Grieving in the Wrong Direction

Grief is never wrong, but there is a wrong type of grief.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again,
even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Even with the old adage ringing in our ears, it is still possible to cheat the tax man, but you will never cheat death.

Death embraces all.

And with death comes parting, and with parting comes grief.

If you have not known it, it simply tells me you have not yet lived long enough.

Grief cuts like no other pain. It’s burning sear leaves scars that will last a lifetime.

This will always be so, because the depth of our grief is in direct proportion to the depth of our love. To love someone is to send an invitation to grief, who will one day come knocking at your door.

So in large part, the world runs from grief. It seems that the human soul can bear many pains, but the agony of grief is the one we fear the most. Many would choose their own death over the death of a loved one, primarily because, “I could not bear losing you”.

Yet we must not think that simply because grief is painful that it is inherently wrong. Grief is never wrong. Parting is never easy. Love lost will always ache.

Yet, my Bible tells me that there is a wrong way of grieving. At least, if your life has been found in Christ, if your hope is in the resurrection reality of a Saviour who died for you yet rose again to defeat death, then grief isn’t wrong, but we can have the wrong type of grief.

Grief and hope are strange bedfellows. Yet Paul ties them together in a marriage of tears that we are told to encourage one another with.

If you are a follower of ‘The Way’, ‘The Truth’ and ‘The Life’, you will grieve in a peculiar direction. Your grief is ever upward; tears streaming and heart hurting, but with expectant eyes that are fixed on the coming reality of an eternal reunion.

‘We’ (plural) will be with ‘Him’ (singular).

Jesus will be the Sun of a new constellation, as countless saints are reunited in an eternal orbit of worship around the object of our mutual love.

So Paul says that that reality should underpin our grief.

Don’t grieve in the wrong direction.

There are few things more beautiful than to experience grief-laced worship beside a grave. Nothing exalts the name of Jesus more than when the grief stricken lift their eyes to eternity, and there see a living Saviour, then through their pain genuinely sing:

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Refrain:
It is well with my soul,
It is well, it is well with my soul.

Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.

My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.

But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

To the praise of His glory.

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Confessions of a People Pleaser

At heart, I’m a people pleaser.

Not the type that lets popular fashion dictate my wardrobe, or the opinion of my friends to tell me where I should go or what I should do, but nonetheless, I am a people pleaser.

What other people think of me matters, at least, it matters to me. I’ve spent most of my life trying not to fit a stereotype.

I didn’t want to be just another boy, lumped in with all the gross over-generalisations made of the juvenile male species.

I don’t want to be just another man, put in the pigeon-hole of masculine incompetence.

I certainly don’t want to be just another husband or father, perpetuating the general consensus of how inept we are at loving our wives or bringing up our children.

I love it when people say, “But you don’t look like a pastor!”

Yet in all my efforts to break the mould, to not live up to expectations, I have to admit that it still only proves that I’m deeply concerned with other peoples thoughts about who I am.

And I find that disturbing. After all, the term ‘people pleaser’ is akin to a dirty word these days… particularly within church circles.

Yet recently, I’ve been wondering if there’s not a place for a specific type of ‘people pleasing’?

As I’ve been reading through the book of Romans, it seems to me that Paul is advocating a type of deep concern for others opinions and how we live together as God’s people, that I need to pay attention to.

Look at Paul’s rapid-fire list of gospel infused, new kingdom, sermon on the mount sounding, commands.

Romans 12:9–21 (ESV)

9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. 17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Emphasis mine)

It seems that Paul is advocating a deliberate and strategic lifestyle, thought through in advance, as to how I can live my life honourably in the sight of others. Now I realise that the immediate context here relates to responding to others who may have evil intent toward me, yet it is the ‘in the sight of all’ phrase that caught my attention. We are to consider everyone else before deciding what we should do with the life we’ve been given.

In a gospel informed way, other people’s opinions of us should matter. Not in a way that panders to the whims of our fickle society, but in a way that cuts against the grain of our self-centred culture and shows the world what it looks like to live for something, or someone, else other than ourselves.

Philippians 2:3–4 (ESV)

3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

So I am a people pleaser, and you probably are to.

