Why I Don’t Pray

Read your Bible and pray everyday…
Pray every day…
Pray every day…
Read your Bible and pray everyday…
And you will grow grow grow.

So the children’s Sunday school song goes, and it is blessed, wonderful advice. I wish I had headed it growing up. I wish I headed it more. The song is true to its core. We will grow if we pray and study the word every day. Consider the giant of the faith George Müller, who sustained a ministry of the word and caring for tens of thousands of orphans for over 60 years, without any income, and without ever asking anyone for a single pence, (This was the 1800’s in Britain) but simply prevailed upon God in prayer to supply all of his needs, and the needs of his 2000 dependents and all the staff according to His great riches.

Such a life demonstrates the truth of James 5:16, “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (ESV)

And yet, I don’t pray. At least not near as often as I should.

But why don’t I pray? What is wrong with my heart that causes me not to pray, not to pour over the word on my knees in search of great promises to build my life on?

I offer some possibilities:

1. The Sin of Unbelief

I must be willing to admit that a big aspect is simply the sin of unbelief. I don’t trust God as I should. I am inclined to find so many other things to trust in before I trust in the living God. My job, my health, my church, my own abilities. How foolish this is! I must repent of my unbelief and turn to God in prayer.

2. The Sin of Pride

Clearly following from the first is something that undergirds my unbelief, which is my own self-sufficiency. If I could just work a little harder, if I could just do a little better, if I could just _____ then I would be ok, more at peace, happier,

I must remember that God hates the proud, (Proverbs 6:17) and God opposed the proud. (1 Peter 5:5, James 4:6)

I must remember that I really am insufficient for “such things”. Which brings me to point 3, what “such things”?

3. The Purpose To Which I am Orienting My Life

And by orienting my life, I mean today, when I wake up, what purpose am I engaged in? What am I to set about to do today? A life can’t be lived, only days, hours and moments. Right now, this instant what am I setting out to do?

Am I caught up in the pursuit of worldly pleasures and joys? A clean house, a fit body, a tasty meal. Is it a life lived inward seeking some happiness in trivialities?

Or is it a life lived Godward, seeking his glory and pleasure? Is it a life lived outward in love to neighbour, seeking his eternal joy together with mine in knowing God? This is the life of true happiness, for this is eternal life. (John 17:3)

If it is the latter, then it is clear that I am truly insufficient for “such things”. For if I am to know God, then I must first be known by God, (Gal 4:9, Rom 8:29) and if I am to see others come to know God, I must realize that I am nothing, but God is the one who gives the growth. (1 Cor 3:7)

And that brings us back to where we started, “Read your Bible and pray everyday, and you will grow grow grow.”

So for me it is clear I must repent of unbelief and pride, so integrally connected, but even deeper, I must be about the Lord’s work each and every day, fulfilling the purpose to which I was created: to glorify God and enjoy him forever. Then in realizing my absolute inability to accomplish such a purpose, perhaps I will turn to the the only two things I have at my disposal for such a task: the Word of God, and prayer.

Lord today, in this moment make me about the work to which you have called me, to so live and act as to magnify Christ by showing him to be an absolutely  sufficient treasure, so valuable it makes the treasures of this life appear as garbage in comparison, and complete my joy by bringing others into that enjoyment with me, by the power of your Spirit, in the name of your Son I pray.

Why You Exist

The Psalmist said:

One thing have I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to inquire in his temple. (Psalm 27:4)

At first glance we say, “David, that is 3 things! Dwell, gaze, and meditate (inquire). Learn to count!” But we should not dismiss David as mathematically inept. He did in fact grab 5 stones from the river before killing Goliath, as legend has it Goliath had 4 brothers.

But in fact this is indeed one thing… for the purpose of the dwelling and the meditating is to gaze. To look at the beauty of the Lord. We should hear the words of our Lord echoing David to Lazarus’ sisters:

But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42)

Mary chose to sit at the feet of Jesus, (the new “temple” of worship – John 4) and to gaze at his beauty. Is this not what Jesus also meant when he said to the rich young ruler:

 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” (Mark 10:21)

How sad that he did not respond to the love of God, but went away sad because he didn’t want to give up treasures on earth, for the most valuable treasure in heaven: the radiance of the glory of God! (Hebrews 1:3) Surely this is what Paul had discovered when God was pleased to reveal the Son to him (Galatians 1:16) in blinding light on the road to Damascus. (Acts 9:3) This is why he wrote:

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)

We know from verse 8 that his goal here is to attain Christ… Who is the exact representation of the Father. To see Christ is the very definition of salvation (2 Corinthians 4:6) because to see ultimate beauty is to be changed forever. Once you see God, why would you look to anything else?

And isn’t this what Philip was intuitively expecting to happen when he made his request of Jesus at the last supper? 

Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.”

