Sunday, January 29, 2012

The World's Greatest Untapped Resource

As we've entered the first month of 2012, I've been thinking a lot about prayer and what my prayer life needs to look like this year and beyond. I don't know about you, but I far too often settle for lackluster, hurried prayers while I'm rushing off to do other things, and then I have the audacity to wonder why my prayer life overall seems lackluster.
We need to get more serious about prayer. The world's greatest untapped resource is not something like secret sources of crude oil beneath the surface of the earth or as-yet-undiscovered technology that could cure cancer, or anything like that. In reality, it is prayer. The world's greatest resource, which so many of us do not tap into as we should, is the heartfelt, intense, worshipful, and committed prayer of the people of God. Prayer is the greatest power we have, yet so often you and I do not pray, or we pray in a far too cursory way.
Christians worldwide love the promise of Jeremiah 29:11, " 'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.' "
They often stop quoting this passage at the end of that verse, potentially missing an equally groundbreaking promise 2 verses later. In Jeremiah 29:13, God promises, "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." You WILL seek me AND find me . . . WHEN you seek me with ALL your heart. This is a tremendously powerful promise from a God who loves us more than we could ever imagine. If we will seek him with everything that is within us, exerting ourselves in prayer, not expecting it to always be easy, holding our hands to heaven, then we will find and come to know the heart of God. I don't know about you, but I want that more than anything--and I need my prayer life to reflect that.
This doesn't mean God always answers our prayers in the affirmative. I have prayed desperately for people, enlisted intercessory help . . . and sometimes God still says no. But if in praying we come to know the holy and loving heart of God, is it not worth it to pray with all that we are? I firmly believe that God is raising up a generation of people who are going to seek Him as if there is no tomorrow. I want to be a part of that generation, of that powerful movement that could shake life as we know it and compel us out of our complacency.
Yes, prayer really is the greatest power we have. It allows the Holy Spirit to be poured out on us, like a sweet, soft, compassionate rain. Or like a flood, a torrential downpour of blessing, depending on our needs at the time. It gives us holy boldness and holy opportunity to speak the truth of God's Word into people's lives. It allows Christ to saturate our hearts and our minds on a continual basis. It invokes God's favor and blessing on our lives. It reminds us that our victory is sure and our hope will not disappoint us. It offers us peace, and nothing in this world could manufacture the kind of peace that God gives. It is a peace about our past, present, and future; a peace about our relationships; and a peace about ourselves. It is this peace that authoritatively demands that fear flee from our hearts and our minds. God is already present IN our future, in a thousand tomorrows, and He fights tirelessly for us. He is on our side. Yes, he is on our side. Why would we NOT pray with all that we are for the blessing and power of God to cover our lives?
If you pray earnestly, with passion and authenticity, it is some of the hardest work I know of. Yet even so, all the more do we need to bring our needs and praises, our deepest longings and desires, even the groans and pain of hearts that long to see the kingdom of God come, before the throne room of God, placing our deeply-held desires in our Savior's nail-scarred hands and leaving them there. As Hosea 6:3 boldly promises, "Let us press on to know the Lord, and He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rain in early spring."
Pray without ceasing. You will never be the same.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Knowing Nothing But Christ

I had an old blog that I started keeping during the summer of 2010, but I just wasn't consistent with it. I decided to go ahead and delete that one and get a fresh start with this blog and see if I can keep it up, but I did find some old posts I had written that I'd like to go ahead and share again here. I'll probably post some of these in the next week or so.

This is one of the posts I wrote in 2010. It's on an issue I still think is really important now:

I feel really concerned by people, particularly in my age group, who are Christians but when asked about their "religious views" (on Facebook or anywhere else!) they say/ write something like the following:
  • LOVE
  • peace
  • Social justice is my religion.
  • I have a broad and inclusive perspective.
  • God is too big to fit into any one religion.
  • It's all about love...
  • And you get the idea.
Frankly, I think that to only say these things while making no mention of Christ or anything related to him is a cop-out. If you are really a Christian, say so! Don't cover it up with some confusing, broad, feel-good, politically correct terms that don't really mean anything without Christ. (By the way, since when did my generation come to think that even our faith must be politically correct?)

If you read 1 Corinthians 1, you'll find that without the cross and the resurrection of Christ, vague notions of "love" and "justice" would probably honestly fit into Paul's category of the "wisdom of this world" and the philosophy of the present age--a wisdom he says is made foolish by the message of Christ! Now don't get me wrong--I'm not trying to say anything bad about love, justice, peace, or anything else I referenced on that list above. But those ideas have NO power devoid or separated from the power of the crucified and resurrected Christ! The early apostles did not sit around talking or preaching about those things. No, they preached the message of Christ and --empowered by that message--went out and LIVED those things. They were out living love so powerfully that thousands of people were coming to Christ every day! We can't just speak about feel-good concepts that don't really have a lot of meaning without Christ. In fact, Paul writes that he determined to know and preach NOTHING but Christ and Him crucified and resurrected. Maybe that is offensive, but sometimes, the truth is offensive.

As Paul did, we as Christians need to recognize the message of Christ which literally ruptures the flaky "wisdom" of our world and has the power to make us overturn our ideologies, change our commitments, relinquish our privileges, and dismantle our hierarchies. All I'm asking is that we not water down Christ to some wishy-washy, vague notion of peace, love, tolerance, justice, etc. And no worries--I'm guilty of doing this too and need to be reminded of it too! We need a little more of Paul's language of the interruption, offense, and new creation found in Christ to enter into our modern Christian discourse. We need to be praying that God will raise up people in His church who are not afraid to speak the truth. Love and justice can and should stem from our lives as saved people--but they are not our salvation, Jesus is! We need a rupture in our philosophy, like 1 Corinthians 1 gives witness to. We need to speak of Christ as the power of God and the wisdom of God.

