Consecration by Jonathan Edwards

jonathan edwardsI claim no right to myself—no right to this understanding, this will, these affections that are in me; neither do I have any right to this body or its members—no right to this tongue, to these hands, feet, ears, or eyes.

I have given myself clear away and not retained anything of my own. I have been to God this morning and told Him I have given myself wholly to Him. I have given every power, so that for the future I claim no right to myself in any respect. I have expressly promised Him, for by His grace I will not fail. I take Him as my whole portion and felicity, looking upon nothing else as any part of my happiness. His law is the constant rule of my obedience.

I will fight with all my might against the world, the flesh, and the devil to the end of my life. I will adhere to the faith of the Gospel, however hazardous and difficult the profession and practice of it may be.

I receive the blessed Spirit as my Teacher, Sanctifier, and only Comforter, and cherish all admonitions to enlighten, purify, confirm, comfort, and assist me. This I have done.

I pray God, for the sake of others, to look upon this as a self-dedication, and receive me as His own. Henceforth, I am not to act in any respect as my own. I shall act as my own if I ever make use of any of my powers to do anything that is not to the glory of God, or to fail to make the glorifying of Him my whole and entire business.

If I murmur in the least at afflictions; if I am in any way uncharitable; if I revenge my own case; if I do anything purely to please myself, or omit anything because it is a great denial; if I trust to myself; if I take any praise for any good which Christ does by me; or if I am in any way proud, I shall act as my own and not God’s. I purpose to be absolutely His.

—Jonathan Edwards

Heart Transplant Update

It’s been nearly 3 years since Chris’ heart transplant. Chris is doing well and even though there are still challenges, he is stronger everyday.

I love this “spiritual heart transplant” verse, too!

And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. Ezekiel 36:26 (NLT)

New Fasting Book

I just bought this book by my friend, John Bankas. It is a new release that I am looking forward to read. John is a passionate person who loves Jesus and longs for a move of God both personally in his life and WAY BEYOND! You will learn a lot from this one.

Click the link to go directly to Amazon and buy it now!

Fasting Outside the Box: Fasting Guidelines for Beginners

Long Time Plans From God

O Lord, I will honor and praise your name,
for you are my God.
You do such wonderful things!
You planned them long ago,
and now you have accomplished them.
Isaiah 25:1 (NLT)

The joys, sorrow, desperation, satisfaction, excitement, or phase in life we find ourselves in my be a surprise to us, but these are not a surprise to God. No matter the situation, we must learn on a continuing basis to allow our Heavenly Father permission to guide us through the deep waters of our journey.

It works something like this:

  • God knows
  • God plans
  • We listen
  • We wait
  • God implements the plan promise
  • We are humbled and respond by humbly shining light, giving glory, to Him.

I just put this in a nice easy package, right? But with God, we should never do that. It all comes down to the TIMING of the ONE who created TIME ETERNAL. And that’s not you or me.

The powerful verse here in Isaiah 25 is that God DOES have the last word — HE ACCOMPLISHES … It’s not our strength or perhaps even our battle, it comes down to OBEDIENCE and FAITH.

Sing a Song of Sadness

sad song prophetToday in Isaiah 5, the prophet is calling people out in the form of a song. It begins innocently enough, but quickly takes a turn. A turn of truth. In our world, nation, cities, and even in our families we could actually join along in some of the verses found there.

These are sickened words of the reality of the times. Many have rejected the truths they know through learning God’s Word.

Bottom line to this chapter? JUSTICE. God WILL get the last word.

Other places in the Bible mention that God is JUST — AND — FAITHFUL to forgive us and help us to REALLY LIVE. We can find our way – path – to start with at least, by gazing intently at His purity and holiness.

Hostile

Hostile is the focus in my prayer and Bible study time today. As I begin reading in Isaiah, it is obvious that things — actually PEOPLE– just aren’t right with God. And we know the challenge that Isaiah has before him, don’t we? Here are my “first thoughts” in bullet point form.

First, recognize the spiritual destruction all around you.
Second, be sure you understand your own spiritual condition, checking yours against the complacency and corruption.
Third, examine the rewards of choosing God over idols, complacency, culture that is contrary to His teachings, selfishness, and just plain pride.
Fourth, get ready to speak forth the Word of the Lord with confidence and boldness.

