Archive for September, 2010

A Focused Faith

 Having faith is good.

Having a focused faith is even better.

Putting all your faith in God is the best idea of all!

A faith that is tightly focused on the Lord avoids distractions, is less vulnerable to temptation, and is more responsive to God’s direction.

That is the kind of faith I want. What about you?

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Is Anybody Listening?

Wisdom cries out in the street, in the squares she raises her voice. Proverbs 1:20 NRSV

MP900423020[1] Wisdom may be crying out, but I wonder, is anybody listening? Our attention span is so short today that I question whether we are even able to keep our mind focused long enough to really hear the message God has for us.

This is not a new problem. The Jews in the Old Testament were frequently chided by prophets for ignoring the Word of the Lord. The Word was there, it was crying out in the streets, but few were listening.

MP900401941[1] Of course the ancient Jews didn’t have texting , web-surfing, email, e-readers, Facebook, DVRs or infotainment. They didn’t have the kind of information overload we have today. I think it is safe to say that we have more information available today than any of us can possibly consume.

So we have two choices, we can bounce from one thing to another, hoping to pick up useful  tidbits along the way. Or we can sharpen our focus, turn away from the noise, and tune into God’s voice, the voice of truth and wisdom crying out in the street!

When I finally settle down and focus in on God and God’s Word, I always come away refreshed and restored. I never come away feeling like the time I put into matters of faith was wasted time. I find that the Word of God is always worth listening to!

Not only that, I find the more attention I put on God’s Word, the more impact it has on me! In fact, I can honestly say that the impact God’s Word has on my life is directly proportional to the amount of attention I give it!

Maybe that is why prayer is such a powerful experience. As we pray, we take our normally divided attention and put it all on God. When that happens, the impressions we receive, the verses that come to mind, and the impulses we feel end up having a very powerful effect on us!

Today wisdom continues crying out. The Word is searching for listening ears. Why not tune out the noise for a day and tune into truth. Give God the gift of your attention. Then hear what God has to say!

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Strands of Praise

Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Psalm 150:6 NIVMC900447380

Praise begins in the heart. Praise starts when the fibers of our being dance  to the tune of God’s great goodness.

For a great video reminder that we were made to give praise to our Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer, you can click here.

Then let the song in your heart sing praise to God today!

Happy business man with other business people walking besides him

Listen Eagerly!

MP900444217[1] The crowds with one accord listened eagerly to what was said by Philip, hearing and seeing the signs that he did. (Acts 8:6)

As Philip spread the good news of Jesus Christ, he quickly garnered an enthusiastic audience. Crowds gathered to listen to him. We are told that they didn’t just listen, they listened eagerly. There was a sense of expectation in the air! That expectation triggered a desire and a hunger for Philip’s words!

Eager expectation triggers desire!

Isn’t that a great way to approach the Word of God? Whether reading the Word or hearing the Word proclaimed, we would do well to be eager recipients. Jesus told us that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness shall be satisfied. So we have good reason to be eager and expectant whenever and wherever the Word is being proclaimed!

Another advantage to listening eagerly is that it causes us to pay closer attention. In fact, the impact something makes on us is often directly proportional to the amount of attention we give to it! When we pay close attention, we move from just listening to actually hearing! With hearing, the message is more likely to get through, take hold and begin to change us!

Eager listeners pay closer attention!

MP900422194[1] Frankly, it is not uncommon to hear a person say, “God was so real to me in that moment” when they describe a spiritually rich time in their lives. Part of the reason God was so real was because their attention was 100% focused on God. Everything else was set aside. In that moment, that person was so attuned to God that God became more than an idea or theological concept. In that moment, God became real. God was experienced!

How wonderful it is to be that focused! Singular attention can really put us in a position to realize how wonderful God is, how indescribably amazing God’s glory is, and how life transforming God’s love can be!

Giving God our attention is also a sign of our love for him. When we give God our attention, we are showing God that God is more important to us than anything else going on in our lives at that moment. Attention is definitely one way to communicate to God how much we value him.

Attention communicates value!