The question is, which type of people pleaser are we?

Christian: Are You Ready For Exile Stage Two?

A friend of mine put me onto this article this morning, and I haven’t been able to let it go all day.

Much to consider. Much to pray through. Much to plan for.

At the risk of including a much abused verse, a deep and prayerful reading of Jeremiah 29:1-14 is sorely needed.

Stephen McAlpine

The Western church is about to enter stage two of its exile from the mainstream culture and the public square. And it will not be an easy time.

In case you missed it, Exile Stage One began a few decades or so ago, budding in the sexual revolution of the sixties before building up a head of steam some 20 years ago. Finally some Christians sat down to talk about it 15 or so years ago, and that set the ball, and the publishing companies rolling.

For those of us in ministry who were culture watchers, Exile Stage One was a heady time.  Only we never called it Exile Stage One. We simply called it “Exile”, and poured over biblical texts such as the exilic book of Daniel and its New Testament counterpart 1Peter.  After all no one ever called World War One “World War One” before World War Two came along…

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Abounding In Thanksgiving

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

– Colossians 2:6 –

I’ve recently been enjoying a more detailed study of Paul’s letter to the Colossians, using the Bible Arcing Method.

One of the key take-away’s for me was found in Colossians 2:6, and specifically the phrase, “abounding in thanksgiving”.

Now, I consider myself a reasonably ‘thankful’ type of guy, but I had to ask myself, “Am I truly abounding in thanksgiving? Is the overall tone of my life, my words and my conduct, marked prominently by an attitude of thanksgiving?”

The reason why I need to be marked by thanksgiving is, as a Christian, ‘thankfulness’ is all I really have to offer!

Look at Paul’s reasoning in Colossians 2:6: Our walk with Christ should continue and develop on the same basis we received Christ. That is to say, the way you received Christ as Lord of your life is the same way you should continue to walk in him.

So how did we receive Christ? What did you do to earn his redemptive work at the cross and receive salvation?

Nothing! You received him by faith.

You did nothing. Jesus did everything.

Your salvation was everything to do with grace, and nothing to do with works.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Eph 2:8-9)

So if this is the way we received Christ Jesus the Lord, Paul’s reasoning is that this is the way we continue in him. And that’s why we must abound in thanksgiving. Any growing, any maturing, any deepening, is all a work of grace and not owing to any special ability or spiritual level I attain.

In a way, salvation has robbed me of everything except thanksgiving. All I am truly left with is the opportunity to say 1000 times a day, in a 1000 different ways, “Thank you”.

When I do this, when I proclaim my dependant thankfulness, I magnify the name and worth of Christ; I say to the world, “He has become more, and I have become less. Jesus is worthy of all your honour and praise.”

Not content to leave it at that, the Lord seemingly needed to drive the point home further. I happened to watch a ‘Look at the Book’ episode by John Piper on Psalm 50:8-15, titled, ‘God Does Not Need You’. I’d encourage you to take the time to watch it for yourself.

To the praise of His glory!

Flaunting Folly

In everything the prudent acts with knowledge, but a fool flaunts his folly. – Proverbs 13:16

It’s so easy to overlook the ‘fool’ warnings of Scripture, particularly the pithy sayings of Proverbs that seem to cut through the sophisticated clouds we love to puff up around us.

For example:

A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion. – Proverbs 18:2

I’ve met a few people like that. I’ve scanned countless comment threads that seem to attract fools like pigeons to seed. I’ve even been foolish enough to engage with the flaunting of folly, thus revealing my own lack of wisdom; after all, “If a wise man has an argument with a fool, the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet. – Proverbs 29:9“. I need to remember that. “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back. – Proverbs 29:11“.

Yet, I need to remember that it is so easy to point out the fools I’m surrounded by, while my own heart foolishly deceives itself.

Whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom will be delivered. – Proverbs 28:26

I am so prone to rest in my own ability, an over-realised confidence in my own potential, and this exposes me as a fool as well. For I too have tread the well-worn path of the fool, and often still walk those winding ways. ‘For although I knew God, I did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but I became futile in my thinking, and my foolish heart was darkened. Claiming to be wise, I became a fool…‘ (Rom 1:21-22). That’s me. That’s you.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. – Proverbs 1:7

This is my only hope. My heart must be instructed by true wisdom and pursue the path of real knowledge. This all begins with a high view of God, an all-encompassing vision of his holiness and majesty, all of which isn’t centred in my meagre and finite understanding, but instead, revealed in and through the eternal Word – Jesus Christ the Lord.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:1-2

Lessons I’ve learnt about the Holy Spirit from surfing

12Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.  1 Corinthians 2:12-13 ESV

8The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”  John 3:8 ESV

I’m a terrible surfer

In fact, saying I’m a ‘terrible‘ surfer implies I can at least surf.

I can’t. At all.

But that hasn’t stopped me spending countless hours in the water trying.

Here’s a few lessons I’ve learnt about God, and in particular, the Holy Spirit’s ministry in my life, along the way:

The Gear Does Not Make The Surfer

Nor does the right Bible, clothes, or vocabulary make the Spirit-filled man.

I’ve seen and tried it, it doesn’t work. The tourist with the latest wet-suit, a board shaped by the latest world-champion and surf-shop branded accessories was still as poor a surfer as I was with my second-hand, dinged, poorly repaired, circa 1970 single-fin stick! And even though I knew this, I still couldn’t wait to get in the water when I could finally afford to buy my own custom shaped board… didn’t make a single scrap of difference, I still couldn’t surf!

I’ve seen the same thing in my walk with God. It’s quite possible, in fact quite common, to try and dress up as a Spirit-filled man. Oh, I’ve looked, sounded, and appeared to be vibrantly living the Spirit-filled life, but I’m ashamed to say it was all white-washed walls, a thin veneer to the filth that lay within.

I’ve seen it in my life. I’ve seen the facade slowly crumble in the lives of others. It’s not pretty.

The gear does not make the surfer, nor does the right Bible, clothes, or vocabulary make the Spirit-filled man.

I Cannot Control The Ocean

But I can respond to it.

I can remember organising a surfing road trip only to be faced with glassy seas. I can remember sitting for hours hoping the conditions improved. I can remember sitting out behind the swell, terrified of heading into shore because of the enormity of the waves pounding the coast. I remember seeing guys around me suddenly dig in deep and head out to sea, leaving me unaware and trapped inside as a sky-scrapper came hurtling toward me.

Though I never mastered the art of standing up, over time, I too learnt the art of reading the sea. Noticing the subtle shifts and changes and how to make the necessary adjustments.

I’ve noticed too that discerning the Spirit’s voice and will has been much like that. I can barely fathom the power of the presence of God, I certainly cannot control Him. Yet, over the years, I have learnt to adjust, responding and positioning myself in the place He would want me. It’s not always easy, and I often find myself out of position, yet if I will stop and watch, humbly tuning my vision to His… ahh, that makes all the difference.

I cannot control the Spirit, but I can respond to Him.

Surfboards Don’t Have Motors

It’s the wave that provides the power.

Surfing is about allowing the power of the wave to propel movement. The skilful rider may look impressive, carving arcs and trailing curtains of glistening spray, yet without a wave… well, he sinks. This was my great frustration. I could never seem to find that sweet spot. I was either to late, sinking back into the water as the wave passed me by. Or, I was too far out in front, my momentum slowing as the power of the wave swelled behind me. It wasn’t the wave’s fault I didn’t keep pace, it was mine.

It’s been the same in my life as a disciple. More times than I care to admit, I’ve either rushed ahead, or lagged behind. Of course, it would be easier if I contained the power for the spiritual life, or so it would seem, however, in God’s sovereign design, the power needed to live this life is not mine… it’s His. My responsibility is to keep in step with the Spirit; not rushing ahead, nor falling behind. Joy is found in that sweet spot, where the power of Christ swells up under me, carrying me, pushing me forward.

You and I do not have motors, it’s the Spirit that provides the power.


I still can’t surf, and that’s ok. But I’m not giving up on a life in the Spirit. He is my deposit, assuring me of my inheritance in Christ. He is my comforter, the one who draws near with the soothing presence of God. He is the one who convicts and enlightens, heals and emboldens.

