Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Converse of Faith

Luke 22:42
Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.

Jesus knew His time was coming to a close and that He would be arrested soon. Therefore, Jesus decides to have a conversation with God. Jesus is getting ready to face a difficult time in His life and instead of trying to figure out a plan, He talks to God! We need to go to God before we try to figure out a plan of action. Notice what He says in His prayer: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

In other words, Jesus is saying: “God I don’t want to go through this torture. The last thing I want is to be hung on a cross. Father, if you could come up with another way to redeem humanity, I’d thoroughly appreciate it. But God, it is not about what I want, it is about what you want. Therefore, I’m going to trust you and put my faith in you!” This is a prayer of faith. A prayer of faith says, “God even when it makes no sense to me, I’m going to still trust you!”

One thing we should observe is that praying in faith doesn’t mean you’ll get what you want! A prayer of faith is accepting what God wants and allowing God to work through your situation, no matter your situation. Far too often we have a tendency to believe that if we just have enough faith, God will give us whatever “WE” want. This idea could not be further from the truth. The problem is that people fall into this way of thinking and then become disappointed in their prayers. They think to themselves: “But I really, really, really believed what I was saying! Why didn’t God do want I told Him to do?”

When we pray, we often feel like we are entitled to whatever we ask of God.  We convince ourselves that we deserve anything and everything we pray for. We tell God:

I witnessed to 3 people today at work...
I gave a lot of money to the church this week...
I told my wife how beautiful she was today...
I played catch with my kid...
Therefore, God I deserve ____________(fill in the blank)

You see, Jesus prays and asks God to do something good. It is not like Jesus is praying, “Father, could you give me that Ralph Lauren tunic I’ve been wanting or those Nike sandals in the storefront window or that new Chevrolet Donkey they just came out with?” No! Jesus says, “Father, I don’t want to go out like this!” Jesus genuinely prays for God to provide another way, but ultimately says, “God, it’s not about what I want, it’s about what You want!” This is the way we need to start praying.

When was the last time you prayed this way and really meant it? We sometimes say in our prayers, “Not my will, but your will be done,” because we feel like we have to or we say it because we want to cover for our lack of faith that God will actually answer us. Sometimes I feel like we use this little tag line at the end of our prayers as a reverse psychology. We say, “God you know what I want, but I want what you want. But you really know what I want, but if it’s not what you want I understand. But you know right?”

It is my desire for us to understand what it means to pray in faith. I want us to believe what we are praying for, but more importantly I want us to have faith in the Person we are praying to. Prayer is one of the greatest gifts that we have been given and we not only neglect it, we have a tendency to abuse it. We try to manipulate our prayers in a way to get what we want. We word our prayers in a fancy fashion to impress God and get what we want. Prayer was never intended to be used this way.

Payer is our vehicle to speak with God. It is humanity’s way of having a conversation with the Creator of the universe. It is God’s way of getting us to align with His will, not the other way around.

I'm praying for you as you seek to pray in faith this week!

Grace & Peace, Marc

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Wisdom of God


Have you ever seen the Wizard of Oz (1939)? I’m sure you have and even if you haven’t, I know you’ve heard of it. If you’ve never heard of this film, I want to offer you a moment to crawl out from under the rock you’ve been living under for the past 70+ years.

This is a beautiful story about a girl named Dorothy and her dog Toto who were caught up in a tornado and ended up in the Land of Oz. Dorothy meets some good friends on her way to meet the Wizard of Oz, who everyone says can get her back to Kansas. Along her journey she runs into the Scarecrow who is in desperate need of a brain. She then encounters the Tin Woodman who longs for a heart. Finally, she bumps into the Cowardly Lion who wishes for courage. There is only one problem, the Wicked Witch of the West is out to get them all!  

For the next few weeks we are going to look at the Wizard of Oz and see how we can gain some Wisdom of God through the process.

Are you like Dorothy? Dorothy is scared to death that her evil neighbor is going to put Toto to sleep; therefore she escapes reality and finds herself in the Land of Oz. Are you trying to run away from a problem you have? Well, you are not the only one! Jonah ran away as well. We will be looking at Jonah 1:1-17 as we look at why it is important to not run away from what you perceive as a problem.

Are you like the Scarecrow? Do you ever feel like you could use some more brain? Me too! I mean, I could use some more brain, not that you needed more brains! Far too often we are stuck in the past, unable to do what God wants us to do because we continue to think about what we use to do or who we use to be. We are going to look at Romans 12:1-2 and see how we must allow God to transform our minds and become who He wants us to be.

Are you like the Tin Woodman? Do you ever think to yourself that your heart may not be in the right place? We are in desperate need of a complete heart transplant and there is only one Cardiologist that can do this type of procedure. We will be looking at Ezekiel 36:26 and talking about the story of God, Ezekiel and Israel and how God has the ability and desire to completely change our hearts.

Are you like the Cowardly Lion? Are you in need of some courage to do what God has called you to do? Many times we fear doing what God wants us to, but we need to realize that if God wants us to do it, He promises to be with us. It is for that reason that we can be courageous. We will look at Joshua 1:1-9 and see how God called Joshua to be courageous because He promised to be with him every step of the way.

