual. Slow would mean more spiritual. Mountain retreat would mean spiritual. Busy life in the city would mean less spiritual.

The reality is very different. No choice of speed on our part is needed. True spirituality is able to move at any speed in any place. We must pursue something much deeper than speed. We must pursue love.

True spirituality is about a continuous inspiration and orientation which comes from abiding in Christ and always produces love. To abide in Christ is to enjoy a barrier-free, moment by moment inspiration and orientation from Christ's Spirit within. We must choose to abide in Jesus' love moment by moment and then He chooses our speed. We choose the inner and He chooses the outer.

Once we make the choice to begin all inspiration and orientation in Jesus as our source, He will increase or decrease the speed of our activity as needed. Divine speed setting is part of what it means to pray "Your will be done."

Think of a pilot flying a modern jet airplane. The most important question is not speed. The question is sufficient inspiration (power from the engines) and orientation (direction and altitude). Losing power or losing altitude and direction is the real danger.

The spiritual life is somewhat like flying. It is a moment by moment inspiration and orientation found in Christ. Speed problems won't kill spirituality but a loss of inspiration and orientation eventually will.

Divine speed setting is called walking in the Spirit, living in the Spirit, being filled by the Spirit. It is called abiding in Christ and living by faith.

What we need is complete confidence that Jesus abides in us by His Spirit as both our continuous inspiration and orientation. Staying focused on Jesus inspires and orients us to move in the right direction at the speed of love.

The speed of love may be as slow as sitting by the bedside of a sick friend or it may be fast as leading a major company. It will probably be both for some. All of us will have what I call "monk" days. All of us will have what I call "executive" days. Some days we will be executive monks!

Jesus in us will set the speed of our love. Our job is to receive by faith from Jesus within the inspiration and orientation to release perfectly timed love.

Stay inspired and oriented in Jesus and the speed of your life will be the exact speed of the love only you are called and equipped to deliver.

Monday, January 02, 2012

The Satisfying Life

The Satisfying Life in 2012

Blessed is the man
         Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
         Nor stands in the path of sinners,
         Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
  But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
         And in His law he meditates day and night.
  He shall be like a tree
         Planted by the rivers of water,
         That brings forth its fruit in its season,
         Whose leaf also shall not wither;
         And whatever he does shall prosper.

The writer of Psalm 1 had discovered the plan for a permanently satisfying life. It was a clear and simple plan and needed no adjustments from year to year.

Continuously meditating on and aligning his life with God's loving intentions as expressed in the written law brought to this person a satisfying and fruitful life. Why did the plan work so well that it became the famous Psalm 1?

First, it works because of the universal spiritual reality that says "Whatever gets your attention gets you." Human beings are "receivers". Humans are what they receive and release. We receive by paying attention.

As much as we humans like to think we are our own source and can decide what we will do or won't do, the reality is that we do what gets our attention. We do get to choose what gets our attention from the available lists of possibilities. This choosing can be the solution or the problem. The choice the author of Psalm 1 made is the solution.

When we give our undivided attention to God's intentions for us and for others, God has us. Until we do this, God does not really have us and we do not have the real satisfying life.

Second, it works because of another spiritual reality that says "Only God can make us truly human." Being what you were meant to be and doing what you were meant to do is the satisfying human life. Only the person receiving continuously from God becomes like a tree planted by rivers of living water which gives its fruit in the right season.

When Jesus came to earth and lived among us He made meditating on God's intentions much easier to see and to live than it was for the author of Psalm 1. Jesus is the God's law written in human flesh. Jesus is literally God's intentions made visible and available to us. He is also what true humanity looks like.

Since Calvary Jesus has become the source of the Satisfying life and staying focused on Him continuously means God will have all of you and you will have all the satisfaction you need to be a fruitful human being.

This is called abiding in Christ and it is the right plan for living in 2012 and beyond.

Abide in Christ 2012. In other words "receive well to release well!" When you do God will have you and you will have the satisfying life! It works for all who freely receive from Jesus because Jesus is the plan that satisfies. He is the satisfying life!