Ok, let’s START there. It IS only day ONE of this prayer season, after all!!

Why I Chose to Isaiah to Start

Tomorrow, (Monday, May 3) our church is beginning a 21 day fast. It can be something other than food, like Facebook, the Internet, LOST, 24, The Biggest Loser, or really anything. It’s what I’m calling “New School Fasting”. I will BEGIN by spending a lot of time in prayer and reading through the amazing book of Isaiah.

I recently saw pieces of the Dead Sea Scrolls in Sacramento, California. One of the things mentioned there was that the book of Isaiah was the only full intact scroll to be found. I was intrigued and inspired to examine this wonderful book of prophecy, promises, encouragement, and hope. I am also leaving a lot of “God” options open with this journey. We always TALK about not putting God in a box, right. Sometimes big good expectations do not turn out to be GOD expectations. So I going forward with GOD ANTICIPATION!

What are your first thoughts going forward into this seeking/finding adventure?

If you want to listen to Sunday’s message online, just click here. It will help you get/stay up to speed on what’s up. Remember you can begin or re-start your FAST at any time. But I challenge you to do your best to keep at it and really make God the center of your seek/find time.

Positioning for Prayer

When it comes to seeking the Lord, what do YOU do? I am in that season right now. I need wisdom, understanding, direction, and inspiration. Actually, I am calling all of our church to do just that, too.

We will begin with a 21 day fast. A time of sincere “setting-aside-a-time-and-place” to all God to speak in to our lives. We need to hear our loving Father through His Scripture and through the Holy Spirit.

Right now I just want to change to be more like Christ, to see new things, to embrace those precious people He created to work beside me. His WORKMANSHIP. Tell me, if you had a time that was a springboard to something spiritually new … what was it for you? Share you story in the comments, ok?

Sad Day for Police Officers

So sad to see the combined funeral service of 4 Oakland Police Officers who were killed less than 7 days ago.

By “4 Oakland Police Officers” I mean, Mark Dunakin, John Hege, Ervin Romans and Daniel Sakai. You see they have names, family, dreams, and stories. Stories of a desire to stand against crime and for the law … and for justice.

When tragedy strikes, people may or may not come by the side of the hurting. We are all challenged by such events to remember that life is but a breath, and we should live it for the good of others. That standard of good I have learned comes from values that matter, too. These values are constantly confronted by opposition. Opposition to what God has intended for us all.

Through the good times, hard times, and even the terrible times, I am centered in my life by the example of one much better at this than I will ever be. That is my Lord and Savior, Jesus.

To the families, friends, and to the City of Oakland and beyond … My prayer is that you too will know this peace from Christ. Our prayers are with you!

John 16:33 (the words of Jesus) I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

Mom’s Birthday — December 2, 2008

Today is mom’s birthday. When you pass 70 years old, it means a lot of things.

4 baby deliveries
1 father passing away
1 mom in a nursing home
major moving across the country
living through a lot of heartaches
finding healing
visiting kids who live FAR away
making many friends
falling on ice and laying there for a very long time
missing many friends
worrying about family and life’s events
laughing
bringing joy to so many people
trying to move heavy things
praying for many friends
learning the internet
loving children
loving lions
loving jesus
keeping many friends
… and the list goes on and on and on and on and on …

Happy birthday mom!

31-Day Election Prayer Calendar

Gotta love this 31-Day Election Prayer Calendar. It gives us a focus point for each day leading up to the November 2008 elections. The main web site is found right here.

If you want to download this PDF file for your use, just click here.

It is important to those who are Followers of Christ help our nation through the power of prayer.

So look at the Presidential candidates. Look closely. Examine Obama and Biden and McCain and Palin. Then apply the values that would most honor Jesus. After all of that and after prayer? Vote, by all means — VOTE!

Ordinary Wednesday?

Wednesday is sometimes called “hump day”. It’s an ordinary hum-drum day in the middle of the week that seems long. If we can get through it then the rest of the week is easy, or so goes the thinking.

If I make this an “ordinary” day, nothing will change in my world. This may seem pretty nice to some people, after all, consistency is not always bad.

But I am here to make a difference. God has a calling and plan for my life. That plan is to change the world for His glory. When I stop and think about THAT, then I don’t want today to be ordinary.

My prayer today?

