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What to Do When You’re Far from God – Monday Morning Momentum Minute

Meet Jonah, Meet You
     Last month, I had an opportunity to think out loud with some men about Jonah and his journey. Short book, but poignant. Jonah had an assignment, given directly to him by the mouth of God. But, he tried the impossible – he ran from God. Now, as a father of three toddlers and a teen, a husband of one wife, and a personal pastor to more than a dozen men, I feel the pull of trying to be in more than one place at a time. Imagine the futility of trying to run from a God who is everywhere at once?

And, yet, he ran.

     Whether Jonah was trying to run from an omnipresent God or just the mission before him, he ran.

And, so do you. And, so do I.

Spotting the Lies
     As I listened to the men around the room it became clear that we’ve all pulled a Jonah from time to time. The question was before us – “what line of thinking have you followed to talk yourself into doing what you want rather than obeying God?” Pride took many colorful shapes and sizes. Here are a few:

  1. “This is too small.” Either God had called a man to do something so simple, it seemed insignificant (“regular or unleaded?”). So, why would I obey that? God wanted me to pat someone on the back, let someone off the hook, skip a meal, take the neighbor’s teenager out for breakfast, whatever. And, now there’s a void in my soul because I know I left something undone… it feels like there’s… space… between you and God.
  2. “But, I’d rather do X.” How many times have you wanted to just veg out in front of some mindless TV before bed, when you know God was calling you to read the word to know something new about Him, read the word to your kids, read them a bedtime story, or just pray with your spouse? As you look back on what you spent that time on, you feel… estranged from God.
  3. “I was just following orders.” One guy shared the tension he felt over having shot men to death in Vietnam, all the while knowing God commanded us not to murder. Decades later, he still carries the guilt and shame. How often have we feared man rather than the God who created all men? It’s as if God’s voice were strained and far off while the voices of men were painfully close.
  4. “God will forgive me.” Many argue to this day that we are under grace, not law. They are correct when this is applied to salvation. However, does obedience play any part in our lives? I have two words for you: “Ananias” and “Sapphira”.

     Or course, this is not an exhaustive list. But, the pattern the Lord revealed to me as I listened to the men around the room is this: we disobey God for one of two reasons: either we minimize the call He has given us or the consequences of disobedience. Minimizing the consequences says “I am more able than God to control/withstand outcomes.” Minimizing the call says “I know better than God/God clearly doesn’t see this with clear enough eyes.”

The Truth
     Jesus taught in the parable of the talents that when we are faithful with little, we prove our eligibility for greater responsibility. “This is too small” is not only a lie, but a barrier to moving forward in our assignment from God.

     At any given moment, I can think of a dozen things I’d rather be doing… in the flesh. But, we are called to live by the Spirit (read Romans 8 exhaustively). So, there’s another lie to cast down – what I want to do and what I ought to do must be parsed, constantly.

     Fear of man will prove to be a snare… (Proverbs 29:25) … but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe. Understanding “safe” is important – it doesn’t mean we might not get fired by someone who commands us to do evil – they may be bent on evil and not to be turned around. Consider Pharaoh or Potipher’s wife or even Eli’s sons.

     The most important word in the Gospel is this: repent. Turn around in your mind and head back to God. Repent. Repent. Repent. Yes, we are under grace. But, we are called to obedience nonetheless. Prohibitions against premarital sex, lying, murder, envy, and all other forms of disobedience are not nullified because of the cross. They are merely “covered”. There is an eternal price to be paid for disobedience, of which we’ve talked before – forfeiture of eternal rewards, in part or in whole. See 2 Cor. 5:10.

     Here is our call – fear God and obey His commands. When we sin, repent – let’s be sure to quickly and sincerely change our minds and agree with God that what we did was wrong. And, then, experience His grace, forgiveness, and mercy. More importantly, restore ourselves to fellowship with the God of the universe, who invites us to call Him, “Father”.

Be Encouraged
     The death of Ananias and Sapphira was the exception, not apparently the rule – otherwise the church at Corinth would have all been dead after Paul’s first letter, for example. Grace is available, but it doesn’t shield us from the consequences of sin, only the judgment against it. God offers great freedom, love, and forgiveness, but also a massive eternal 401K to those who overcome, obey, and repent. May you retire a bizillionaire to your Father’s house to hear the words “well done, good and faithful servant”!

