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/

10 Reasons Why We Must Love Unlovable Church Members

No matter how unloving church members can be, I can’t avoid Jesus’ telling us to love God and neighbor (Matt. 22:34-40). Nor can I run from New Testaments commands that we love one another (1 Thess. 4:9, 1 Pet. 1:22, 1 John 3:23).  Here are ten reasons why we must love even unlovable church members.

  1. God loves them. He loves the arrogant church member, the person caught in sin, and the follower who denies Him. That’s the point: He who loves all of us with an amazing love expects us to love others similarly.
  2. We show the power of the gospel by loving all people.  Jesus said our love for one another would be one way to show the world His love (John 13:34-35). Being family means we must love even those who occasionally drive the family crazy.
  3. We live in Christian obedience when we show love toward all. Christian love is an active love, a doing love – evidenced by how we act toward others. Christian love means we act as a Christian toward all people, even when our feelings aren’t there.
  4. Some unlovable church members need Jesus. Among a church family are likely to be those who believe they’re Christian, but who never truly repented and believed. They need to see genuine Christian love so they might recognize their need for Christ.
  5. Some unlovable church members are undiscipled believers acting like undiscipled people. Some church members are really still babies in Christ, despite their years in the church. They need someone to help them see how much they need to grow – but it needs to be someone who truly loves them.

Read therest of Chuck’s blog: http://chucklawless.com/2021/05/10-reasons-why-we-must-love-unlovable-church-members/

10 Thoughts About Worship I Wish I’d Known Earlier

Chuck Lawless

 

As I reflect on my early years as a believer and a young pastor, I realize now how little I knew about worship. I think my worship would have been more focused and powerful had I known some of these things back then:

  1. Corporate worship really matters. COVID has reminded us of what we had taken for granted. The combined praises of God’s people are powerful, especially when we listen to each other worship.
  2. We waste a lot of time in worship services. The time-wasters, in fact, are numerous. Making churchwide announcements that apply to only one group. Preaching disorganized, rambling sermons. Talking too much between songs. I could go on and on. . . .
  3. Many hymns have great theology. As a younger leader, I grew weary with many hymns—but I judged them then more on their sing-ability than on their theology.
  4. Many praise choruses are straight from the Bible. I didn’t always recognize that fact, though, so I missed out on the connection with the Word.
  5. We who were raised on the repetition of “Do Lord, oh do Lord, oh do remember me” probably shouldn’t get stressed about repetitive choruses today. I’m not arguing for weak choruses; I’m simply saying that we’ve dealt with similar issues in the past.
  6. It’s okay to raise your hands to praise God in worship. I realize others may differ with me here, but I’ve grown comfortable with worshiping physically and publicly while also praying I not draw attention to myself (I trust).
  7. The worship event ought to be the culmination of our turning our heart to God—not the first step in that direction. If we wait until the worship service to get right with God, we’ll miss much of the point of worship: simply honoring Him as holy. Worship ought to be ongoing even before we gather with believers.

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

7 Signs You Might be a “Drive-Thru” Christian

By Chuck Lawless

I admit I’ve spent a lot of time in restaurant drive-thru lines—especially when I was a single adult many years ago. Sometimes, drive-thru options seem to make the most sense for us. Drive-thru Christianity, though, doesn’t work. Use this list to determine if you might be a “Drive-Thru” Christian:

  1. You look for the most convenient, least time-consuming way to follow Christ. Why take extra steps and spend extra time growing spiritually and making disciples if you don’t have to?
  2. Your attendance is sporadic, and you show up for church only when you want or need something. That is, you show up when it’s advantageous – when the church offers you something.
  3. You choose what you want in a church and then expect others to meet that request. All of us, of course, have general ideas of what we want in a church; here, I’m talking about church member consumers who place their order and expect others to serve them.
  4. You let others do the work. After all, that’s what a drive-thru is about: others do the work, you get an inexpensive meal, and then you’re on your way.
  5. Nobody in the church really knows you by name. You’re a “drop-in” face to others, and you don’t give them much opportunity to get to know you.
  6. Your goal is to get in and out as quickly as possible. You’re not interested in conversations. Relationships aren’t that important to you. You go to church because you know you need to, but you don’t want any strings attached.
  7. If you don’t like what’s offered at one church, you just go to the drive-thru at another one. In fact, you have a history of church hopping because apparently no one can meet your needs.

What would you add to this list?

Comment at: https://chucklawless.us10.list-manage.com/track/

10 Reasons Why We Must Love Unlovable Church Members

http://chucklawless.com/2021/05/10-reasons-why-we-must-love-unlovable-church-members/

14 Verses for the Spiritual Battle

https://chucklawless.us10.list-manage.com/track/click?u=1f66ea30867c3c2882f0eae77&id=c8d529182b&e=e8a5edc6f6

The Danger of Reading Books on Prayer – and then, 7 You Might Want to Read

By Chuck Lawless

I start this post with this warning: if you read a book on prayer but don’t pray more, you’ll have missed the point. We all know that truth, but we somehow miss it practically. In fact, here’s what I generally say about prayer: “Prayer is one of those disciplines that if you talk or study about it enough, you’ll think you actually did it whether or not you did.” Think about this strategy for reading a book on prayer:

  • Pray before you start reading it.
  • Every time an insight captures you, thank God for it.
  • Each time the book convicts you about your own prayer weakness, confess it.
  • At the end of each chapter, note some specific, practical steps based on that chapter you will take to pray more regularly and powerfully.
  • When you finish the book, thank God for teaching you.

Here, then, are some books I’d recommend:

  1. A Praying Life by Paul Miller. This book is the most helpful book on prayer I’ve read in the last few years. It’s an honest, practical, and useful call to approach God with a childlike heart. I’d start with reading this book.
  2. Prayer by Tim Keller. This one’s a bit more intense than Miller’s book, but it will challenge you to think deeply about having conversations with God. Keller aims to address theological, experiential, and methodological issues of prayer in this single work, and he meets his goal.
  3. Praying the Bible by Donald Whitney. It’s a short but potent book. If you tend to get bored with prayer because you pray the same way every day, this book offers you a solution. You’ll never read the Scriptures the same way.
  4. A Passion for Prayer by Tom Elliff. I include this book because I know how much Dr. Elliff prays. He understands what it means to have intimacy with God, and you can learn much from him.
  5. With Christ in the School of Prayer by Andrew Murray. The work is older, and the writing can be archaic at times, but it’s worth the time to work through this classic. Murray challenges us to move prayer from a duty to a privilege.
  6. Lord, Teach Us Pastors to Pray” by Chuck Lawless. Forgive the personal promotion, but this book is a quick, easy, practical read (you can read it in one sitting) if you want to grow in your own prayer life. And, it’s free at Church Answers!
  7. Praying with Paul by D. A. Carson. Paul spoke often about praying for the congregations to whom he wrote his letters. Carson uses Paul’s model to help us learn how to pray better. You’ll pray differently after reading this book