God, show my YOUR way and will for me to somehow have people look in YOUR direction. My eyes and mind are open to what YOU want. I give you PERMISSION to use me as an instrument for YOUR purposes.

Yosemite Fires Bring Me a Reminder

This AP story shows a what is happening near Yosemite National Park. That park is just a few hours from where we live. In fact, we will actually be there next week on vacation.

We love the beauty of God’s creation. We will be doing some 4-wheeling, reading, watching sunsets, and once again we will visit Lake Eleanor — a hidden and pristine lake treasure.

Many years ago, we had a guest Revival Speaker come to our church. Leonard Ravenhill was a brash, straight-shooting, no-way-out kind of preacher. He scared us a little. But the fear was kind of authentic because of what his core message communicated.

The message was pretty simple. In comparison with the Holiness of God — how are we living out our faith? Is it sincere and active and honoring the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY?

Woah, it sure had us praying for a true move of God to be known in our individual lives.

Now for the fire reminder: Leonard Ravenhill was asked to provide promotional materials so we could get more of the public to respond to his visit. You know, we just wanted to advertise the event.

His response? “YOU NEVER HAVE TO ADVERTISE A FIRE!”

And it’s true, fire attracts attention. The attention goes directly to the source of the flames, to the heat and to the available fuel – in this case, believers willing to “burn” in order to keep God’s evidence in clear view.

Afraid? Worrying? No Peace?

California FireWith gas prices advancing daily, the economy in shaky condition, and the war in Iraq continuing it truly leads to concern. In fact we have had over 800 fires started by lightning just here in Northern California. Smoke is in the air — and it is very thick in many areas.

Now … add that to the everyday pressures of life. Like your job. Like addictions. Like broken relationships. Like fear. Like anger and bitterness. Like … the unknown.

Andrae Crouch wrote a song called, “Jesus is the Answer” many years ago. It is comforting and based on the peace that comes from having a relationship with Jesus. That relationship is outlined in the Bible and especially comes to life in the New Testament. There is hope. Perspective changes when you know and become a fully devoted follower of Christ. Do you know Him?

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)

The Prayers of a Pastor

I don’t usually copy and paste articles verbatim, but this one by Dan Reiland was amazing. If you are a pastor, read and be encouraged.

If you know a pastor, pray for them… it’s a burden to carry even though the call of God on one’s life is amazing. May we reach others with a message of compassion, love, and the gospel of Jesus Christ!

—————– used by permission ——————-

“Hear my prayer, O LORD God Almighty; listen to me, O God of Jacob. Selah 9 Look upon our shield, O God; look with favor on your anointed one. 10 Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. 11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. 12 O LORD Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you.” ~ Psalm 84:8-12, NIV

As I meditated over these words in Psalm 84 it struck me that we as pastors pray this kind of prayer hundreds if not thousands of times over the course of our ministry.

You can hear the plea of passion – “Hear my prayer” – “Listen to me.” Isn’t this at the core of what you want? You want God to hear your prayer and you want to hear His response. This is the beauty of communion with the Creator. It is the blessing of being in relationship with the Father. And it is, in fact, how we receive guidance, direction and power from the Holy Spirit.

“Look with favor” – These words are not just for special occasions. This is the daily cry of our hearts. We constantly seek the Lord’s favor for our church and our leadership that His Kingdom may be advanced! Praise and worship is carried in the acknowledgement of who God is as “Almighty,” and “Sun and Shield”. He is our everything! A heart of gratitude is declared, “I would rather be a doorkeeper…” We must always remember our servant status and that being a pastor is a great privilege. And the conditions are made plain. “No good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” And, “Blessed is the man who trusts you.” We are required to live a life of integrity and trust in God!

Many Christians may pray a prayer like this, but surely it is the prayer of a pastor! This got me thinking about the kinds of prayers a pastor prays. Let me first say that it is not my intention to get mechanical or boxy about a pastor’s prayer life. If you are a pastor, your prayer life knows no boundaries except that which God Himself may place upon you. You are free to pray as the Spirit leads. That said, however, it seems to me that there are a few kinds of prayers that are common to pastoral life. They are:

  • Prayers of Duty
  • Prayers of Pain
  • Prayers of Vision
  • Prayers of Compassion
  • Prayers of Gratitude

My hope is that this article will serve as a tool to help you reflect on your prayer life. You may tend to focus on one kind of prayer over the others. Or perhaps there is an absence of a kind of prayer that you believe should be more prevalent. And if so, the Spirit may prompt you to pray differently in some way. Here’s a closer look at these kinds of prayers that pastors pray.

