No matter how much Oedipus and his parents try to foil the oracle, what Apollos has determined for him cannot be avoided: he is destined to kill his father and marry his mother. And then for such a heinous crime, he is to be punished, as determined by the “gods” — even though he is an unwilling victim of gods’ predetermined will.
By contrast, the Christian God grants ample room for human decision. You can realize a great destiny of blessing, happiness and even ministry if you decide to serve God. If you choose fleshliness over and over, however, you will lose blessings of God in your life both now and in the afterlife.
There are no pawns of fate in Christianity but each man falls prey of his own bad decisions.
If you pray, you change the future.
Art from Zach Smithson on Deviant Art. I don’t own the rights to this picture, and I’m not making any money on it.
In the Middle Ages, if you REALLY wanted to serve God, you went off to a cave where you could be touched by no worldly temptations and lived with no human contact.
While there is value to the contemplative life of prayer, true Christian service is rendered unto needy humans. Jesus congratulates some for feeding the hungry, the sick, the imprisoned, for giving clothes to the poor. They are incredulous. They don’t remember doing this to Jesus: Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?
Jesus responds: Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me. — Matt. 25:37-40 NIV.
Jesus inseparably identifies himself not with the pope, not with the saint, not with the pastor, but with the poor and abject.
There are all kinds of needs. There are suicidal kids, dying marriages, gospel-ignorant peoples. The picture is of remote modern hermits in Ethiopia who follow the the hermit model. I don’t criticize anyone’s efforts to serve Christ. I’m sure they’re making an impact in the world through prayer. But I wish to say here: Serving PEOPLE of any need is serving Jesus.
We face innumerable failures and disappointments in life. Youth sometimes can’t see beyond the momentary difficulties and turn to cutting. It’s important to conceptualize a brighter day ahead.
Maybe you’ve been down and out for years and years. Maybe it was not all your fault, or maybe mostly it was. No matter. God has a brighter future for you. Seek Him and wait patiently.
Failure and disappointments are NOT a final destination. They are the waystation towards success. Don’t stay there. Keep moving. Bonanza lies ahead.
Don’t agonize over whether you have enough faith to receive an answer from God. Just keep praying because all you need is a tiny amount of faith. Just enough to go to prayer.
Worship contains a paradox: When you lift up God, He lifts you up. If you’re down in the dumps, rise to praise, and God will raise you up.
Four guys from LA, young guys, rebels who have turned to God, went to Guatemala believing they could possibly be used. What happened at the Door Church in Guatemala was extraordinary: people were healed, faith was restored, forgiveness came back between brethren.
And I’m happy. That was the church God used me to raise up. I was troubled by some negative trends happening there now in my absence. God used Arti Cedillo, a former Satanist, to preach. Pastor Steven Fernandez, a former street thug, was their guide and body guard. Junior Cervantez, a former graffiti artist, and Johnny Huerta, a former partier, went along for the fun of it and wound up making a great spiritual impact also.
Junior was skate-boarding the the marijuana-smokers who frequent the church’s street in front. Johnny bought McDonald’s for all the kids one night, a treat so rare because of poverty it’s usually reserved for only for a kid’s birthday.
Arti said when he got back: We felt your prayers literally pushing us forward. And that’s how I was reminded of the power of prayer.
All day long every day. Are you reachable?
As soon as you ping God, you’ll get a quick and strong response. He’s waiting for you to cry out to him. You think nobody sees, no one knows. He has been stretching His arms out to you all day long. You have not known. Ask Him if He’s real, if He’s there. He’ll wrap you up in His arms.
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! — Phil 4:4 NIV.
Now she’s 18.
We were missionaries in Guatemala where they don’t really celebrate Halloween. One year our annual Bible conference coincided with Halloween, so Rebekah, then 10, got to go door-to-door trick-or-treating for the first time. It happened to be immediately upon arrival. She was young enough to not remember the previous years.
The next day, she asked, “Can we go door-to-door again and get more candy?”
Rebekah thought that everyday in the United States, kids go door-to-door and gather candy. It’s just a normal part of everyday American life. Because she couldn’t remember the previous year’s experiences, she didn’t realize we didn’t do that the year before.
We ought to come to church expecting candy every time. God has a treat for us if we want it. If you come to church miserable, you’ll probably go home empty-handed. God wants to delight you every time.