AP

Announcement – Rabbi Jonathan Cahn Transcript Delay

Yesterday, we promised to release part 1 of the transcript of the Jonathan Cahn keynote speech today. But, on further review, it makes no sense to publish it in parts. I’m 2/3 of the way through it and will do all I can to publish it Tuesday, during the day. It’s a long one, but well worth the read.

Much agape,
AP

Only $6,500 to Go and GREAT NEWS!!!

He Reigns… He Provides
      Every month, it’s the same thing – God does wild, eleventh hour stuff to shock us with His care and understanding of our provision as a ministry and a family. This month is no different, except the shock level is a little higher. While incoming year end support seemed to trickle in slowly and matching funds began to wane, God used a few, key people to shift the tide:

     Today, we stand about $6,500 from meeting the most basic support needs… Inches from the finish line. Better than that, we now have about $2,500 in matching funds to help make your giving go farther. Rather than clog everyone’s inbox with moment to moment updates, I’m simply going to put it out there on the blog and Facebook a couple more times over the next two weeks just to keep people “in the know” regarding where we’re at.

Asking Specific, Asking Big
     While the total need above is “most basic support needs”, that contains a lot of smaller parts. Included in this number are “parts” like phone and internet (<$80/month combined), fuel and mileage ($400), postage $48 per quarter, secure post office fee ($240 for the year of 2013), Constant Contact email service - reaching 400 readers (about $196 for 2013), Speak Life - marriage conference scholarship ($300) for 4 couples in need of a "tune up"/marriage tweaks.      On top of that, I’m going to take a strange step out and ask big – I don’t believe we’re here to just “finish the year at ‘basic needs funded’ “. I believe we’re here to make an impact on more men and marriages this year than ever. I believe we’re here to do more than just “break even”. I’d like to give you an opportunity to participate in that kind of life change by bringing this ministry from 40% to 80% to 100% funded.     Would you consider joining us in support, starting January 2013, as a $25 supporter, $100 supporter, or even “board level” at $200? To Support Online Using our Secure Online Giving Portal:
Monthly Support:

One Time Support:

To support by check, make your check payable to Seasons of Life Ministries and mail to:
Seasons of Life Ministries
2659 Freedom Parkway
Suite 285
Cumming, GA 30041

Thanks, and Merry Christmas!!!

AP

Before and After the Altar – 5 Things You Should Know About Marriage

Why the Election Was Rigged from the Start

18 The wrath of GodE)’>(E) 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made,G)’>(G)
21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.I)’>(I) 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for imagesK)’>(K) in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.M)’>(M) and worshiped and served created thingsO)’>(O) Amen.Q)’>(Q) to shameful lusts.S)’>(S) 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.U)’>(U) to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips,W)’>(W)

2 Cor. 11.2
For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy…”

2 Tim. 3.1-5 

God must instruct and discipline us.

God has many roles, one is as a thief – where He takes away from us to discipline us. But, it’s unnecessary loss!!!

Stop Doing Your Quiet Time

Those Who Walked with God
     Eve walked in the garden with God. Do you get much closer than that? Moses entered the tabernacle, saw God’s shoulder blade, and caught a case of “incandescent face” because he was in the presence of God. Solomon was brutally honest and humble with God that above power and riches, he’d need wisdom to rule God’s people – and received all three for that purpose.

     All three had incredible responsibilities for God and all three have been recorded in scripture as having a few major failures on their performance reviews. Moses was denied entry into the promised land, Solomon led the nation of Israel astray, and Eve… Eve, Eve, Eve…

     I don’t know what you’re called to, how much responsibility you have, or how closely you’ve walked with God, but I doubt anyone reading this post has more on the line than any of those three. I doubt anyone reading this post has a more direct connection with God than them, unless they have the Holy Spirit dwelling in them… Ooops… You get the point…

Those Who Walk with God & “QTG”
     We not only have the Spirit of God in us, but we have the full, inerrant, inspired written revelation to go back and refer to, which none of the above had… So, what’s the problem? QTG… The biggest source of embarrassment when I sit down and talk with guys weekly is “Quiet Time Guilt” or QTG:

  • I haven’t been in the word as much as I would like to…
  • I’ve been kinda… busy… this week.
  • Well, I’m kind of all over the place in my reading… But, I wish…

     It’s as if they (by they, I mean we; and, by we, I also mean me…) have a painful, throbbing case of “Gotta do my quiet time again” that flares up every time they look in the mirror.

