Why won’t you answer me God??

This morning our pastor was talking about something that my wife and I have been struggling with for a while now (incidentally I added a link to pod casts from our church, First Baptist).  In a nutshell the idea is centered around our struggle with why God doesn’t answer our prayers according to our timeline and the way we expect them to be answered.  I know, the nerve right?  Isn’t God supposed to be answering our prayers and doing what is best for us?  Doesn’t he know that what we are praying for is what we know is best for us?

 

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways.” [This is] the Lord’s declaration. “For as heaven is higher than earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”  Isaiah 55:8–9

Man, isn’t that the truth!  When we don’t feel like God is listening to us or that He is not answering our prayers like we expect here are two important things to remember:

1) Silence from God doesn’t mean He is absent.

2) When God moves in quiet and unseen ways it is just as deliberate and intentional on His part, as when he moves in active, awesome and obvious ways.

How often do we think that because we are not hearing God or that he is not, apparently, answering our prayers that we must be doing something wrong.  That we aren’t praying hard enough, giving enough, reading enough, listening well enough, being good enough, etc.

I have found myself doing that a lot lately; and what I have come to realize is that no matter what I do, or how well I do it, it will never be good enough!  That’s the point!  There is no way that we can ever be good enough, pray hard enough, live right enough to get to God and receive his blessing on our own.  If there was we would have no need for Jesus!

What we have to remember is that God always loves us, God always wants the best for us, God always hears our prayers, and God always answers our prayers.  Sometimes God does not always answer our prayers the way we want them to be answered but He always answers them in the way that is best for us.  We may not see it today, or tomorrow, but it is always in a way that is best for us.

So the next time you feel like God isn’t listening, or that He isn’t answering your prayers remember that, He is.  Take a step back, believe that God is taking care of you, trust that He has your best interest in mind and know that He is, one way or another, going to answer your prayer.

 

Resolution

First, I want to appolagize for the lack of post recently.  We have been without internet for the last two weeks or so.  It is amazing how dependent we become on technology (but that is a topic for another post).

I found the resolution from the movie “Courage”.  This is awesome!  I encourage any of you men that have a family to print this out and live it!  There is a version of this that is commercially available that has a place at the bottom for your signature and the signature of two witnesses.  I think that this is an awesome idea, to get with two other men and enter into this resolution together, to keep each other accountable.  Enough talk, here you go:

RESOLUTION

I do solemnly resolve before God to take full responsibility for myself, my wife, and my children.

I will love them, protect them, serve them and teach them the word of God as the spiritual leader of my home.

I will be faithful to my wife, to love and honor her, and be willing to lay down my life for her, as Jesus Christ did for me.

I will bless my children and teach them to love God with all of their hearts, all of their minds, and all of their strength.

I will train them to honor authority and live responsibly.

I will confront evil, pursue justice, and love mercy.

I will pray for others and treat them with kindness, respect and compassion.

I will work diligently to provide for the needs of my family.

I will forgive those who have wronged me and reconcile with those I have wronged.

I will learn from my mistakes, repent of my sins, and walk with integrity as a man answerable to God.

I will seek to honor God, be faithful to his Church, obey His word and do His will.

I will courageously work with the strength God provides to fulfill this resolution for the rest of my life for His glory.

 

Now, tell me that isn’t exactly how Christian men need to be!

Family Time – It’s what’s for dinner!

Here are two disturbing statistics:

On average, parents spend 38.5  minutes per week engaged in meaningful conversation with their kids. (A.C. Nielson, Co.)

The average American kid spends 1,197 minutes per week watching television.

What struck me when I read this is that I probably spend more time in the shower every week than I spend really talking with my kids.  I don’t know about you guys, but that seems like a problem to me!  While we are busy doing other things, the TV is raising our kids!

The typical response is, “We just don’t have enough time!”  Between working late, soccer practice, ballet recitals, and all the other things that we fill our lives with, how do we find time for just talking with our kids?  How about starting with family dinners.

The benefits of sitting down together as a family can be huge.  Older kids and teens who routinely eat together with their families have been found less likely to get involved with drugs and alcohol and get better grades.  For younger kids, family dinners are more important than play, story time and other family activities in the development of vocabulary. (Harvard Research, 1996)

So why not take the time to sit down and eat a meal each day as a family.  Sounds to me like it can only help to strengthen our families.  What about finding the time, you ask?  I guarantee that if we can balance and schedule all of our meetings, workout classes, kids activities, etc.; we can find a way to make time for dinner together with our families.  Set aside the time at the beginning of the week, before it fills up with less important things.  If you are busy at work, leave 30 minutes early for the office so you don’t have to stay late.  When we want to, we can always find more time for something.

At the end of the day, what is more important than knowing that you have made every effort to give your family everything that it deserves.

Happy eating!

Don’t Shy Away from the Fight!

“If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ.”

This quote, often attributed to Martin Luther, has a questionable origin (some background here) but the message is sound regardless of where it came from.  We have to be professing Christ in a relevant way.

If we, as Christian men (and all Christians for that matter) are not willing to step out in faith and support/defend/fight for the things of God; the things that we know to be right; then what are we doing?  If we are not willing to take a stand about relevant issues in the world today how are we fighting for Christ?  It is easy to sit in our church building or small group and talk about the issues facing our world today, about how un-Godly the world has become, about all of the problems out there and that if people would just follow Christ and trust God how much better the world would be.  But when we are faced with a situation in the real world; a potentially charged or confrontational situation with people that don’t share our beliefs or point of view; we back down.  Why?