Pic from gratitude-alittlegoesalongway.blogspot.com. I don’t own the rights to this image, nor am I making any money on it.
No sooner was the cupbearer freed from jail than he forgot his promise to help Joseph, who had interpreted his dream. Joseph had been imprisoned under false accusation. God was with nevertheless, even though the cupbearer forgot his debt for Joseph’s interpretation of the dream that Pharaoh would free him.
TWO YEARS LATER, Pharaoh has a dream that none of his sorcerers can interpret. Only then does the cupbearer remember his faults and tells Pharaoh about Joseph, who is promptly freed, washed, shaved and ushered into Pharaoh’s presence. He interprets Pharaoh’s dream, and his fortunes are changed.
Sadly, most of us fall in with the cupbearer. God has given us so many good things, and we don’t want to remember or acknowledge our debt of gratitude to Him.
He asked for a handout. Peter gave him a healing.
Expecting to get some money, the crippled temple beggar directed his attention to Peter and John. Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk, Peter said in Acts 3:6 NIV.
He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God — Acts 3:8 NIV.
He got MUCH more from God than he expected.
Why do we downsize our prayers? Why down scale down our faith?
God is NOT:
- offended if we ask big.
- unable to give.
- displeased by too much faith.
- upset by our audacity.
- budgeting his company.
- on a diet Himself.
- scrimping to make ends meet.
- requiring coupons.
To the contrary, we are ordered to move mountains, not molehills.
Larry Page, the leader of Google, tells his employees that every product they make must be 10X better than the competition. Next on the list of things for Google: self-driving cars, wearable computers, mapping the human race’s DNA code. He’s eternally dissatisfied, and that drives him to pursue greater heights. Mediocrity and modest gains be damned. Shoot for the moon.
As Christians, we should have vision and dream big. What is keeping us from bigger things? Many times our own scaled-down vision. Read more about Larry Page. It inspired me.
Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them. — Mark 11:23 NIV.
To prevail, pray.
No one wishes for dirt, but out of the mire of life comes gold.
Your soul is gold. Joy is gold. Treasure comes from troubles. Don’t bewail the travails your currently passing. You can’t get gold unless you get into the dirt.
They departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. — Acts 5:41 KJV
Peter and disciples had just been arrested for preaching Jesus. The Sanhedrin whipped them and warned them to stop. Threats and beatings are what made them rejoice.
Are you suffering for Christ? Take heart. That is what the disciples did. They didn’t get discouraged. They didn’t ask, “Why, God?” They praised God for the difficulties and dug in. They prayed for strength to continue.
Don’t give up, if you are fighting the good fight. Rejoice for the opposition, for the reverses, for the trials. Things appear to be spiraling out of control. In reality, God has everything under control and will work it all out in ways you can’t imagine.
What do you mean no one wants to listen to you?
I have been waiting for years for you to talk to Me.
Defeating England, Luis Suarez hammers a ball in. I don’t own the rights to this photo, and I’m not making any money on it.
Give him a ball in front of the net, and Luis Suarez makes the goal.
Actually, two of them. The Uruguayan ace headed one goal and slammed home a second to oust England, the vaunted authors of modern soccer, out of the World Cup this past week. The highest goal-scorer in the English Premier League this season, seemingly doesn’t fail.
What a smile! I don’t own the rights to this photo, and I’m not making any money on it.
Not every forward is a sharp-shooter of this caliber. Most are about 50%. Suarez does it all. He’s fast. He possesses a potent kick. He’s physical. He utilizes creative play. He maintains possession. He’s got my vote for best striker worldwide. Get a ball to him anywhere near the area, and it’s an assured goal.
If you like winning, you’ll want to have
Suarez Jesus on your team. In fact, many Christians are losing the game. Why? Because they have possession of the ball.
WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH THE BALL? PASS IT TO JESUS.
Passing the ball to Jesus is called prayer.
At the California Science Center in Los Angeles, you can pick up a pickup truck. A small child can pull on a rope many yards out pulling a lever down. At the other end of the fulcrum, hanging on a shorter side of the lever, is the truck. It’s a thrill for kids to feel like Superman.
Prayer works like leveraging.
In finances, if you can manage to invest loaned money to make more money than you own on the interest, you can be fabulously wealthy. You don’t have any $. You take others’ $, invest it with brains, and then you get loads of $$$.
Prayer works like that. It multiplies your meager efforts and magnifies your impact. Prayer accomplishes what is humanly impossible.