So go. Be guilty of turning the world upside down. You won't be the first.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Thoughts for the New Year

I know that the initial "newness" of 2012 may have worn off as it is almost the end of January, but I think that now is as good a time as any to reassess those New Year's resolutions and consider where to go from here. I know for a lot of people, by about Valentine's Day if not well before, their list of carefully thought-out New Year's resolutions has been all but forgotten in the hurried pace of a new year and its new demands. In fact, some people tend to make the exact same resolutions year after year--exercise more, lose weight, spend more time with family, do better in school, get a better job, etc, hoping that each new year will be THE year when those goals are finally met. ("This year, I'm finally going to get my whole life together!")

I like to think of my aspirations for a new year as "goals" rather than using the word "resolution." To me, a resolution is the sort of thing that, if you fail even once or twice, you've failed to live up to your resolution. On the other hand, I see a "goal" as something you can consistently work toward and be making progress toward even if there are some failures in the process. It feels more like a chance to make progress towards a worthy vision or ambition and less like an all-or-nothing demand that feels impossible to meet.

Scripture refers to vision a number of times, and I believe that God's people are called to have God-sized visions and goals for their years and their lives in general. Some of God's best counsel concerning vision and goal-setting is almost hidden in the middle of the Old Testament book of Habbakuk. This prophet lived in a time when the people of Israel saw far too much violence, evil, and injustice in their own country, and Habakkuk complained to God about these terrible problems, asking him when he would act and when things would ever change. Habbakuk 2:2-3 records the Lord's reply: "Write down the vision and make it plain on tablets so that whoever reads it may run with it. For the vision awaits an appointed time . . . though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay."

To me, these verses first speak to the importance of writing down the goals and visions God has given us for our lives. Studies have shown that people who write down specific goals and deadlines by which they intend to accomplish those goals are much more likely to succeed in reaching them than those whose goals are only vague notions in their minds that haven't been put in writing. I believe writing goals down gives the goal-setter not only a psychological advantage but also a spiritual one. When God has given a particular vision for His glory to an individual, a couple, a family, a church, or any group, writing that vision down is crucial for holding all those involved accountable to working towards that vision and trusting God for its accomplishment. Why is this accountability through the writing of goals so important? "Make it plain on tablets so that whoever reads it may run with it." I don't know about you, but I want to be held accountable to run with every vision that God has placed within my heart for 2012 and beyond. I want to write these visions down--in lists to put on my fridge or in my car or in my journal or whatever works for you--so that every time I see and read them, I am prompted by God's Spirit in me to run towards accomplishing His will and His vision for my life.

God also told Habakkuk that the vision awaited an appointed time--that although he might have to wait for it, it would certainly be coming. I think the context of this book indicates that Habakkuk's vision was to see some of the wrongs and injustice in his land and among his people being made right. We may not always see our God-given visions come to pass right away, especially when they are huge visions like correcting an injustice or starting a chain reaction of change in a broken sector of society. But God has encouraged me greatly with this verse that any vision truly from Him will come to pass at the time He has appointed it to be. It is my task to wait upon Him even as I pour myself into doing all I can to fulfill the ultimate vision of the spread of God's kingdom on our earth.

I need to be in prayer that each day God would reveal to me the goals and visions He has for me. I do not want to be satisfied with small goals that I will feel that I have accomplished without His help. I also don't want to settle for only goals that are self-serving--that improve my reputation, my status, my assets, my quality of life. In fact, I want to be willing to sacrifice these very things if that is necessary for me to pursue the goal of God's glory in my life. So, what is your God-given vision for 2012? Write it down and then run with it.

And last but not least, an encouraging song for the new year: "Lord I Need You" by Chris Tomlin. This is the first song I listened to in 2012 and I've listened to it pretty much every day since. It is a great reminder for every day of the year:

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


Hi everyone! I'm so glad that you've taken a moment to check out my blog. I'm in my first year of law school (for all of you non-law-school folks, that makes me a "1L"), and I want to have the chance to share some of my writing with the people that I care about--that's why I've designed this blog. (And, it may or may not be a way for me to procrastinate about doing assignments for my legal writing and research classes!)

A lot of what I write about will probably emerge from my day-to-day experiences as a student and young adult. I want to be able to reflect on some of the seemingly simple yet profound moments in my life. I may write about books I'm reading, movies I've seen, the classes I'm taking, meaningful quotes, conversations I have with people, and anything that I find motivational, inspiring, or perhaps controversial. I may sometimes write about my take on current events or other issues as well. I also hope to write regular devotionals, things that God is teaching me, and my thoughts on living a meaningful, engaged, and passionate Christian life--if those things interest you or your friends, please check back for upcoming posts on those topics. In short, this blog will probably be pretty eclectic--I don't necessarily plan to stick to just one type of post or one predominant topic, but I want to have a chance to dabble in a lot of styles of writing that interest me.

I've always thought of myself as a writer, but like many people, I find it difficult to share what I write with other people even though I greatly enjoy putting my thoughts on paper in a more private setting. Still, I'm hoping that posting my thoughts for friends, family, and others to see will be encouraging, enjoyable, and thought-provoking for everyone who reads them. Happy reading!