My 2018 Prayer, Problem, and Prayer Request

The passage for the 1st day of #Intercede2018 (Booklet, PDF) is on Ephesians 3:14-19.  Here Paul shares his prayer for the Christians in Ephesus – for his ‘spiritual children’ :

  • to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being
  • that Christ may dwell in your hearts
  • be rooted and grounded in love
  • have strength to comprehend the breadth and length and height and depth
  • and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge
  • that you may be filled with all the fullness of God

As I read (and re-read) this passage, I see in my mind my son, my daughter, my wife. This is my prayer for them as well! This was exactly what I was thinking about yesterday. It would be so awesome if this becomes a lifestyle for them.

But wait… this sounds like a sad case of “do as I say, but not as I do”…

The reality is, for my family to experience these things, I have to lead them. I have to model this life for them. Then let’s say I am able to live out this ‘filled’ life, it’s all meaningless if I’m not with them. How can I lead them, model to them, if they can’t see me? I need to be present – yes, physically  – in their lives.

I’ve known this at the back of my head for a while, but this time I’m calling it out. I have two very big problems:

  1. For my family to live abundant lives in Christ, I must lead by example
  2. For me to lead by example, I must be physically – and mentally, emotionally -present in their lives

Good thing it’s P&F week…

A Father’s Request

Is it alright that the (re)start point of my faith is because of my want for my family to have abundant lives? I want them to have joy-filled, purpose-filled, blessing-others, weather-the-storms kind of lives that I know for certain God – and only God – can give.

It just feels dishonest (to be honest), because I know – and God knows – that my motivation is not from a strong personal desire, like the rekindling of an old fire, or a personal spiritual revival of sorts. My motivation is, simply: I have something I want to ask of God.

Incidentally, that something is for my family to have in them a strong personal desire for God that will lead to said abundant lives. But seeking the gift over the Giver? For shame.

I am reminded of fathers in the New Testament who’ve made requests to Jesus in behalf of their children. By God’s grace, none in my family are sick now, so the seriousness of our requests may not be of the same caliber. But they did go to Jesus not for themselves, but because they had a request for their family… so is this… okay?

I hope so.. I think so.. Our approach has two elements that I know God desires in his people: Surrender (I cannot do this…) and Faith (…but I know You can).

Maybe the rekindling of the fire will come later on. My ask is not a one-time request: it’s day to day for as long as I am alive. So I will keep on seeking Jesus, I will keep on surrendering, listening and obeying His instructions, I will keep on believing. Then, as He keeps his promises, as He does all the great things he does, as He shows me and I begin to understand his love… maybe, maybe there’s hope for me too.

Mess to Message

To be honest, I haven't been consistently right with God for the past few days, weeks, and months. My life is a crazy mess. Which would be fine if my crazy mess of a life has no consequence to other people. Unfortunately and to my shame, until I get myself together I am messing up their lives as well.

It's the perfect word, "mess". It's really only by grace that we are surviving day by day, that my life is not falling apart, and that sometimes, there are even really really good days. These are all completely undeserved.

Now I am presented with a great opportunity: To experience, once again, the kind of changes that happen when I recommit and persevere in "seeking first God's kingdom and righteousness".

I feel ashamed that, after all this time, after all the times God has proven Himself faithful and powerful, I have come to this low point of my life again.

But at the same time, I feel excited. I know that things will turn out awesome. I know it.

But I have to do my part.

Debt, Hard Work, and Evil Schemes

Thoughts on Proverbs 6:1-19

Prevention is better than cure. So, as much as you can, don’t get yourself into financial debt.

What would make someone cosign a loan for a stranger? What would make someone make guarantees that would eventually ensnare them?

Haughtiness, and pride, maybe. Thinking big of himself and wanting to gain a reputation for being rich. It could also be because he was tricked or scammed by people with ill intent. Whatever the case, his financial literacy (managing of one’s finances) is not good. The parable of the prodigal* son comes to mind.

Sadly, many men have fallen into this trap. Proverbs 6 gives instructions on how to get out of it. 

Basically? Do. Whatever. It. Takes.

First on the agenda: Get your lazy *** out of bed, out of the couch, out of that comfy chair. If I were to apply this to our day and age, I would add get out of social media, out of games, out of TV or Movies.

If we’re honest with ourselves, we know the things and activities we can – and should – give up.

“A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭6:10-11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I know these verses, but didn’t notice until now that it’s after a passage on debt, and directed to a “sluggard”. Under normal circumstances and for those who do good work, this is still a great mindset to have, but one that can be easily abused. These two verses can be used as justification by workaholic Christians. Don’t overdo it.

“A worthless person, a wicked man, goes about with crooked speech, winks with his eyes, signals with his feet, points with his finger, with perverted heart devises evil, continually sowing discord;”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭6:12-14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Some might be tempted with “get out of debt quick” or other “get rich quick” schemes. This is usually at the expense of others. Don’t do it, it will not end well. Proverbs says that the outcome for this is to be “broken beyond healing”.

It’s not often we get to know specifically what God hates, but Proverbs lists it up for us:

  • haugthy eyes
  • lying tongues
  • hands that shed innocent blood
  • heart that devises wicked plans
  • feet quick to run to evil
  • bearing false witness
  • sowing discord among brothers

Truly, the want of money (and the power that comes with it) makes men do detestable things.

To save us from falling on this trap, we need to make sure we are wholly devoted to God our Master.

(*Confession, I didn’t know what “prodigal” means until today)

How will people remember you?

Thoughts on Titus 3

Has it really been 2 months since the last post?

An acquaintance passed away the day I started meditating on Titus 3. He was young, my age, early 30s. His death was sudden – he was only admitted to the hospital only a few hours before and, as far as I know, he didn’t show any signs of sickness before then. He played sports regularly, had a vibrant social life, and seemed to enjoy his work too.

There’s much comfort knowing that he loves the Lord and is in peace in Heaven now. But his family and friends are crushed.

In the days after his death, messages from friends, family, and people whose lives were touched by him – whether directly or indirectly – came pouring in on social media. From their messages, I can tell that he lived a life of kindness, selflessness, laughter, and encouragement. He was a blessing to many people in his life, and even in his death.

This event brought me face to face with my own mortality. I spent many days and nights worrying, even anxious to the point of mini-panic attacks: “What if it happens to me?” 

What sort of life, what testimony, have I been living?

“Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.”
‭‭Titus‬ ‭3:1-2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Am I living a life as one who has been forgiven, who has since then died to sin, and is victorious as the one who saved him?

“For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another.”
‭‭Titus‬ ‭3:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Or, is there no change? Have I been like the seed sown among thorns where, “the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.” Mark‬ ‭4:19‬ ‭ESV‬‬

How will I be remembered?