Stealing Our Excuses & The Bait and Switch
     Every time I read the stories of Eve, Moses, and Solomon, I get this sort of “righteous indignation” and almost shout at my Bible: “You had personal experiences with God that most people would kill for – What were you thinking?!?!” Eve got to walk with God, Moses was chosen to lead Israeal out of Egypt, Solomon was born into nobility and somewhere along the line, they took God for granted… What do you think they might say if they read my story, though? Me, a bought-and-paid-for follower of Christ filled with the Holy Spirit, given the full canon of scripture…

    The issue at the heart of QTG is that somewhere along the line our “get to” has gotten infected with “have to” and our guilt gland has gone into overdrive. Do we ever imagine Eve waking up in the morning thinking, “Oh, dread, have to walk through a beautiful garden today with the Sovereign of the Universe again…”? I know Moses had justifiable beef with the stiff necked people he was in charge of, but did he ever approach the tent of meeting and think “Sheesh… Gotta go talk to the Lord, again. What a drag.”? After all that Solomon wrote, can you ever picture him saying “Another boring revelation from the Creator of all that is seen and unseen.”?

Upping the Ante – Trading in the Guilt
     Make no mistake, there should be a sense of urgency – if Eve walked with God and failed miserably to defend direct revelation to Satan, Moses saw God’s glory and still disobeyed, and Solomon got wisdom, riches, and power from God but still married foreign wives, multiplied horses, and gold and wound up worshiping rival gods – who are you and I to think we’ve got a snowball’s chance in hell without constant contact with the Word of Truth?

     Look, it’s a war out there. There is a battle for our hearts and minds no different than the competition Solomon fell prey to when he took a thousand wrong turns with foreign women and their gods – we’d better be in the word, right?

Freedom from the Swelling

   Yet, we must not allow our guilt gland to be overrun by the lie that Quiet Time is another chore to be added to the list, another thing to be “done”. Today, we have the stories of these three and many others to remind us that they got to walk with God, they got to enjoy His presence, and we get to, too. Furthermore, knowing that it’s a battle, we can cling to the word out of a guiltless “have to” and a grateful “get to” as we would a life raft in choppy seas following the sinking of the Titanic. How much guilt does a soldier have when the siren blares and he and his platoon run off to the chopper, the tank, or the Hum-V and it comes time to grab his rifle? Is he “too busy” to throw it over his shoulder? No, it’s my rifle and I must, I get to, I will bring it with me!

   Find any refreshment there? Yeah, me, too.

   Pray, today, that the Helper, the para-kletos comes along side you and I and ups our urgency to get in and stay in the Word not out of guilt or obligation, but out of crucial battle-readiness and love for the Lord whose presence is in us. Thank Him for the scriptures – worshiping the God of the Word, not the Word of the God. Let’s stop DOING our quiet time and embracing our lifeline to the Savior with freedom and confidence.

Soli Deo Gloria

AP

How to Avoid Consequences

Don’t sin.

Hello world!

Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!

Unclutter and Slay the Beast!

Call. Ask. Read. Pick up. Reply. Go to.

Action words, right?

     I use these words everyday because David Allen told me I had too many “non action words” on my “action list” and “non action words” don’t help your brain, they just make you scratch your head in wonder. Bookmark that thought. We’ll come back to it.

Ever have 1,100+ emails in
your inbox?  Beastly.

