Archive for July, 2012

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty*; walk before me and be blameless. Genesis 17:1

* Hebrew El-Shaddai

God demanded that Abram walk blameless. There’s one problem with this demand; it seems to be an impossible task.  Abram, like you and I, was born of Adam and therefore had this thing called “the flesh” that keeps a blameless life “at bay”. For many Christians, each morning begins with a prayer something like this: “Father, give me the strength to walk blameless before you today”. Then, before we’ve even left the house, we’ve lost that strength and fallen to some stupid self-serving sin. Where did that strength go? At this point one of two things happens:
We settle for defeat and fall into condemnation or we decide to “knuckle down” and try harder. We will read the Bible more, pray more, go to church more, and then we will be strong. THEN we’ll finally be able to walk blameless before the Lord.
And tomorrow’s prayer will begin the same as today’s.

There are two fundamental flaws with this daily “battle for blamelessness”,
First, you can’t “tinker” with your flesh and make it better. Paul wrote: “in my flesh dwells no good thing”. If you could “fix” your flesh, surely the author of 13 books of New Testament would have figured it out. His conclusion: “I die daily”. His solution was to die to his flesh; not try to fix it. He understood the flesh is irredeemable.  In fact, Paul went on to say,  “His strength is made perfect in our weakness”. I believe that’s exactly why God demanded blamelessness from Abram. God wanted to show him human strength was not up to the task of righteousness. It showed Abram just how weak he was.
Which brings us to the second flaw which manifests itself in our prayer for “more strength”.

We cannot ask for strength from the Lord.
Let me explain.
As with most names ascribed to God or given to Him by Himself, there is a deep meaning behind this title. The Hebrew name El Shaddai or God Almighty carries with it the implication of His “might”or strength, but there is an incredibly important nuance to this name. It does not mean that God possesses any strength. If He merely possessed strength He could dispense it to us like a gumball machine. But this name in Hebrew means God IS “all might” He doesn’t possess it, He embodies it! Therefore I cannot ask Him for more strength. I must come to Him in my weakness and ask for more of HIM! He doesn’t merely want to help me.  He wants to live His life through me. He wants to grow inside of me until I am a testament of HIS strength. That’s why the Scriptures teach us to “…be strong in the Lord and the power of HIS might”.

Our prayer should now be: “Live Your life through me today God. In my weakness be made strong. Lord, You BE my strength and make me blameless because only You can”.

How comforting to know that not just my salvation, but my sanctification is His gift. Everything God expects of me He will empower me to do.


Advice For “The Surrendered”

Well, here I am in the middle of the summer camp, conference, and mission season, and I find myself physically drained but my soul curiously refreshed.  I’m not only energized by the salvation I’ve seen “spring up from the ground” this summer, but also the amazing number of conversations I’ve had with people who feel they have been called by God to surrender to full-time ministry. (Over 20 and one altar call last week!) In fact, I feel as though I’m in the movie “Groundhog Day” because I’ve repeated the same dialogue with so many people in the past few weeks.

“How I’m I supposed to get started?”

“How do I know God’s will or if it’s His voice or my desire?”

Now there are no experts in the kingdom of God. That would imply that Christianity is a destination and not a journey. But, for the sake of time, and a horse voice, I submit the following thoughts gleaned from the many failures and a few successes in my own ministry:

1. God told Abraham, “go… To the land that I will show you.” This means you don’t have to know the final destination before you get started on the journey. Just do what He’s telling you now. He’s never in a hurry. You’ll know the details at the moment you need to know them.

2. Don’t get stuck in “analysis paralysis”. if you have to know the answer to every question along the journey you will not need faith. “Without faith it is impossible to please God.”

3. Remember that God is a “good Shepherd”. A shepherd leads his flock into a good pasture. He does not, then, tell the sheep which blade of grass to eat or which tree to sleep under. Many times God will lead you to a particular people group or country. Then God says: “What do you want to do here? The needs are many.” When you discover your own burden and your passion these will lead you to your vocation within that “pasture”. Then you’ll see that God gave you these and weaved them together with the rest of the body of Christ to fulfill His purposes. It’s amazing to watch that unfold.

4. If you want to hear Gods voice you have to remember His voice is “still” and “small”.  You’ll have to get really close to hear it. Lean in. Snuggle up for the whispers. As you listen, you’ll not only know the good from the bad but you begin to discern the “better” from the “best”.

5. Build God’s kingdom… Not your own. (Enough said.)

6. Risk everything for your calling. “I will not offer to God that which cost me nothing”

I hope this helps. Maybe I should put this in a pamphlet or just print it on a T-shirt. It would save a lot of time. 🙂

Please pray for our ministries the rest of the summer. It will take a lot of strength and wisdom to get there… wisdom that we     don’t have ourselves.




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