Who's Got Your Back?

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Who's Got Your Back?

Who takes responsibility for your life? Who ultimately is responsible for your success? In one way we each must claim this for ourselves. But we were never meant to go it alone. By our very design we are relational and must have someone who cares enough to partner with us for our personal success.

Keith Ferrazzi make this point well in his book Who’s Got your Back?He makes clear that to be successful we need three people who will hold us accountable for us to be our best selves. I so need this, otherwise I drift and become ambiguous in goals and personal development. Who are those three people? They are the ones who will take responsibility for my success. For me they are people who have qualities I admire, who care about my well being and can add a fresh perspective.

There is One who ultimately has your back. There is a One who takes personal responsible for your success. Like any life coach the He holds you accountable and will not let you down. To the degree that you cooperate with your life coach, to the degree you are receptive to his “whispers” is the degree to which you become all of what the Creator intended you to be.

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Living with God's Power

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Living with God's Power

Everyone wants to have the ability to live well. We desire to have the strength within us to face the challenges with-out us. Where do we find that power? We serve a powerful God. Psalm 62:11 says, "Power, Oh God, belongs to you.."  His power is stronger than we imagine. But, His power does not work the way this world does. In seeking to live powerful lives, we need to let go of somethings and hold on to somethings. We need to let go of using power in ways that hurt and hold on to ways that help.

There are may different words in the Bible to describe power. One is the Greek word “bia”. It means force or violence. It is like a violent mob or threatening waves crashing against a ship, It is to force yourself upon another person. Whenever I try to force things to happen it leaves God's power out. It is easy to get off track and try to get pushy and default to "bia" power. I have made many decisions that I have forced and latter regretted. Whenever I have forced my will on another person, I  always regret it. Forced power is always second rate and causes harm to me or others. It is destructive and always life-taking. We must let go of it.

The other is “ischys”.  It means strength, the ability to make something happen. That's what we want. The ability to manger our loves. God’s power is the ability to make something happen, but it works invisibly and always it is life-giving. We must hold on to it.

God is poweful How do people misuse or misunderstand God's power?

1.  They act as if God was absent. They have to force life to get what they want in this world. “Bia” power. Or they feel abandoned by God and powerless to make things happen and withdraw. A denial of “ischys”. The ability of God.

2. They act as if their agenda is the same as God’s. "God is on my side. So my side is right and everyone else is wrong." How many times have people used God’s name to justify war, aggression toward another group of people. To get what they want.  People have even used the Bible to get people to behave. The Bible says…, then blasted another person without even hearing them out.

This is so unlike God.  In order to let God's power work in our lives we have to believe that he is working. That He is near and he will give us his power to live.

When we find ourselves at the wrong end of power, people using or misusing us. Or, us using or misusing power, then God gives us hope. Isaiah the prophet says, "He (God) gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary." Isaiah 40:29-31

We wait.

We wait expectantly for him to work. One prophet Zephaniah told the king that the battle is not won by human ability. He said it like this. “It is not by force or strength, but by my Spirit says the Lord.”

We wait. We wait in expectation. 

Jesus promised his followers great power from Holy Spirit. What instructions did he give to them? Go out in power? get busy doing? No, before they did anything, they were told to wait until God's power came upon them. Then and then only would they have the effective persistent power to do what only God could do.

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Living Prayerfully

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Living Prayerfully

Jared Brock took a yearlong 37,000-mile journey around the world to learn how to pray. He danced with Hasidic Jews, discovered the 330 year of home of Brother Lawrence, Practice the Presence of God. He attended the world’s largest church in Seoul Korea and meets the Pope for lunch.

Along the journey recorded in his recent book, “The Year of Living Prayerfully” he has incredible experiences listening to people talk about prayer. Though it he begins to understand the wide open world of living prayerfully.

One of his conclusion is:

“Prayer is the main dish and everything else is gravy”

I believe this!

Jerrod learned prayer by listening for one-year to people who prayed.

If we are honest we all are novices, we are all novices when it comes to prayer. We don’t know what we are doing and we may not really understand the God to whom we are talking. It’s a good thing that God doesn’t judge our prayers. But he helps our prayers. We pray, “Lord help me learn how to pray- so it really makes a difference.”

The apostle Paul encourages us with these words,

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.      Romans 8:26

Living prayerfully? It’s learning how to pray. Not assuming I already know.

It’s like learning anything.

·     First you have to hear about it. Learn about it observe it.

·     Then you practice it.

·     Lastly, it just becomes a part of what you do. You live it. It becomes a part of you.