You better not be like the Wicked Witch! Have you ever noticed that on the path towards God we have a tendency to listen to the lies of Satan? We have listened to Satan far too much. This is why we run away from our problems, this is why we stay stuck in our past, this is why we allow our hearts to remain cold and callused, and this is why we fail to be courageous in living for God. We will be looking at various passages of Scripture (Jn8:44, 1Jn4:4, 1Pt5:8) that will help us understand that Satan is a liar and that God is the real deal.

This series will begin OCTOBER 2, 2011! Hope you can make it!

Grace & Peace, Marc

Monday, September 19, 2011

iMarriage: Transforming Your Expectations (Andy Stanley)

The adult Sunday morning class will begin a new discussion series THIS SUNDAY (09.25.11 @9.30am EST)! We are going to be looking at Andy Stanley’s “iMarriage: Transforming Your Expectations.” Here’s the breakdown:

1: Great Expectations
We all had a picture of marriage before we said “I Do.” The problem is that our picture of marriage has become expectations that we place on our spouse…not good!

2: When Expectations Collide
Sometimes these expectations can squeeze the love and intimacy out of our marriages. Since we cannot deny these expectations, we need to learn how to deal with them.

3: One to Another
To have a Christian marriage we have to get to the place where neither spouse feels like the other one owes them anything. This is all about mutual submission folks!

4: Husbands & Wives
Husbands and wives need to start loving and submitting to each other; this is God’s recipe for a great marriage.

5: It Takes Three
God needs to be part of your marriage. In fact, God is the one who fulfills our needs and desires, not our spouse.

6: Box Talk
This session will give us insights into how to talk about our desires in marriage.

Each week we will have a 10-15 minute video over each session and then we will discuss what we have learned. I have ordered workbooks for each couple to have and to hold and to cherish and to complete. I hope this series is meaningful to you and your marriage. Since God created marriage, it might be important for us to work on ours. Hope to see you Sunday!!!!

Grace & Peace, Marc

PS. I have watched the sessions and I can already see the areas I will be working on!

Converse of Intervention

Yesterday we talked about the Converse of Intervention and we used Samuel as our guiding point for discussion. Our passage comes from Samuel’s farewell speech in 1 Samuel 12:23, “As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right.”

Samuel knew the Israelites didn’t need an earthly king, but they demanded one anyway. Sam has poured his heart and soul into these people and they won't even listen to him. He has tried to get them to see their need for a heavenly King, but all they care about is an earthly one.

As a leader, it is hard when you lead people who won’t follow your counsel. This is what happens with Sam, but instead of doing what most pastors do in their farewell speech: giving the deacons, the church council or worse the congregation the what-for, Samuel tells them that he is going to continue to pray for them and to teach them what is right and good. Samuel could have justified his actions if he would have given up on these Israelites and told them off, but that's not what he did.

The reality is this: you and I have given up on people. We have written people off as if they do not matter to God. We have tried to encourage people who won't listen, and now we no longer talk to them. We have attempted to minister to people who aren't accepting, and we are sick of it. There are people in our past that we used to pray for, but we told ourselves that they will never change and therefore we no longer pray for them.

Who have you given up on?
Who do you need to start praying for today?

Even when people give you multiple reasons to give up on them: DON'T!

“far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right.”

Grace & Peace, Marc

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Converse of Intervention

Come on out this wkd and see what it means to pray for other people. I am sure there are people in your life that you need to be praying for! Check out a video overview of what we will be looking at this Sunday!

Grace & Peace, Marc

Monday, September 12, 2011

Lunch w/ Eric

I have been blessed this semester, because I have the privilege of eating lunch with Eric. Eric works in the cafeteria and his shift is over at 12:30. After work he graces us with his presence around our table. I am happy that he has become one of my lunch buddies.

I love eating lunch with Eric, because I smile and laugh the whole time we are together. Eric is a great kid who has the unique ability to bring a smile to everyone’s face. He says some of the funniest stuff. For example, the other day Eric told me I looked like Kevin from “Home Alone.” I laughed out loud, because I do not resemble him at all. I told him I disagreed and he said, “You’re right, you look like Steve Urkel.” I have to admit I look a little like Urkel.

Eric has not developed in some areas that I have, but I realize that he has developed in areas I haven’t. Eric is kind, lovable, gracious, sensitive, friendly, pure and a whole list of other great attributes. I have learned a lot at our lunch table. I have realized the importance of bringing a smile to a person's face. I have discovered that a conversation at lunch can change the rest of a person’s day.

Therefore, I ask you a couple of questions: When was the last time you brought a smile to someone’s face? When was the last time your conversation changed someone’s day for the better?

Allow the light of Christ to shine through you today, just like Eric does at our lunch table!

Grace & Peace, Marc

Friday, September 9, 2011

Converse of Request


Come check out this message about asking, seeking and knocking!

Grace & Peace, Marc

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Converse w/ God

(Video) New Sermon Series: Converse w/ God

Converse of Praise
Converse of Request
Converse of Intervention
Converse of Faith

I hope you're able to make it THIS SUNDAY for the start of a new series!

Grace & Peace, Marc