8 Markers of Pivotal Spiritual Moments in My Life

By Chuck Lawless on Jan 03, 2022 01:00 am

I hesitated to write this post, as I always fear bringing too much attention to myself on this site. At the same time, I am in one of those moments in my spiritual journey where I just know God is up to something – one of those times that can become a marker moment. I’ve not had many of these moments in the past, but each time has been characterized by several things:

  1. Seldom has any event precipitated the spiritual moment. God in His sovereignty simply ordained the time and the process for me at that moment. It has often seemed to occur unexpectedly and surprisingly.
  2. I am forced to pray what I’ve often encouraged others to pray: “Lord, I sense You’re in the process of doing something in my life. Do whatever You must to get me there.”  That can be a frightening prayer, but anything less than that prayer makes my teaching hypocritical. It’s an expression of confidence in the Lord’s love.
  3. My sin—from the smallest to the biggest—has become ever more apparent . . . but so has His forgiveness. It’s agonizing, actually. I more deeply appreciate God’s forgiveness, but I also see myself in all my spiritual nakedness through the years.
  4. Prayer has been more powerful, with a much stronger focus on God and His glory than on me and my needs. Sometimes, I’ve simply lain on the floor and praised God for who He is and what He’s done. Those times are powerfully different from other prayer times.
  5. Bible study has been uniquely fresh—almost like when I became a believer and read the Word for the first time. I wake up in the morning wanting to hear from God, and I go to bed at night wondering what He will teach me the next day.
  6. My burden over lost people—most often, over particular lost people—has been so great that it keeps me awake at night. And, I know why that is: God has given us the unique privilege of interceding for others (e.g., Rom 10:1), and sleeplessness is for me a call to prayer. Uninterrupted and unhindered in the night, I pray for folks to get saved.
  7. Fasting has become the norm, not because I want to carry out the discipline but because I want God more than I want food. I don’t even “plan” the fasting times during these spiritual moments. They just happen because my delight in God—and my desire to know Him more—overwhelm my desire for food.
  8. Laying my life on the altar again, fully surrendering my dreams and visions for the future, is not only right, but also exciting. I don’t know what God will want from me, but I do know that His will is always perfect. Trusting Him afresh with the unknown is sweet indeed.

What about you? What are some markers for your spiritual moments?

 

Comment at: https://chucklawless.us10.list-manage.com/track/click?u=1f66ea30867c3c2882f0eae77&id=9b81eb810e&e=e8a5edc6f6

5 Things to Do when the Church Service Seems to Lack “Fire”

By Chuck Lawless

Some church services are cold – and I don’t mean the room temperature. Instead, there simply is little sense of Christian warmth, little indication of Holy Spirit-given “fire” when the congregation gathers. If that’s sometimes the case in your church, maybe one of these suggestions will be encouraging to you:

  1. Pray you’re reading the situation properly – but, more importantly, be sure to pray for God’s love and power to be evident in the congregation. My goal is that we would not get discouraged by the situation, but that we would instead pray God’s blessing on the group. In general, it’s a good rule to pray first for the Lord’s wisdom and insight before we reach conclusions.
  2. Remember that all kinds of things can contribute to an apparent lack of “fire.” It could be that the church is dealing with internal conflict. It could also be they’re dealing with corporate grief over some tragedy in the church family or the announcement of a departing staff member. Maybe the church has spent little time praying together. Or, it could even be that a bunch of folks are just tired . . . . My point is that we may not know the cause of the coldness, so we should not immediately make a judgment about the church.
  3. Pray specifically for those who lead the worship service. They may or may not recognize the coldness. But, my experience has been that the leaders are often aware when something is amiss. In fact, sometimes our own situations and struggles contribute to the problem. Pray your church leaders would not be distracted or discouraged as they lead the congregation to encounter God.
  4. Give yourself fully to the worship experience. Regardless of your assessment of the situation, don’t be part of the problem. Come to the service with your heart in tune with God. Pray before you join other believers, and ask the Lord to give you godly expectation for the service. Bring the “fire” with you.
  5. Watch for “glimpses” of God’s work among the congregation. I’ve previously written about the value of daily seeing the glimpses of God’s glory in our lives, but it’s especially important to watch for them in worship. Sometimes a fire starts with just an ember – with a spark of the hand of God moving in a life. You may not immediately see that spark, but you’ll approach the service differently if you believe God is still doing that kind of work. And, He is . . . .

Readers, let’s agree together to pray for the “fire” of God to be evident in the services of all our churches this weekend!

