Showing posts from July 1, 2012

“Getting Religion”

Religion doesn’t have a very good reputation among us. In Europe during the dark ages religion was married to government and in many instances controlled its leaders, like the king. It had powerful sway and enriched itself rather than serve the masses. Religion and Christianity are not one in the same. Religion is ceremony, ritual, buildings, rules, special days and more. Christianity is an active and vibrant living out of life based on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ that cleanses us and the perpetual motivating love of God the Father that challenges us to reach out to others in testimony. James says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” (1:27) No one sees us as clearly as God the Father does, so His acceptance of us reveals our alignment with His purity and holiness. Warren Wiersbe states in his book on James, “Pure religion means practici

Faith Sharing

When you are faced with the opportunity to tell others about the God that you have committed your life to, what do you share? Some of us don’t know what to say, so we say nothing. Others of us share a variety of stories which are nice to hear but don’t focus our message to the listener. A few of us share as Paul did in his discussion with Felix and his wife Drusilla. Paul happens to be in prison and Felix is the governor who was well acquainted with the “Way,” as Christianity was called for a brief time to distinguish it Judaism, who he is brought before to defend himself against accusations from Jewish leaders. Paul is held for over two years and often speaks before Felix. “He sent for Paul and listened to him as he spoke about faith in Christ Jesus. As Paul discoursed on righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and said, ‘That’s enough for now! You may leave. When I find it convenient, I will send for you.’” (Acts 24:24-25) Here we have a good ex

Listening’s Advantage

There is an action that happens often today that you must speak first before the other person has a chance to respond. Our society does not encourage us to listen. In fact often the only person that will listen to you is the counselor you pay $150 per hour. Through my coaching training and my actual coaching of others I have come to understand how important it is to hear first then ask questions to clarify and then possibly speak. This is not a new realization but one that was written about many centuries ago in the proverb, “He who answers before listening---that is his folly and his shame.” (Proverbs 18:13) Listening first helps you to gain the other person’s trust, gauge their knowledge on the subject and ask the right questions when they are done. It sends a message that you respect them. It helps you to see their side of the discussion. It broadens your perspective and can eliminate assumptions you might have made. It produces the possibility that they will listen to you a

Spiritual Spring Cleaning

When have you last done a spring cleaning of your heart? It seems that over time there are allegiances to sin that are established deep in our hearts. It may be that we no longer see these actions as sin. Spring cleaning means opening every room and closet in your heart and getting rid of the footholds of sin present there. Josiah was one of the last kings of Judah and one day as Hilkiah the high priest was doing some spring cleaning in the Temple he found the Book of the Law. It was read by King Josiah and under great conviction he and all the people of Jerusalem renewed the covenant in the presence of the Lord. He followed that up with a clean out of all the false gods that had seeped into the lives of the people. Notice the bolded words which show the extent to which false worship had infiltrated: Removed from the Temple all articles made for Baal, Asherah and the stars Did away with the pagan priests appointed by the kings of Judah to burn incense to

Answered Prayer

We can spend a lot of time wondering why God does not answer our prayers but that isn’t the most productive process. It leads us to be negative about our self and often seek to compare our self to others. The better question to ask is, “Why does God answer our prayers?” King Hezekiah was about fourteen years into his reign in the Southern Kingdom of Judah when he fell ill and was in danger of dying. The prophet Isaiah came to him and told him to “put his house in order,” bluntly stating his death was imminent. At that moment, Hezekiah began to pray to God, “’Remember, O Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.’ And Hezekiah wept bitterly.” 2 Kings 20:3 Before Isaiah had left the middle court God told him to return to Hezekiah and tell him he had fifteen more years to live. God answered Hezekiah’s prayer. Why? Hezekiah had walked before God. He had made it his practice to stay in communication and conn

Humble Prayer

What kind of weapons are at your disposal when you are threatened by the rants of an evil person? King Hezekiah reigned over the Southern Kingdom of Judah after the Northern Kingdom went into captivity. The same conquerors that overpowered the Northern Kingdom brought their army south to take captive King Hezekiah’s kingdom. The King of Assyria’s supreme commander, his chief officers and his field commander cut a swath of destruction with a large army to the gates of Jerusalem. They mocked Hezekiah’s dependence on God since they had destroyed all other gods in their conquest. They tried to separate the people from their loyalty to the Lord and Hezekiah but Hezekiah heard their taunts and “he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and went into the temple of the Lord.”(2 Kings 19:1) He sent his leaders to the prophet Isaiah to ask him to pray for the people. Isaiah had already heard from the Lord and told them to “not be afraid” and that God was “going to put such a spirit in him [t