We live in a most anxious time. Do you feel it?

…the prevailing anxiety in our culture of anxiety?

So many of people have an anxiousness that is right below the surface of their lives. Think of the tensions between the haves and have not’s, the tensions between races, the tension between political views. Anxiousness is everywhere.

I believe this must be resisted.

When people are anxious, all sorts of bad stuff shows up. They complain and swear and curse. Did you ever notice how complaining when things go wrong robs you of your joy? Living prayerfully stops me in my tracks. Damning things that go wrong, swearing at people who act stupidly, what does it do to me? When I humble myself before God and pray, I acknowledge that everything I do and say is in the presence of God.

The world doesn’t need our anger or compliant, it needs our prayer. Living prayerfully reorients our hearts away from whining and complaining to gratefulness. We need to pray:

·     When we’re tired and keep telling ourselves how weary we are.

·     When we’re frustrated and want everyone to know it.

·     When we just can’t see a way through.

·     When life is going good.

How do we pray for the things that cause us anxiety? That can be tough, there is a lot to be anxious about! I know I have had to work thought it. But the apostle Paul gives us good advice when facing anxious times.

He said,

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6 NIV

An anxious heart prevents us from receiving from God. How so? It weighs us down. God peace and presence cannot enter. Anxiousness is relieved in a country when its people look to God in prayer. Anxiety is refocused on God though prayer. The Message says it this way,

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. Philippians 4:7

Anxiety is relieved as we allow God to lift our needs.

It moves us from anxiousness to faith! Living prayerfully is to live non-anxiously.

Living prayerfully and not anxiously is three things.

·     Firstly, you hear what the Lord is saying to you in his word. To live prayerfully is to listen to God saying “lay your anxious heart down”.  

·     Then you practice praying with faith and not worry as the driver in your life. Anxious prayer does us no good. To pray without worry- pray without the anxiety we are so prone to let drive us - is a habit to be learned.

·     Lastly, you live it. It becomes a part of you.

What if this coming year you and I determine to live prayerfully and never to let our prayers and our daily lives be driven by any kind of worry? Anticipate how life changing that will be. 

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    You can’t follow Jesus without the church!  When children are small they have many irrational fears. The fear of the dark, the fear of being alone, the fear of “what’s in my closet?” or “what’s under my bed?”. But the fear abates when someone they love and trust is with them even in the dark. Dark times and irrational fears are not limited to childhood. We carry these with us. While the boogey man and “what’s under my bed” fears go away because of our experience, living life when life is unclear and uncertain can certainly stir up fears; real or imagined. How do we shed those fears and move forward? We need people in our lives that we love and trust. Fear often does not dissipate while going it alone.  So many people, so many Jesus followers say the most asinine thing. “I don’t need to go to church to be a good person.” Why do I think this is foolish? Because I have been an idiot to think this as well. I have tried to do life alone. This does not work! I am who I am because of the social connections I have. People support me.  People who share my faith values keep me sane. When the anxiousness of trying harder to make life work increases, supportive people help it decrease. We all need people who laugh with us, discuss life with us and lend a hand when we need it.  Let me give you an example. Quite a few years ago I decided to replace my deck and build a bigger better version. Good thing too, as I dismantled the old one I discovered the support beams were rotted out. They fell apart in my hands. What you need to know about my endeavor is that was going from a 12x12 foot deck to a 22x14 foot deck with an additional wrap around space of 10x12. Also it’s actually 2 decks, a lower and upper deck. The upper deck is about 20 feet high and the lower one about 10. Also I wanted to add stairs connecting the two. What I did was begin a project that was way over my head! I had no idea how to anchor this massive project. I had no idea how to actually build it. I just started asking people for advice, which is actually a plea for help. At each phase a new challenge arose. As each phase someone materialized that knew what they were doing. Now many years later my deck has been enjoyed by my friends and envied by my neighbors (at least this is my happy perception).              What began as a lone project, emerged as a community of people with different skills to help make this happen. It was the friendship and trust of people that created an object of beauty and purpose. Isn’t this the way so many of us live? We bumble through our lives thinking we’ll figure it out on our own, and then end up needing others to help us. Could I have built the deck on my own? Absolutely. It would have been inferior, probably unsafe and I just might have had to have been hospitalized. I need someone to walk alongside me. I needed people with more expertise than I had to finish the project.              You and I are a project in some ways. We are a work in progress. We often get over our heads and but foolishly think, “I just have to figure this out.” You may never figure it out. You will certainly never be the person of faith you want to be on your own. You have to ask, “Who’s going to walk beside me?” So let’s quite kidding ourselves and think we can follow Jesus alone. We need faith friends along the way. Some may say that “I’m fine.” I have a few friends and my family. I don’t need the church.” This is crazy thinking. Sure you’ll be “fine”, whatever that means. But you will not be the person God has in mind. A switch had to happen in our thinking. It has to be from a “me” centered spirituality, where I am the creator and measure of my life, to a “we” centered spirituality, where people different from me, and may I say, even frustratingly different than me, help craft my life. For life flows in a community of people. Life flows from people who are like “Iron shaping iron.” Too often I discount the very people God put in my life because they upset me or make me uncomfortable. So we retreat into our own self-made enclaves; people like me who like me, people like me who I like. Again, I craft my own life. The deck that we built came from people very much unlike me. Some were friends I like to hang out with (Until I don’t like hanging out with them) and some were acquaintances. But they were not people I chose, they were people I needed.  You may live a relatively happy life without the church, but you certainly will not live a very Christ shaped one. And you perhaps may not like in the end who you end up being.   