To which Jesus responded (I think in a loving tone, not a rebuking tone…)

“Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? (John 14:8)

To see Jesus is to see the Father, because the Son is the radiance of the source, the exact imprint of the nature of the Father. (Hebrews 1:3) So David longed to see our day (Matthew 13:7) where by with the new faculty of spiritual sight given to us by the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:13), we can see the Son of the Father, and seeing him with unveiled faces, be transformed by him, from one degree of glory to another. (2 Corinthians 3:18). Thus when we ask God, as Moses did on Sinai, to “show us your glory”, God speaks (the Word – see John 1:1) and the content of that word is sovereign mercy and grace:

And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy. (Exodus 33:19)

And now that grace has appeared, bringing salvation for all people. (Titus 2:11) So again we see the fullness of God’s glory (his grace and mercy) expressed in the person of Jesus Christ.

So whoever is reading this, I beg you as the hymn says, to turn your eyes upon Jesus, and to look full, in his wonderful face. And I promise that the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace.

Thus the centre of the Christian faith can be defined in 3 simple words that sum up what this “one thing” is:

Look to Jesus

You can cry mercy all you want… but no one is listening…

You can cry mercy all you want… but no one is listening… It’s just you… Screaming into a void.
– Meredith Grey (Thursday Oct 3rd)

There is no hope in this world. There is only petty distractions, numbing “play”, fleeting-featherweight-fantasies. We are terrified of silence, blind to the eternal and dead to joy.

Meredith is right: There is no mercy, just the crushing dread of our mortality.

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Vanity… Continue reading

Do You Ever Justify Yourself?

At the heart of the Gospel, we have this very theological idea called “justification by faith alone”. What this means is that at our first moment of faith in Jesus Christ and his redemptive work on the cross, we are justified, made righteous and brought into right-standing with God.

I can honestly say that for most of my life this was an abstract concept that was an “entrance thing” into Christianity, which after receiving we move onto the big stuff, the important stuff. As in, “I have my justification, I’m good with God, now lets move on.” But little did I know, this idea is profoundly central to every thing we do, everyday.

See, we are always justifying ourselves in every little thing that we do…

It ranges from:
“I took the stairs today so I can have the cookie…” and, “Watching 3 hours of TV tonight isn’t so bad, because I work hard…”

All the way to:
“I can cheat on my spouse, because I’m not loved at home…” or, “I killed a man today in a mob hit, but it was defending my family’s honor, therefore it was a just act…”

But we have a problem:

I can always justify the things I do
But…
the things I do will never justify me.

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Is Jesus the Centre of Your Universe?

IS Jesus the centre of your universe?

Is He your defining principle, your main identity, your reason for living, what gets you out of the bed in the morning, your constant daydream, your every fantasy.

Is He your Lord, Savior and Treasure?

Because Jesus IS

…the centre of the universe.

Jesus IS the word of the power of God by which God spoke all things into being.

Jesus IS the radiance of God’s glory… The warmth and presence of God that extends from the source to manifest worlds, and God incarnate breaking into this world.

Jesus IS why this world was made, as all things were from Him and to Him and for Him.

Jesus IS the logos, the divine animating principle behind the world.

Jesus IS joy everlasting, peace beyond understanding, because of His righteousness imputed to sinners.

He is.

He is…

He IS!

Jesus IS the one who said believe in me, come to me, follow me, sell everything and die for me, for in me is life.

He IS the way
He is THE truth
He is the LIFE

So if He is not the centre of my universe…

Then I am living in my own universe…

John 18:6

The Kingdom Matrix

Jesus said: I am the way the truth and the life, no-one comes to the Father except by me.
Paul said the Kingdom of God is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Paul also said these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Way, Truth, Life
Righteousness, Peace, Joy
Faith, Hope, Love

How are these things connected? These are quite the set of lists… How about this?

Screenshot 2013-05-26 3:24 PM-3

Jesus is the only way to righteousness, and we are connected to that free gift of Grace through faith.
You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free. Freedom 55 (Retirment Planning)? How about freedom through eternal peace with God. That is quite a hope!
Isn’t life the greatest joy! And once we have a joy that is unshakeable, we are set free to love.

Thus meeting Jesus leads to the commandments:

Love God with every fibre of who you are. Delight and trust and abide in Him.
Seek others happiness with the fervour and creativity that you seek your own.

Because, the difference between God’s kingdom and the kingdoms of this world, is our king doesn’t need us, but graciously invites Him into what He is already doing in the world. Christ serves His kingdom and his world and then we get to join in service with Him with his power when He brings us into the kingdom.

I love the Bible… there is no greater intellectual challenge than the Jesus Problem. What are you going to do about Him?

Interesting side note: I made this diagram on Sunday, then on Monday I watched this:

The Gospel Coalition: Did Jesus Preach the Gospel?

I am blown away almost every day, by how God always brings in confirmation of what I am learning.

The 3 Things Everyone Wants that Only Christians Have

Seek ye first the kingdom!

Jesus said seek and you will find. We are to seek the kingdom of God.

So what is the kingdom? It’s not what we get to have for dinner tonight, or what were allowed to drink or not drink. It is…

Righteousness (Confidence)
Peace (Security)
Joy (Buoyancy)

The kingdom is a place of deep unshakeable happiness! And what is very interesting is that these three things are that which everyone is already seeking. Let’s see how:

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