MP900402576[1]But attention does even more than that. Giving God our full attention is one way of  making ourselves more available. That’s because the more attention we give, the more God’s truth will be able to penetrate our hearts and minds, the more God’s love will be able to change our lives, and the more God’s Spirit will be able to influence our behaviors.

Attention increases availability!

So we can all learn from this Samaritan crowd. We can learn to do what they did, and to put our full attention on the things of God!

Listen eagerly to what God is saying to you!

 Prayer:

Lord, you speak in so many ways. Help me to eagerly hear your Word. Help me to put my full attention on what you are revealing. Make me an enthusiastic listener!

Amen.

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Remember & Resurrect

Plato believed that learning is really remembering. From that perspective, learning is not the discovery of something new, as much as it is the recovery of something long forgotten. That tells me that my ability to remember is critical to my present and my future.

Plato’s principle is especially useful for the followers of Jesus Christ. It is in the process of remembering who Jesus is, what Jesus said, and what Jesus did, that our hope is reinvigorated, our joy renewed and our faith re-energized! When we reconnect with what Jesus promised, with what he forgave, with what Jesus gave up,  and with what he overcome, we are changed. We are drawn back into a life-transforming relationship with God by the Shepherd of our souls!Laughing Man Head and Shoulders

When I remember Jesus’ life, ministry, death and resurrection, I feel new life begin to bubble up inside. I see his love at work in the world around me. I hear his words echoing across the challenges of my day. I feel God’s love awakening my heart. I sense the Good Shepherd coming near, and his hand guiding my life.

I am no philosopher, but I am a psychologist. I know something about the importance of memory. As a Christian, I can honestly say that not only is memory important, remembering resurrects my faith. It breathes new life and energy to the truths I believe in. Remembering also draws me closer to the Good Shepherd, and fills my soul with his life and love!

MP900390504[1]Why not join me today and do a little bit of remembering?

Think about Jesus.

Let his truth and love breathe new life into your faith.

Let your memory resurrect your joy!

Hungry?

What are you hungry for? Love? Meaning? Purpose? Direction? Safety? Joy? Peace?

Everyone of us has a hunger in our hearts. The only way to get rid of hunger is to feed on the kind of food that satisfies the kind of hunger we have.

The Good Shepherd knows his sheep. That means Jesus knows what we need and what we hunger for. Jesus knows us and the longings of our hearts.

Not only are we known, we are feed. Jesus gives the bread of life and living water that satisfies the longings of our souls.

Shepherd

Follow him today. Feast on his truth. Drink in his love.

Let his goodness and grace take your hunger away!

Less Wandering & More Following

MP900443601[1] Never stop learning. Never turn away from what God is trying to teach you. God’s precepts are good, and God’s instruction leads to life. Proverbs 4:2 paraphrased

One important thing to know about sheep is that they have very limited vision. It is hard for them to see more than a few feet in front of them. So it is very easy for them to wander off and get themselves into trouble.MP900146012[1]

You and I can see a lot further than sheep, but when compared to what God sees,  our vision is terribly limited. When looking across the landscape of eternity, we can’t see or even begin to conceive of all that has happened, is happening or will happen.

That’s why we desperately need the Good Shepherd. Jesus has the vision we lack. He was there from the beginning, and knows all that is to come. He knows where we need to go and what we need to avoid. He knows what is best for us, and what we need to do be our best. He knows God’s plan, and is ready to lead us in our part in that plan.

Even though my Good Shepherd is ready to teach me God’s ways and lead me in the paths of righteousness, I sometimes don’t listen very well. I resist my Shepherd’s lead. That really is foolish! I have to remember that God’s plans and purposes for me are far beyond anything I could ask or imagine. God has a far better plan in mind than my limited vision could ever dream up.MP900262885[1]

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I am like a wandering sheep. Thankfully,  my Shepherd nudges me to keep on learning. The more I follow Jesus, the more I realize he knows the way through the wilderness. His truth is the truth. His instruction leads me to life!

Jesus has taught me that I need to do less wandering and more following.

Today, why not try wandering off less. Instead, focus on following Jesus. Walk with Jesus, and let him lead you to life!