God, Our Local Church, and My Weakness

If you really want to know how skipping my time with the Lord affects me, just ask my wife. 

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Two Mondays ago, I had a horrible day. I was overwhelmed with the responsibilities on my plate between full-time PhD work and working the max amount of hours that my UK visa will allow. Some weeks, the demands take a toll and I feel it more than others. We currently attend a new Vineyard church plant in Edinburgh and our group (there are two) meets in a home on Monday nights (we don’t yet have a building). It has truly been a blessing. How the Lord led us to this church is a story in itself (that for another time).

On this particular Monday, I was so stressed that I simply felt angry. Men and women most often process stress in different ways. Women tend to get depressed and men tend to get angry. This is not true across the board, but I do find that there is some merit to the notion. By the time the afternoon rolled around, I did not want to go to church. I didn’t even care about the fact that I didn’t want to go. This just wasn’t the day for it. Surely the Lord understands. Another important factor is that Tuesdays are our family grocery day. Here in Edinburgh, if you spend a certain amount online, the groceries can be delivered to your doorstep for no additional fee. Amazing, right?!

Since it was Monday and we buy so many fresh fruits and vegetables, our fridge was not exactly overflowing with food. Our meal plan for the week actually included the Monday night meal at the church, so by this time in the week, we did not have much to make a meal with. So, in a very human moment, I decided that my family and I would go to church simply because I didn’t want to go to the store and buy more groceries.

Then God proved faithful. It feels almost impossible at times to distinguish between human weakness and demonic attack. Where is the line? I definitely am no expert. However, hindsight is 20/20. The Lord met me in such a wonderful way that night that I could not help but think after everything was said and done that maybe it was the enemy trying to keep me away. First of all,  a young man shared a word that God had laid on his heart regarding a man in the room. It was for me. Wow, was it for me. Secondly, our pastor showed the video, Bill Hybels – Coffee with God, and it absolutely cut through to my heart. I really hope you will take ten minutes to watch the video. The video was all about having a predetermined time and place with the Lord. 26331-ThinkstockPhotos-122563300.1200w.tnDue to the load I had been feeling as of late, it had become all too easy to skip my time with the Lord for one, two, even three days at a time. If you really want to know how skipping my time with the Lord affects me, just ask my wife.

I went to church that night because of the meal that was provided. That is it. I didn’t expect anything from God. The church was in position to meet a basic need for my family that evening. So, we went. However, Daddy God is merciful, “for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust” (Psalms 103:14). The older I get, the more convinced I am that people who care nothing for the church are going to miss out on so much of what God has for them (both to receive and give). I am to the point now that if a person doesn’t care much about the church, I view it as strong evidence in most cases that something is seriously flawed in that individual’s self-proclaimed relationship with Christ. 

We need each other. We need others to help us touch God when we feel all-too-human. And then we need to return the favor…on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. 

 

 

 

 

Be Direct With Jesus

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Matthew 20:30-34 NIV
Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” [31] The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” [32] Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. [33] “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.” [34] Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.

This was the passage in my Jesus time reading this morning. As I get older, it is the simple things that seem to knock at my heart more than anything else. This includes simple statements. Jesus responds to desperation. He did here. It is not shocking that the religious, sophisticated, well-ordered crowd told them to shut up. But we all know what it is like to be SO desperate that you stop caring. You keep crying out. The pain, the longing, the dream, the prayer, the heartache, is simply too deep and strong to silence. So they kept crying out.

I like how Jesus did not walk up to them and just heal them. He respectfully asked the two men what it was that they wanted. I heard a joke once that if Jesus had walked up to two Baptists and asked this question, they would have asked for a seeing eye dog. Corny, but kind of funny. But let’s not pick on the Baptist too much. How many Christians would have answered the same way, or, simply beat around the bush with some insecure rant masked in false humility?

Here is what I took from these two guy’s simple response: Be direct with Jesus. Go ahead and shoot straight with Him. He can handle it.

Psalm 62:8 NKJV
Trust in Him at all times, you people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah

Now, one word of caution before I end. Being direct with Jesus is not a spiritual practice to be implemented only in rough times. It must be the language of your heart, the way you relate to Daddy in Heaven. It is sad that we are most direct when times are hard, when we are angry with God, when we are extremely disappointed with how something turned out, or when we are about to throw in the towel.

Be direct with Jesus about the dreams in your heart.

Be direct with Jesus about the dreams that you once thought were from Him and now are not so sure.

Be direct with Jesus about your desire for a wife/husband.

Be direct with Jesus about how you the seasons and timing questions of your heart.

Be direct with Jesus about the areas you are disappointed.

Be direct with Jesus about the risks/adventures you are wanting to take that do not seem that spiritual but sound like a lot of fun.

Be direct with Jesus about the areas you want to go for it but are wondering if He might not be for it for some reason.

Be direct with Jesus about the areas you want the Holy Spirit to transform you.

Be direct with Jesus about your sin.

Be direct with Jesus about laying out a Gideon-type fleece.

Be direct with Jesus about something He did not do that you thought He was going to do, i.e. an area of confusion.

Sit down. Be still. Be quiet. And be direct with Jesus. It touches His heart.

Indirectness is a waste of everybody’s time.