When I was a pastor/missionary in Guatemala, we went from the ghetto to the Historic Center, four blocks away from the National Palace. We went from preaching on the bus to housing a thriving school and church. God did it. I prayed.
At the Lighthouse, even such hardened rivals as UCLA-USC love each other and live in harmony.
We are heading to Guatemala and expect to see miracles in the healing crusade. So please put your mustard seed faith into a prayer for the Door Church in Guatemala and your servant.
Much love, Mike
Dr. Bob Hamilton has done medical missions in Africa for years, and finally I’m going. If the mustardseedbudget.wordpress.com has ever blessed you, then please pray God raises up $3,000 for air fare, hotel, food, visas, immunizations, etc. The trip is March 27 to April 6.
I have written in the capacity as a journalist about these medical missions before (a 3-part series that starts here), and now I want to report firsthand in support of this awesome ministry. Thanks for your prayers!
Oh yeah, you can read about the Lighthouse medical missions on its website here.
Stop striking out in anger and calling people “rebels.” It won’t bring any good. Instead, pray.
Moses brought 40 years of ministry to a depressing demise because he acted out of frustration instead of faith. “Speak to the Rock!” God had told him. “And the waters will gush out for their thirst in this dry desert.”
Instead, Moses struck the Rock with his staff. And he called the people “rebels.” He upbraided them and appropriated the miracle to himself instead of giving God the credit.
As a result, waters came out and the people quenched their thirst. But Moses wasn’t allowed to to into the Promised Land. He was deprived of the crown jewel to complete his ministry. He was cut off from the flourish finish. In short, he was cut short, and 40 years of effective ministry became ineffective.
Such a disappointing denouement is a high-pitched warning to those of us who want to persevere in ministry. Did he just burn out? Did he stop believing in prayer?
The New Testament identifies the “Rock” as Jesus. Did Moses lash out at God because “one more trial” was a critical mass for him? It is sobering to think. Let’s stick with prayer and faith and avoid frustration.
I needed to remember this.
A $1 padlock like this one saved us!
My brother made fun of us when he visited our mission church in Guatemala. Too many padlocks, he moaned.
But one extra little padlock saved us from getting completely robbed.
The thieves sawed through an iron bar to enter at the window probably at 2 a.m. They served themselves leftover coffee and ate breads. They were in no hurry. Guatemalan police are overrun with crime and work fewer shifts at night. No neighbors would interfer; they could get shot for that.
Sweet reunion with the much-loved Pastor Alex
They took our keyboard and a few other things. But one small padlock on the outside of the door kept them from walking off with our school’s computers. I
Faith, Pastor Steven’s daughter.
guess they ran out of time because the $1 Chinese padlock was no formidable security. What they took had to fit out the upstairs window.
Sometimes, it’s the itty bitty things that save you. That little prayer — unaccompanied by fasting, with no fancy language — will make the difference. Don’t skip it thinking it’s a mere nothing. However short it may be, however unadorned, speak it to God with sincerity. That small “cheapo” prayer may be the single factor preventing the thief (the devil) from running off with everything.
Posted in how to pray?
Tagged Bible prayers, Christianity, Faith, God, how do I pray?, how to pray?, Jesus, life, lifestyle, ministry, pray, prayer, prayers of the Bible
Photo courtesy of Imprezzme.blogspot.com
- How to pray?
- Prayers from the Bible
- Prayer optimization
from Christianity Matters blog
Recently, a close friend was broken. His ex was possibly dying from cancer, and even though she was an ex, heart strings were tugged. He came with me to prayer and poured out his heart to God asking for her healing. She’s better now. God answered from grace. Even though God answered, my friend still is not coming to church for gratitude, for commitment, for anything.
from cloud lounge blog
God’s grace is the greatest thing. You don’t earn salvation, and He doesn’t deny your prayer request just because you’re not attending church. You cannot earn a positive response from God.
But it seems to me like we’re not optimizing our prayer life when we treat God only as 911. We call Him only in emergency. It seems to me that we actually optimize our prayers when we serve Him faithfully. It’s an insult to God when we treat Him as unimportant 364 days out of the year and only remember Him on the one day we have a crisis. Still, He answers out of His grace, not out of our merits (because even when we’re somewhat faithful, we have not merits).
from blue pueblo blog
I don’t pretend to fully understand this. I’m only describing a tension that deserves to be rectified. There’s no mathematical formula for when you will get an answer and when not. God’s grace overrides any formula.