     A few years ago, I looked at my inbox and it had over 1,100 items in it and I would nearly get a headache just looking at the computer screen because… well, where do you start with 1,100 emails? My inbox extended probably 50 screen lengths and had become a woeful Beast that would stare me down from the moment I fired up my computer.
     Since I read David Allen’s Getting Things Done, I’ve been able to get my inbox to empty two to three times a week. Caveat: “been able to” and “have done” are definitely two different matters, but I can recall uttering the words “free at last” more than once over these years, simply because I knew the impossible could be done, and I’d seen it happen at least once myself.
    Today, I exclusively run Microsoft Outlook because it has rules that automatically re-route 80% of my incoming mail into simple, categorized folders and keeps my inbox nearly clutter-free. Can you imagine the freedom I feel every time I sit down at my inbox to see that it’s less than one screen long? No longer did I worry about getting pulled away from my desk by an “important” telemarketer’s phone call or a dirty diaper (hey, when you work from home 50% of the time or more that’s a clear & present danger…)

     When I first grasped the concept of what sin really is and the fact that I could sin in my mind without taking any external {Call. Ask. Read. Pick up. Reply. Go to.} action, it was as if I had suddenly sat down in front of that computer again to face

Stop Counting Your Blessings – Monday Morning Momentum

Deep Cleaning…

     When I waited tables, I remember the reason I was there most days was to make money. Yes, over time you grow to love the business and the people, but you do have to pay the rent, right? This is why it would frustrate the heck out of me when management would make the waitstaff clean the joint. Wiping down windows and walls… Deep cleaning tea urns… Polishing silverware and brass fixtures… pain in the neck.

     Ever polish or deep clean something? Never noticed how dirty it was before that, right? (“Won’t this stuff just come off?!“) Ever look at it when you’re done and think – “Wow, that looks a whole lot better”? Then, someone comes barreling around the corner with a mess in their hands and you kind of guard your well polished treasure… “You must not tarnish my precious!!!

     Deep cleaning things frustrates me almost as much as fake platitudes, especially people who quip scripture at you when you’re having a hard time. “God works all things for the good… Count your blessings…”

Shut it, preacher.

     For this reason, I stopped counting my blessings years ago and I’m recommending you do so, too. Yes, I’ll explain. But, first, a word or two from scripture:

     “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven… a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them. (Ecc. 3.1,5a)
     “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Gal 6.9)”

     Stones had a lot of uses in the Old Testament culture, one was to mark occasions and events, like the 12 stones set at the Jordan River when Joshua led the nation across on dry land. The goal of having those stones there was not so that they could be counted. The goal of having those stones there was so the nation of Israel could remember God’s miracle and faithfulness as He ushered them into the promised land with supernatural fanfare. If I were one of those Israelites who saw the previous generation die off in the desert and then watched the Jordan river pile up in heaps while 2-3 million of us crossed over with the Ark of the Testimony, I’d probably go back from time to time and polish those stones, telling my kids and grandkids how crazy it was to see not just a sea part, but a rushing river stop in its tracks!!!

     A few years ago, Cristine and I were struggling with some tough issues and people in our life. It seemed though we were doing what God called us to do and standing for His truth, we were encountering harsh resistance from people who should have been cheering us on. We were truly “wear in doing good”. My mentor gave us incredibly practical and helpful advice – “time to start polishing up some of the monuments og God’s faithfulness in your life.”

Be Encouraged

    While temptation begs us to believe that if God is empowering us to do something, it’ll be easy-breezy. While God may call and empower us to climb a mountain with a 500 lb pack, He might help lighten the load, but it doesn’t mean we won’t be achy and out of breath at the summit. Weary can come with doing good. We must not lost perspective by ignoring the monuments of His faithfulness, much less minimizing them by only tallying them up. Counting blessings gives glory to God, but how much more when we pause for a moment or a season and examine every curve, chink, and line in the stone set up in remembrance? How much greater is our context and appreciation during strife when we think of the minute, clear detail of the miracles God has performed in the past.

Benediction

     May we not stop short by merely counting our blessings. May we pause and think back to the great, awesome details of God’s faithfulness in our past, even our present. May we not grow weary in doing good. Yet, if we do, if we become tarnished by the gunk of life and doing good in a broken world, let us be refreshed by God as He restores us to the joy of His salvation. May we reap a harvest in due time because by His power, we did not give up.

Much agape to ya.

AP