mission

Ask Whatever You Wish

group_prayer"If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples" (John 15:7-8). These words, spoken by Jesus, are a promise for every believer. We can't claim this promise for selfish means, but for those things that, as verse 8 says, glorify God, bear much fruit, and prove that we follow Christ. The first and most obvious question is this: What is it that resonates with the heart of God so much that he seeks out those whom he can bless?

The heartbeat of God is to reach people with the love and gospel of Christ. He wants his church to be on mission with him, making disciples who grow in their knowledge of Christ each day. If this is our prayer, certainly God will answer it and give us what we ask.

There is, however, a second and less obvious question: Are there any conditions to receiving this promise from God? Yes. We must abide in Christ and allow his words to abide in us. To abide in Christ means to dwell in him, to make our home in him. It means that we commune with him in a spirit of prayer each day. This doesn't happen without effort on our part. To set aside time each day to fellowship with the Spirit of God is easy, but it is also easy to forget. We must remember that we have access to the Living Water, who brings refreshment to our souls and power to live for him.

We must also allow the Word of God to abide in us. We must read it, listen to it, and meditate on it. It must saturate our lives. Turn off the distractions that bombard you and focus on the Scriptures.

This year, let's ask whatever we wish and watch God do it.

God's Plans or Our Plans?

falls creekAlways allow for God to interrupt you. This week our church's Student Ministry is at Falls Creek for youth camp. It's a great spiritual experience for students (and adult sponsors as well).

My two youngest children aren't old enough for the youth group, so I stay behind with them. (It's also good to have at least one pastoral staff member in town.) I do, however, always make an appearance at youth camp. I'll never forget that on the day God called me to serve Him vocationally, my pastor, Jimmy Draper, was there to encourage me. It's important to know the big kahuna cares.

Both this year and last year during Falls Creek week, I planned to drive down on Thursday to be with the group. But the Lord had other plans. Both years there happened to be at least one student who couldn't ride down with the youth group on Monday. So, both years I volunteered to change my calendar around and take the students.

Here's the best part: Last year, the lost student I drove to Falls Creek prayed to receive Christ. The same thing just happened this year.

All it takes for God to move in people's lives is to make yourself available to Him. Allow Him to interrupt your plans.

Achieving Your Goals

goalsWhen setting goals--whether personal or professional--a good technique is to use the SMART goal-setting strategy: Specific - What exactly do you want to accomplish with all the details? Measurable - How will you assess your progress and the goal's completion? Attainable - Given your current life-situation, is your goal within your reach? Relevant - Will attaining the goal really help you? Timely - What is the deadline for completing your goal?

If there is something you want or need to do, it may take a brief amount of time to make that goal SMART.

Another very important and often overlooked aspect of achieving your goals is not to do too much at once. In a New York Times article last year, neuroscientists Sandra Aamodt and Sam Wang write, "The brain has a limited capacity for self-regulation, so exerting willpower in one area often leads to backsliding in others.... It can be counterproductive to work toward multiple goals at the same time if your willpower cannot cover all the efforts that are required. Concentrating your effort on one or at most a few goals at a time increases the odds of success."

So why can't you learn a new language, keep a new exercise regimen, change your eating habits, and learn to play the piano all at once? Because God did not design your brain for that level of multitasking.

Gal Josefsberg writes in his blog on fitness, "I wanted to accomplish everything the first week. I had an exercise plan, an eating plan, a plan to cut down on sodas, a plan to jog more and a plan to come up with more plans. It was crazy. I split my will power and focus among so many things that there was no chance of me being successful at any of them." He calls it "The Big Bang Theory." It rarely works. When he cut the list down to one or two at a time, he had much more success.

What goals do you want to accomplish? Write them all down, and then trim the list to a few or even just one. Make it a SMART goal. And then get started!

Called of God

Isaiah 6-8The following is from today's reading of My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. It was a blessing to me, and I hope it is to you as well: Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.Isaiah 6:8.God did not address the call to Isaiah; Isaiah overheard God saying—“Who will go for us?” The call of God is not for the special few, it is for everyone. Whether or not I hear God’s call depends upon the state of my ears; and what I hear depends upon my disposition. “Many are called but few are chosen,” that is, few prove themselves the chosen ones. The chosen ones are those who have come into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ whereby their disposition has been altered and their ears unstopped, and they hear the still small voice questioning all the time—“Who will go for us?” It is not a question of God singling out a man and saying, ‘Now,you go.’ God did not lay a strong compulsion on Isaiah; Isaiah was in the presence of God and he overheard the call, and realized that there was nothing else for him but to say, in conscious freedom—“Here am I; send me.”Get out of your mind the idea of expecting God to come with compulsions and pleadings. When Our Lord called His disciples there was no irresistible compulsion from outside. The quiet, passionate insistence of His “Follow Me” was spoken to men with every power wide awake. If we let the Spirit of God bring us face to face with God, we too will hear something akin to what Isaiah heard, the still small voice of God; and in perfect freedom will say —“Here am I; send me.”

Chambers, O. (1993, c1935). My utmost for his highest : Selections for the year (January 14). Grand Rapids, MI: Discovery House Publishers.