After years of walking with Him, I still often feel like a novice. But I think He’s ok with that, it means I’m not too sure of myself, and as long as my confidence is in Him, well, I’m sure that brings a smile to His face.

To the praise of the glory of Christ.

6 Effects of God’s Power

We cannot read the Scriptures without at some point coming to terms with the extraordinary display of the awesome power of the God it portrays. And power, by very definition, must have an effect.

The power of God is not simply some intellectual truth to grasp and recite. The power of God is real, and it is dangerous, and it is wonderful, and it is comforting; and we must come to terms with how we will respond in the face of it.

Among the countless effects the power of God has, I have chosen six that are significant for us to grasp today.

Six Effects of God’s Power

One: Destroys Excuses

Romans 1:18-25

[18] For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.  [19] For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.  [20] For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.  [21] For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  [22] Claiming to be wise, they became fools,  [23] and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.  [24] Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves,  [25] because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

The power of God is big enough, and strong enough, to destroy every argument, every reason, and every excuse for why it is ok to rebel against the divine right of God to be both served and worshiped. No excuse will stand. All that will remain is the absolute, all pervasive, power of God.

Two: Creates Hope

Matthew 19:26

[26] But Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Following a discussion about how difficult it was for the rich to enter the kingdom of God, in fact, Jesus had just said that it was easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, the disciples became understandable discouraged. In their despair, they quickly questioned Jesus, “Who then can be saved?” I want you to hear this, this was not the question of an intellectual, wondering about the theory of salvation. This was the cry of a heart loosing hope.

Now look what the power of God does. The power of God declares that the most hopeless situation, where impossibility reigns, can be suddenly overcome through this profound truth: ‘with God all things are possible’. Your salvation was secured by the power of God. What was impossible for us was achieved for us through the absolute, all pervasive, power of God.

Three: Develops Confidence

Jeremiah 32:17

[17] ‘Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.

This is the God who simply spoke, and everything known and unknown in this universe spun into existence. This is our God!

Regardless of the minute intricacies or mammoth grandeur of creation, God’s powerful word formed it. And regardless of the intricacies or grandeur of your problems – nothing is too hard for God.

Nothing.

Not even that thing that you’re thinking about right now. Nothing.

There is not one thing that escapes the absolute, all pervasive, power of God.

Four: Affirms Divinity  

What does it mean for God to be God?

In this world of rapid change, technological advancement, and medical breakthroughs – sometimes it is easy to lose sight of that which makes God God. So let’s read this slowly together, and hear the claims of the Divine.

Isaiah 46:8-11

[8] “Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors,  [9] remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me,  [10] declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’  [11] calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country. I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.

So in this world that is infatuated with all things new, let us remember the things of old. In in doing so, let us affirm the claims of the Divine, in the absolute, all pervasive, power of God.Produces.

Five: Produces Assurance

Ephesians 3:20-21

[20] Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,  [21] to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Build in your mind for a moment the most extravagant, outrageous, ridiculous demonstration of God’s power you can imagine. God’s got it covered. In fact, it doesn’t even come close to scratching the surface of what God’s capable of. The term, ‘far more abundantly’ is what is called a superfluous term. The dictionary defines superfluous as: unnecessary, especially through being more than enough. Paul didn’t need to say all those things about the power of God’s ability, but he scrambles for words to capture the enormity of the absolute, all pervasive, power of God.

Six: Celebrates Weakness

Of the six effects of the power of God, this is the one I grasp onto most… and I think, so ought you.

And this is why.

This broken world will crush us under it’s awful weight, and all our personal resources, support systems and social networks are not enough to ease the ache of our hearts. Disease decays, disability robs, violence destroys, depression swallows and death takes all. This world reveals our weakness and exposes our need for a strength and power greater than our own. In fact, it is our very weakness that allows us to see the clearest expression of the absolute, all pervasive, power of God.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

[9] But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  [10] For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

And it is here that the upside-down kingdom of God breaks through.