Maybe the best way to describe this is to say, treating God only as an Emergency Service in Heaven, is not cool. How to pray? Don’t be uncool.
Posted in how to pray?
Tagged Bible prayers, Christianity, Faith, God's love, grace, how to pray?, inspiration, Jesus, life, lifestyle, prayer, spirituality
- Power of prayer
- How to pray?
My son Robert, on the precipice of power on the Canadian Falls.
Emerald water look like thick glass, inviting tourists to dip a toe — or even take a swim. The alluring beauty of Niagara Falls belies its power — 6 million cubic feet flows in an irresistible current every minute over the crest. One-hundred-and-sixty-five feet below, as it pounds into the whirling pool, it raises a relentless thunder and mists that bathes people for 100 yards away.
Water leaping from the heights pounds the poor below, raising mists over 200 feet into the air, drenching tourists. Note the boat at the bottom that fits 200 passengers.
Behind the beauty lies true power.
Many look at prayer as a beautiful thing. They fail to perceive its weight of crushing power. Nations have been overturned. Darkness has ceded to radiant light. The onward rush of worldliness has been diverted, the press of sin blunted. Why? Because of prayer.
Oh look! How beautiful! She prays!
To the contrary, look, how powerful: she prays.
In a material world where we are taught to measure scientifically with our five senses, we can forget entirely the unmeasurable life-changing power of prayer. Just because a prayer experiment would be impossible (with one group that receives prayer and the other that does not), we tend to dismiss it.
Where science leaves off, faith picks up and continue to describe the reality of our multi-faceted existence. Pray today! Effect change. Don’t miss the power behind the beauty of prayer.
How to pray? Bible prayers.
People think prayer is talking. It is also listening. Don’t be surprised if God talks back to you. After all, communication, if it is to be communication, is a two-way street.
Three times, young Samuel went to the Priest Eli because the elder called. Three times, Eli told Sammy to go back to bed. He hadn’t called. Then, Eli understood: It was God calling Samuel. This was the beginning of ministry for Samuel. He hadn’t recognized the voice of God because he was unaccustomed (1 Samuel 3).
At Bible conference in Tucson.
Our church just finished a 40 day fast. We didn’t fast all food. We fasted something. Some fasted Facebook. I fasted sugar.
The incredible thing was God spoke. He told to start afresh. He told me to clean the slate. Through the 40 days, He restored relationship with some people in the church. I’m glowing with elation. I want to keep fasting sugar, and keep hearing from God. It has been a time of restoration.
Breakfast before the Bible conference.
How to pray? When was the last time you heard from God (or maybe never)? Believe it or not, God is actually wanting to talk to you. Can you take a break from the electronic devices long enough to listen?
How to recognize the voice of God?
- Don’t expect a booming voice.
- It will never contradict scripture.
- It will never authorize your sin.
- It will probably come straight from scripture.
- The effect will be to align you with His will.
- God doesn’t foretell the future. He tells you to trust and what to do.
So the next time you bend the knee, slow down the “blah blah blah” for a moment and tune in your ear. How to pray? Happy listening!
El Niño Torres scored an unheard-of four goals against Tahiti in the Confederations Cup, and I was happy. Lately he’s been underperforming, and lynchmob of critics has persecuted him. They’ve even mocked him for being a nice guy, a decent human being (Maybe they Luis Suarez better, the Uruguayan racist who also bites opponents.)
James Lebron led the Heat to the NBA comeback final victory, and I was happy. He has been unjustly criticized for choking in finals, for betraying his first team, even for his skinny teams. They trash-talk him.
Tim Tebow talks Christianity, and they shut him up. Collins talks homosexuality, and it´s national news. He’s a hero.
I think people despise the nice guy because the nice guy makes them feel like bad guys — by comparison. Thus, the rant, the hate, the cackling of “good guys finish last.”
So… I love it when good guys finish first. I’m trying to be a good guy too! And, yeah, good guys DO finish first. If you don’t believe me, just show up on Heaven’s Judgment Day. (Everybody will show up, even those who don’t believe in God.)
Posted in Christianity
Tagged basketball, Christianity, el nino torres, Faith, football, heroes, inspiration, James Lebron, Jesus, prayer, soccer, sports, Tim Tebow