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You can’t follow Jesus without the church!

When children are small they have many irrational fears. The fear of the dark, the fear of being alone, the fear of “what’s in my closet?” or “what’s under my bed?”. But the fear abates when someone they love and trust is with them even in the dark. Dark times and irrational fears are not limited to childhood. We carry these with us. While the boogey man and “what’s under my bed” fears go away because of our experience, living life when life is unclear and uncertain can certainly stir up fears; real or imagined. How do we shed those fears and move forward? We need people in our lives that we love and trust. Fear often does not dissipate while going it alone.

So many people, so many Jesus followers say the most asinine thing. “I don’t need to go to church to be a good person.” Why do I think this is foolish? Because I have been an idiot to think this as well. I have tried to do life alone. This does not work! I am who I am because of the social connections I have. People support me.

People who share my faith values keep me sane. When the anxiousness of trying harder to make life work increases, supportive people help it decrease. We all need people who laugh with us, discuss life with us and lend a hand when we need it.

Let me give you an example. Quite a few years ago I decided to replace my deck and build a bigger better version. Good thing too, as I dismantled the old one I discovered the support beams were rotted out. They fell apart in my hands. What you need to know about my endeavor is that was going from a 12x12 foot deck to a 22x14 foot deck with an additional wrap around space of 10x12. Also it’s actually 2 decks, a lower and upper deck. The upper deck is about 20 feet high and the lower one about 10. Also I wanted to add stairs connecting the two. What I did was begin a project that was way over my head! I had no idea how to anchor this massive project. I had no idea how to actually build it. I just started asking people for advice, which is actually a plea for help. At each phase a new challenge arose. As each phase someone materialized that knew what they were doing. Now many years later my deck has been enjoyed by my friends and envied by my neighbors (at least this is my happy perception).

            What began as a lone project, emerged as a community of people with different skills to help make this happen. It was the friendship and trust of people that created an object of beauty and purpose. Isn’t this the way so many of us live? We bumble through our lives thinking we’ll figure it out on our own, and then end up needing others to help us. Could I have built the deck on my own? Absolutely. It would have been inferior, probably unsafe and I just might have had to have been hospitalized. I need someone to walk alongside me. I needed people with more expertise than I had to finish the project.

            You and I are a project in some ways. We are a work in progress. We often get over our heads and but foolishly think, “I just have to figure this out.” You may never figure it out. You will certainly never be the person of faith you want to be on your own. You have to ask, “Who’s going to walk beside me?” So let’s quite kidding ourselves and think we can follow Jesus alone. We need faith friends along the way. Some may say that “I’m fine.” I have a few friends and my family. I don’t need the church.” This is crazy thinking. Sure you’ll be “fine”, whatever that means. But you will not be the person God has in mind. A switch had to happen in our thinking. It has to be from a “me” centered spirituality, where I am the creator and measure of my life, to a “we” centered spirituality, where people different from me, and may I say, even frustratingly different than me, help craft my life. For life flows in a community of people. Life flows from people who are like “Iron shaping iron.” Too often I discount the very people God put in my life because they upset me or make me uncomfortable. So we retreat into our own self-made enclaves; people like me who like me, people like me who I like. Again, I craft my own life. The deck that we built came from people very much unlike me. Some were friends I like to hang out with (Until I don’t like hanging out with them) and some were acquaintances. But they were not people I chose, they were people I needed.

You may live a relatively happy life without the church, but you certainly will not live a very Christ shaped one. And you perhaps may not like in the end who you end up being.

 

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