Comment at: https://chucklawless.com/2021/12/5-things-to-do-when-the-church-service-seems-to-lack-fire/

8 Evidences I’m Not as Grateful as I Thought I Was

By Chuck Lawless

This past Thanksgiving week, I spent some time with believers who have lived in an impoverished, risky place in the world. Their faith deeply challenged me—especially their thankful hearts. Even though I heard their stories only through translation, their gratitude put my “thanksgiving” to shame. Here are my reflections:

  1. I too often tie my value to what I have gained more than to what God has done for me. When you have very little, though, you learn the value of prioritizing a relationship with your Creator.
  2. I take for granted what others consider to be incredible blessings. When other believers from around the world are astounded at the number of food options we have available in our grocery stories, you can’t help but take a good look at your heart.
  3. I’m not convinced others see undeniable joy in me just because God has saved me. I hope I’m wrong, but I’m not sure. I am certain my joy is not as apparent as that of my new friends I met this past week.
  4. I far too easily get stressed by hardships—rather than thank God for what they teach me.Frankly, I’m amazed by how quickly I get frustrated at little things after hearing the stories of these other believers who deal with much weightier matters.
  5. My faith costs me very little, but I’ve not often expressed thanksgiving for God’s ongoing care and protection. The only reason I’ve not faced what other believers have faced is that God has graciously granted provision and shelter. I have much reason to say, “Thank you.”
  6. I might talk about God’s gift to allow me to preach the Word without fear of persecution, but my gratitude is probably only surface level. I typically think otherwise—but that thinking changes when I meet believers who proclaim the Word in spite of real opposition. 
  7. I have failed to say “thank you” enough when I open the Word in my language and in my hands—and when I get to hear others preach in my mother tongue. Even as I write this post, I’m convicted of my need to truly recognize these blessings other brothers and sisters don’t always have.
  8. I tend to give out of my excess rather than out of genuine sacrifice. My friends who’ve had very little actually brought us gifts this past week. That’s humbling.

What about you? In what ways do you recognize your need to be more grateful?

Comment? https://chucklawless.com/2021/11/8-evidences-im-not-as-grateful-as-i-thought-i-was/

10 Things Not to Do at Church This Weekend

https://chucklawless.us10.list-manage.com/track/click?u=1f66ea30867c3c2882f0eae77&id=386d28e22a&e=e8a5edc6f6

9 Things to Thank God for Tomorrow (and Today)

By Chuck Lawless

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. If your family expresses gratitude together at some point during the day, consider including these reasons to be grateful in your prayer list:

  1. That we have access to the entirety of God’s Word in our language. Much of the world has no such blessing.
  2. That God has saved us and made us His children. With 4 billion+ persons in the world with little or no access to the gospel, we cannot take this gift for granted.
  3. That He sent someone across our path to introduce us to the gospel. My “someone” was a seventh-grade classmate who spoke truth to me more than 45 years ago—and every year I’m more grateful for him.
  4. That many of us will have more to eat tomorrow in a single meal than some people will have all day. We’re so accustomed to being almost gluttonous that we fail to see God’s blessings of abundant provision.
  5. That, at least for now, we can teach the Word openly without fear of persecution. Again, many believers around the world are not so blessed. They’re faithful anyway, but their faith often costs them much.
  6. That He has called out pastors to lead us. I’m convinced that God calls our pastors with a divine calling, and He raises them up to care for our souls.
  7. That He works through the most difficult times we face to conform us to the image of His Son. He works through our struggles to remind us that he is the strength in our weakness—and that His grace is sufficient for us (2 Cor 12). Gratitude in everything is evidence that God is working in us.
  8. That He gives us a church family. They might at times be difficult, but they’re still family. They’re still our brothers and sisters in Christ.
  9. That God is sovereignly in control of a world that seems out of control. I don’t know about you, but I’m even more grateful for that truth after the last 18 months of COVID.

What would you add to this list?