I think it stems from the fact that many of us do not want to be labeled as a “conservative Christian” with all the stereotypes and pre-conceptions that go along with it.  We want to fit in with the crowd, not make waves, and hopefully someone will ask us to tell them about our faith so we can “spread the gospel”.  Let’s face it, how often does that happen… almost never!  I am the most guilty of this out of anyone I know.  I have been the classic chameleon, always trying to say or do the right thing so that I would fit in and be accepted.  That is a great way to make friends, but is it any way to impact them for God?  If we want to truly impact our community, our friends, our co-workers for Christ then we have to be bold.  We have to step out of our comfort zone and profess the gospel.

Paul had the right idea in Philippians; “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exhaulted in my body, whether by life or by death.”  Philippians 2:20.  Paul was in prison facing possible death for proclaiming Christ and he is asking for more courage to proclaim Christ!  I’m pretty sure that we aren’t going to be in danger of being stoned for speaking out about some hot topic in a Godly way.  That is the beauty of America, freedom of speech.  Yet it also leads to complacency.  Of course we can say what we want, but because we can we often don’t.  We aren’t faced with  possible imprisonment or death and so the stakes don’t feel that high, and if the stakes aren’t high enough then why should I put my comfort on the line?  But let me ask you this, what stakes could possibly be higher than someone’s eternal life?

“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”  2 Timothy 1:7

We don’t have any reason to be timid in speaking out for God.  Our God is stronger than any person, any movement, any other power and He will walk with us when we walk out in faith for Him.  “The Lord himself goes before you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”  Deuteronomy 31:8

Don’t be ashamed of your faith.  Don’t be afraid to support what God tells us is right.  Ask God for the courage to speak out for Him and do it!

Make an Impact for God

Here is a question to start your day off… what are you doing to impact to world for God?

This is a question that I have been asking of myself and my family lately and truthfully the answer is, not very much.  I have been living my life as a good person (mostly!), going to work, going to church, and providing for my family.  Basically all the things that are expected of me.

What I realized is that the things that I have been focused on are not always Godly things, but selfish things.  I have been too focused on my hobbies, my wants, my goals and not enough on God’s desires for my life, God’s purpose, and spreading God’s word and love.

I have been reading Radical by David Platt and he has some great thoughts on this subject.  Here is a quote from his book where he is talking about what church and Christians in America have become, “We live decent lives in decent homes with decent jobs and decent families as decent citizens.  We are decent church members with little more impact on the world than we had before we were saved.”

I will pose the question again as your thought for the day (and mine too).  Are you just going through the motions of life or are you making an impact on the world for God?

Man of God Top 10 – #1 Love

The #1 thing that describes a man of God is love.  I’m sure you saw this coming, how could you not.  Love is everywhere in the Bible.  We are told that God is love and that we are made in the image of God, that we are to try to live our life like Jesus (who is God), so how could love not be one of the most important things for a man of God.

I come back to 1 Timothy 6:11 “But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.”  Pursue love.  In other words do everything in love.  Because if we do everything in love how can you go wrong? (Yes, I realize that statement is not entirely accurate or true but you get the idea)

When Jesus was asked what the most important commandment was he replied: ” ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  this is the first and greatest commandment.  And second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the law and the Prophets and on these two commandments.”

Love with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  God deserves this kind of love because he is God.  There is nothing that he hasn’t done or won’t do for the goodness of mankind, including punishing us, because he loves us.  We, men of God, should live each day with an awe inspiring view of God and the love that he has for us.  We should do everything with love in our hearts.  Loving our neighbor, co-worker, friend, family, complete stranger, orphan, widow, everyone just as Christ loved us.

And here is a kicker for you.  If you truly love someone would you not want them to know the God that you know, the God that loves them, the God that saves them?  How can you love someone and not share the Gospel with them?  It is all well and good to say that you love someone, to do everything in love, but what are you doing to show God’s love (and yours) for the people that you interact with?  The greatest thing that you can do in love is to share the gospel!

There you go men.  Love.  Do it!

Man of God Top 10 – #2 Walks With God

When I think of an example of a man of God the best examples I can think of, besides Jesus, were the disciples.  They literally walked with God.  I know that we can’t physically walk with God, but we can walk with Him in other ways.  Walk with me now (ok, a little cheesy I know…).

If we want to walk with God it means actively engaging in some of the things that we have already talked about in this top 10 list.  First, we can’t walk with God if we are pursuing the things of the world.  It is hard enough to follow God without the distractions that are out there trying to pull us away from Him.  If you want to really walk with God then you have to make Him your priority.  This may mean giving up some of the things that you have been pursuing.  Don’t divide your attention, this is too important to only do part way.

If you are going to walk with God it will probably be useful to know what direction to walk in!  You are probably saying to yourself, “How am I supposed to know that, I haven’t seen any sign posts lately.”  To answer that I am going to ask you to do something that none of us guys are very good at (me included)… ask for directions!  It’s as simple as that!  If you want to know which direction God wants you to go pray for guidance and direction.

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”  Isaiah 30:21

Trust me, God will give you a sign.  Sometimes you may have to ask for the directions that come with the 2×4 (because let’s face it, we can be pretty slow some days!).

The road that God puts you on is not always going to be smooth.  Spend time in His word so that you will be equipped for those bumps and potholes along the way.  The word of God is an amazing tool, use it!

Finally, if you are truly going to walk with God then you have to trust Him.  You have to trust where he is taking you.  “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”   Romans 8:28  God has a good plan for you, trust Him and walk with him.