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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Dallas Willard - Hearing God Through the Year

God's Word Can Disturb Us
For this is what you asked of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, "Let us not hear the voice of the LORD our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die." Deuteronomy 18:16

Perhaps we do not hear the voice of God because we know subconsciously that we intend to run our lives on our own. The voice of God would therefore be an unwelcome intrusion into our plans. His word might be a disturbing element into our lives, just as the Israelites believed that to hear the voice of God would bring death.

In How to Live, G. Campbell Morgan addresses the person who makes his own plans and lives where he pleases, never hearing God's disturbing voice: "You know no disturbing voice? God never points out for you a pathway altogether different from the one you had planned? Then, my brother, you are living still in the land of slavery, in the land of darkness."

In truth, when we welcome God's voice, we find ourselves enveloped in God's loving companionship.

REFLECT: In what areas of life do you wish that God would not disturb you by talking about it to you? Where do you wish God would leave well enough alone? How would your character have to change to welcome God's words in that area of life?
From <i>Hearing God Through the Year</i> by Dallas Willard. &copy;2004 by Dallas Willard and Jan Johnson. Published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved. No part may be reproduced without written permission from InterVarsity Press, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515 or permissions@ivpress.com. Sent from the Hearing God Devotional. For devotionals like this one for your iPhone, visit us at 43rdElement.com


Don't forget God's grace is bigger than anything you will face today! 
Peace. David Cooke

Sent from my mobile. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

WE vs. ME


We is always ________________ than me.”

What fits in the blank?  What would you put in?  For some, “We” is a word of disappointment and pain.  Friends, family, church, bosses, co-workers, neighbors have let them down so the blank is filled with decidedly negative thoughts.  It may be the temptation to fill it in with “more disappointing”, “more unsafe”, “more hurtful”, etc.  The challenge of life leads to greater isolation from others because – so the thinking goes – if you don’t get close to me, you can’t hurt me.
            But no one wants to be alone and lonely.  Sure, we all want our space at times but we were designed for relationship on pretty much every level – emotionally, physically, sexually, spiritually, mentally.  There is a reason that solitary confinement is a known effective punishment that can eventually lead to complete breakdown – emotional, physical, mental and spiritual.
            So, what would the Bible put in the blank?  What is the Biblical benefit of the “We” in our life?  How about this:  better, stronger, wiser, safer, richer.  Sure there is a cost – like my wife reminded me, we always uses more toilet paper than me!  How true, how true.  Especially when the “we” are kids.

Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.” (Proverbs 11:14, ESV)
Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” (Proverbs 15:22, ESV)
A wise man is full of strength, and a man of knowledge enhances his might, for by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.” (Proverbs 24:5–6, ESV)
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9–12, ESV)



            “We” is how God intended us and created us.  But there are many who are far from “We” and lost in “Me.”  There was an article in the November/December 2010 AARP Magazine entitled All The Lonely People.  (OK jokers - no, it isn't my subscription!)  A few of things they discovered:  Over 44 million people are lonely and long to connect to someone else.  Most are ashamed that they are lonely and it drives them further away.  The highest percentage of people who suffer loneliness are those in their 40’s and 50’s but it affects all ages.  And, there was a 15% jump up to 35% who would be defined as chronically lonely from a similar survey 10 years previous.
            Now, let me ask you a simple question and the answer is not Disneyland:  What should be the least lonely people/place in the world?  The answer?  The Church!  But, I’ll bet our statistics aren’t a whole lot further off.  I’ve known many who have wandered away from CSCC and, after a little prodding, their reason was they didn’t connect – they were in a big group of people, all alone.  That breaks my heart.
            The essence of being a disciple is to Love God with everything we have and to Love People sacrificially.  Being a disciple of Jesus means we step out of our comfort zone to make room in our lives, reach out and just start loving people.  It starts with simple conversation – noticing when people are there and when they aren’t and then reaching out to them.
            We is always better than Me.  Find someone that needs a “We” and be Jesus in their life, love God, love them.  Make room, reach out, start loving.  It’s as simple and difficult as that!  And for those of us who are lonely, it is up to us as well to take the risk to step out, reach out and begin to take steps of trust.  Yep, you are going to get hurt, disappointed and let-down some of the time - just like you do to others.  But it doesn't change the truth that you need others and others need you.  Take the risk.

We is always better than Me.

Peace and grace,
David

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Is the message of Jesus to "be good"?


             Did you know that not once does the Bible say, “Be good.”  My friend Steve says to me that he can sum up pretty much any Sunday with this – “Be good, do good.”  Now, the Bible does say we are to “do good.”  But it doesn’t say anything about “be good.”  There is a reason for that.  In our language, “be good” has the following meaning:  be nice, be safe, be polite, be considerate.  “Being good” has a sense about it of some benign, non-threatening, bland idea of niceness.  Steve is probably more right than I want to admit.  Too often the message we can walk away with is that we just need to “be more good.”
            Here are some facts to think about:
·      The typical U.S. Congregation draws an adult crowd that’s 61% female, 39% male.
·      Over 70 percent of the boys who are being raised in church will abandon it during their teens and twenties. Many of these boys will never return.
·      This Sunday almost 25 percent of married, churchgoing women will worship without their husbands.
o   Stats taken from www.churchformen.com
What these statistics seem to indicate is the typical message of “be good” is coming through loud and clear to men and they aren’t impressed.  So, by and large, they are staying away and walking away.  That is a travesty.
Is “be good” really the message of Jesus?  Is “niceness” the ultimate Christian virtue that we are to attain to?  I think not.
One of my favorite books is by John Eldridge - “Wild at Heart.”  I think every man should read it.    His message is pretty simple and it is this – every man needs three things – an adventure to live, a battle to fight and a beauty to rescue.  I like that and I actually think it is a pretty good summary of the story of Jesus.  You can’t read the story of Jesus without recognizing the drama of adventure.  The story of Jesus is full of battle – John’s telling of the birth of Jesus in Revelation is the in form of a cosmic battle against Satan.  And, the New Testament makes it clear that Jesus fought for and continues to fight for his Bride – the church  (that would be you and me!).  Adventure, battle, rescue.  All the elements of a great story.
The last thing I want men to come away with on a Sunday at Cold Springs Church is to “be more good.”  I long for all but especially the men of CSCC to see their lives as a story that is fully discovered in God’s story.  I want men inspired to go for the adventure, to rush into the battle and be the hero through the power God.  I want men to see that the goal of life is not to be a good husband/father/man but rather to be a mighty man of God that is a holy husband/father/man.  “Goodness” is safe, holiness is dangerous.  We need more dangerous men that take seriously the call of God that transforms their world with the love of God.  Being good will keep you out of trouble but that isn’t what Jesus’ life was about.  Jesus’ life was about a deep connection to God that directed and empowered everything he was and did.  And Jesus was dangerous.
Men, it’s time to step up and move beyond good and pursue being holy.  I need you, the church needs you, the world needs you.  Step up!

I’ve got your back.

David
for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (2 Timothy 1:7, ESV)