The surprising truth that God’s power is somehow perfected in our weakness confronts us, but also lifts us up. So when our weakness is the cup that God fills to overflowing with His power, Paul says that our weakness is worth boasting in. Because in that moment, a divine transaction takes place and God’s power becomes our strength. The only answer to the weakness of our lives is a declaration of the absolute, all pervasive, power of God.

I think one of the clearest places in Scripture this is seen is in the life of Job. Stripped of everything this world would identify with strength, rotting in the oozing boils that covered his body, grieving the loss of all he held dear, Job was as weak as most of us could imagine. Job had nothing left; his own wife looked at him in disgust as said, “Job, just curse God and die.” We would think that what Job needed were answers, a reason for his suffering, and that would somehow strengthen his weak existence.

But he didn’t get answers or reasons.

What he got was a revelation of our Omnipotent God.

Bowed Knees Before the Father

Last week I introduced a short series on Paul Shaped Prayers; the intent being to shape our thinking about prayer by considering Paul’s prayers through the New Testament.

To begin, let’s pause for a while and dwell long enough to be touched by the magnitude of Paul’s prayer for the church in Ephesus.

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:14–21, ESV)

The scale of everything in this prayer is enormous! From the all-pervasive nature of the Father to whom the prayer is addressed, to the glory of Christ throughout all generation, forever and ever. Nothing in this prayer is small.

When you pray like Paul, you pray big prayers! Even ‘small things’ find their true scale when you pray like this.

Paul prefaces his requests with an acknowledgement that any growth that happens as a result of his prayer comes not because of Paul’s prayer, but instead from the inexhaustible riches of God’s glory.

So pray big things humbly. Know that prayer is powerful, not because you hold sway with God, but because God’s glory holds sway over all things.

Now notice what Paul prays for…

  1. Spirit enabled power that reshapes the character rather than self-discipline over external actions
  2. That your life would be the residence of the Risen Christ, with it’s foundations established by faith – rather than an acquaintance of Jesus
  3. That because of this foundation, you would have the capacity to know the unknowable; to join with that great cloud of witnesses in seeing Christ for who he truly is; to actually grasp love, real love, not as the world defines it; to have the full full-ness of God so fill you up that there is no room left for any other selfish ambition – rather than, “Yeah, I’m giving this Jesus thing a go”

And just in case we may think we have a picture of what that life would look like, what it would feel like to see this come to life in my own existence and the lives of those around me, Paul’s prayer expands even more.

Paul finishes by reminding himself, and us, that we address a God who isn’t restricted by the small-ness of our prayer, no matter how big we think we’re praying. We cannot even begin to approach God’s capacity to do big things in the lives of those we pray for, our greatest dreams or most outlandish requests don’t even scratch the surface.

So pray big, but expect God to be bigger!

Imagine with me for a moment what your church might look like if it committed to praying for each other like this…

Now start.

To the praise of his glory… forever and ever. Amen!

A Paul Shaped Prayer

The ebb and flow of my prayer life is akin to the deep valleys and mountain peaks of some wild, untamed frontier. For every breath-taking peak reached, there are innumerable shadowy ravines to traverse.

At least, that has been my experience.

The heights have been seldom and few, with long periods of aimless wandering in dreary places.

I desperately need a guide.

And so do you.

So for the next few weeks, I am going to turn my attention to Paul. I know enough to know that not all prayer meetings are mountain-top experiences, but when I hear Paul pray, when I see that scarred and fragile man crumple to his knees, my heart yearns to pray like he did. To add my ‘amen’ to his whispers in the throne-room of heaven.

Next week I want to give closer attention to his prayer for the Ephesians, but for now, I utter it as it was intended, as a prayer for you.

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:14–21, ESV)

Monday’s Throwback

Easter has just passed.

Of all the significant dates on the church calendar, this would have to be my favourite.

I love Easter!

I love the fact that it burns will singular focus on the foundation of our faith.

Easter is all about Jesus…

And nothing about me.

That is the way it aught to be.

“He must increase, and I must decrease.”

The problem is, I am often my own functional deity. Here is a post I wrote on battling this insidious pull to treat myself as God. Self: My Functional Deity