Prayers of Duty
This is not as negative as it may sound. Prayers of duty are not about routines and ruts. These prayers are not faithless words from one who expects little. Prayers of duty find their way into the seasons of a pastor’s life when he or she is in a spiritual dry-spell. All pastors experience this. The good news is that God can and will breathe life back into your spiritual intensity and communion with Him will be refreshed. But sometimes you must wait. You may pray without hearing an answer to that prayer for days or weeks or even months. You return to your knees because it’s the right thing. Don’t give up. God has not forsaken you. The clarity and sweetness of His voice will return. Don’t beat yourself up about a dry-spell. Don’t let the Enemy tell you that your ministry is over. Don’t over-think the reasons why this is happening. Reflection on your life and leadership is good, but seeking the Lord’s presence is better.

Prayers of Pain
You may sense the closeness of God’s presence and power. You know and obey His voice, yet you face trouble, problems and heartache. This is not uncommon territory for a pastor. Perhaps you have physical pain and are in need of healing. It might be emotional pain over an important relationship in your family or church body. It may be more about leadership and your ministry. A pastor friend called me yesterday and poured out his heart about the huge financial burdens his church is bearing. He confessed that he doesn’t know what to do. We know this kind of prayer. They aren’t our favorite moments but God uses these prayers for His good and glory. When we are desperate we remember that it’s really all about God and His will and Kingdom. We remember that without Him we can do nothing. I don’t believe that God sends the pain, but He does allow it. And when He answers this prayer, our faith is increased.

Prayers of Vision
As pastors we love these prayers! Visionary prayers are the prayers of leaders, but they require no little effort, and they are the easiest prayers to miss on motive. It can be difficult to discern between our agenda and God’s agenda. That’s a big part of this prayer, staying fully submitted to and aligned with God’s heart and plan. We plead for conversions / baptisms, changed lives, new land and new territory, favor with the people, and a leader’s best friend – momentum. We pray that our prayers and our faith are not too small! We pray for large resources so that the vision may be realized, which means we pray for the people to mature to full followership of Christ so they will want to give to Kingdom matters. Prayers of vision are exhilarating, but they are hard work. They never end. The moment we get close to a vision being realized, we are on to the next one!

Prayers of Compassion
This is a pastor’s heart, a heart for the people. Ultimately I want to see people saved and mature in their faith. I’m sure you do to. This is connected to a prayer of vision, but this is more personal. The prayer of vision is seeing the big picture advance. It is seeing the body of Christ make progress. It’s about big and often new ideas. This prayer is about individual people. It is about conversions, one name at a time. It’s about those who are sick, living in broken marriages, lonely people, hurting people, confused and misguided people, needy and impoverished people, addicted people, and the list goes on. It’s overwhelming. Jesus doesn’t call you to reach everyone, but He does hold you responsible to reach some. These prayers are for healing of all kinds and for help to reach the people He has placed within the scope of your ministry.

Prayers of Gratitude
No matter what the circumstances, how can we not pray prayers of thanksgiving and gratitude? I’m currently reading a biography of Hudson Taylor, the famous missionary to China. Whoa, that guy was amazing. His life completely humbles me. All that he sacrificed and endured for the sake of serving the Savior is staggering. And throughout his ministry he counted it not sacrifice, but privilege. What are you thanking God for? The price He paid for you in the person of His Son Jesus? For all that He has given you? As pastors we must be careful of comparison. If we compare upward we fall short and begin to complain of what we don’t have. If we compare downward, we can fill up with pride about how good we are. It’s best not to compare. Just stay on track with the work Jesus has given you to do. Pray specific prayers of gratitude daily, and thank God for even the smallest of blessings.

What a gift prayer is! At times it’s beyond our comprehension – actually talking with the Creator of the universe. But it’s true! Pray on pastor!

“This article is used by permission from Dr. Dan Reiland’s free monthly e-newsletter, “The Pastor’s Coach,” available at www.INJOY.com.”

Franciscan Benediction — BLESSING —

From a Franciscan Benediction . . .

May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart. 

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace. 

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain in to joy. 

And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done. 

How is God blessing you?