Read in browser »

8 Thoughts that Help Me Trust God when I Don’t Understand

By Chuck Lawless

I don’t always understand what God is doing in my life. I struggle sometimes when He takes His time answering my prayer—or when His answer isn’t what I wanted or expected. At other times, He just seems strangely silent. In all these times, I turn to thoughts like these:

  1. His ways are not my ways (Isa 55:8). That means I shouldn’t be surprised when I don’t fully grasp what He’s up to. Sometimes He answers differently than I wanted to remind me that He’s God—and I’m to trust and follow Him.
  2. I have never seen Him forsake His people. The psalmist reached that conclusion long before I did—”I have not seen the righteous abandoned or his children begging for bread” (Psa 37:25)—but I cling to that reality when I don’t understand.
  3. His calendar doesn’t always fit my calendar. His plans are not limited to my plans, and He seldom responds exactly according to my ideas of what He should do. Or when He should do it.
  4. My seeming emergency is not His emergency.  I’m the one who gets stressed by apparent crisis. He’s not . . . at all. You don’t have to operate in crisis mode when you control eternity.
  5. He always knows what’s best for me, and I can only think I do. God knows exactly where He is in the process of conforming me to His image (Rom 8:29). He knows where I still need to grow—and He knows the best way to get me there.
  6. He sees the whole picture when I can see only in part. And, I, like so many others, tend to see only what I want to see. I see the struggle, and He sees how the struggle will grow me.
  7. Occasionally, God gives me no details of what He’s doing, but I later learn He was protecting me from something. That’s the kind of lesson I usually learn only after time has passed, when I’ve had time to reflect. Until that time comes, though, I need to trust the One who has always guided me perfectly in the past.
  8. If what I don’t understand keeps me weak, that’s a good place to be. That’s because His strength becomes most real in me when I’m weak (2 Cor 12:6-9). The problem is that I often fight against my weakness with all my might—and I miss the point of what God is doing.

What would you add? What helpful thoughts do you have when you don’t understand?

Comment at: http://chucklawless.com/2021/10/8-thoughts-that-help-me-trust-god-when-i-dont-understand/

8 Thoughts That Help Me Trust God When I Don’t Understand

I don’t always understand what God is doing in my life. I struggle sometimes when He takes His time answering my prayer—or when His answer isn’t what I wanted or expected. At other times, He just seems strangely silent. In all these times, I turn to thoughts like these:

  1. His ways are not my ways (Isa 55:8). That means I shouldn’t be surprised when I don’t fully grasp what He’s up to. Sometimes He answers differently than I wanted to remind me that He’s God—and I’m to trust and follow Him.
  2. I have never seen Him forsake His people. The psalmist reached that conclusion long before I did—”I have not seen the righteous abandoned or his children begging for bread” (Psa 37:25)—but I cling to that reality when I don’t understand.
  3. His calendar doesn’t always fit my calendar. His plans are not limited to my plans, and He seldom responds exactly according to my ideas of what He should do. Or when He should do it.
  4. My seeming emergency is not His emergency.  I’m the one who gets stressed by apparent crisis. He’s not . . . at all. You don’t have to operate in crisis mode when you control eternity.

Read the rest: http://chucklawless.com/2021/10/8-thoughts-that-help-me-trust-god-when-i-dont-understand/

5 Reminders About Making Good Pastoral Care Visits

http://chucklawless.com/2021/10/thursdays-with-todd-linn-5-reminders-about-making-good-pastoral-care-visits/

10 Times When Prayer is Not Enough

By Chuck Lawless on Jul 27, 2021 01:00 am

First, a caveat. If you read this blog regularly, you know my commitment to prayer. So, I am in no way arguing that prayer is somehow ineffective or unnecessary. I simply want us to think about times when we need to do more than pray:

  1. When we’re praying for someone to get saved, but we’ve made no attempt to share the gospel with that person. God is surely sovereign over salvation, but He uses us to tell the story.
  2. When we’re praying for God to bring a wayward believer to return to God, but we’re not willing to confront that believer. Again, God calls us to help restore fallen brothers and sisters (Gal 6:1).
  3. When we pray for God to provide financially for our church, but we’ve offered no stewardship training for our members. Why should God provide when we haven’t discipled?
  4. When we’re asking God to free us from a controlling sin, but we keep putting ourselves in the same wrong place . . . with the same wrong people . . . at the same wrong time. Praying for freedom without also choosing wisely is lacking something. 
  5. When we’re pleading with God to give us clarity about an issue, but we haven’t opened His Word on a regular basis in a long time. We shouldn’t expect God to answer this request when we ignore His primary means of speaking to us. 
  6. When we’re asking God to show us His will, but we already know what we’re going to do regardless. This prayer is a bit superfluous when we’ve already decided what “will” we will follow. 

Read the rest: http://chucklawless.com/2021/07/10-times-when-prayer-is-not-enough/

10 Thoughts About Worship I Wish I’d Known Earlier

http://chucklawless.com/2021/06/10-thoughts-about-worship-i-wish-id-known-earlier/