Category Archives: God’s will

Abide and Know

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
[John 15:7 ESV]

This isn’t a magical formula. This isn’t prosperity gospel, name it and claimed crap. This isn’t a secret way to get what YOU want.

NO

This is about abiding in Jesus, so much so, that your desires are what God desires. When Jesus says, “ask whatever you wish” he means that when you abide in him, you will ask for whatever glorifies God. What you wish is what God wants.

Prosperity preachers like to twist and misuse this text to mislead you into thinking that life is all about you. If you pray rightly or think rightly or speak rightly or even give rightly then you can have what YOU want; your best life now. Can you see how that verse can be misused? All I can do is roll my eyes at those preachers and pray that they may see the TRUE light.

Abiding in Jesus is intimate fellowship with him; learning God’s will. No magical formula. Just Jesus.

Abide with HIM and know HIM. Then and only then will you have your heart’s desire.

The Pastor -|—

Ramblings of a Listening Disicple

Listening is never easy.
It’s hard work.
It means doing something active.
You can’t be passive and also listen.
It takes focus.
It takes determined attention.

To truly listen is a loving act.

You can hear someone making noise,
but that’s not listening.
You can see someone trying to communicate,
but that’s not listening.
You can be aware of someone trying to transmit data,
but that’s not listening.

Listening is focusing, receiving and processing.
Listening is caring about the communicator.

Listening is hard work,
especially when we are talking about
God.
Listening is scary,
especially when we are talking about
God.
Listening is awesome,
most especially when we are talking about
God.

For when we are listening to God;
when we are receiving from God;
when we are obeying God;
we are participating in God’s most awesome and perfect will.

Listening is still scary but it is also awesome.

Oh God, speak to me.

I’m listening…

The (listening) Pastor -|—

Morning devotions ~ What you really need to hear

And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith. [Matthew 21:21-22]

Oh how these verses have been misunderstood and misapplied.
Oh how these verses have been abused and therefore have caused many people to go astray.

If you believe right and have enough faith you can get what you want and “live your best life now”. This is the mantra of the prosperity gospel (not THE Gospel of Jesus Christ). The likes of Joel Osteen have championed this theology and have garnered many adherents, thus leading many people astray. And the reason these prosperity theologians are so “successful” is that this message is something people think they need to hear.

Give me the secret to success.
Tell me how I can be happy now.
How can I feel fulfilled?
How can I live my best life now?

Everything is about this life, now, and nothing about the life to come. It’s about manipulating and controlling God to get what you want. Throw in talk of Jesus and faith and you have enough to trick people into thinking this theology is legit; from the Bible.

Lord have mercy.

But what was Jesus really teaching in Matthew 21 about faith and prayer? Was he giving us a magic formula to get what we want out of prayer?

Absolutely not!

Two things are being shown:
(1) You may have faith, but you still doubt.
(2) If you truly know God you will ask according to God’s will, not your own. It’s then that you receive what you pray for.

The big difference here is that it is not about your happiness now (your will) but your eternal joy (God’s will). It’s about aligning your will with God’s will. It’s about humbling yourself and admitting that you are a sinner. It’s about realizing that without Jesus you can not get out of this world alive. It’s about realizing that you are meant to glorify God and enjoy him forever. This life may be crappy but you still can have joy; that is if you believe Jesus is your Lord and Savior.

So don’t be fooled by false prophets and self-serving prosperity theologians by trying to reach for and cling to happiness in this life now but rather place your faith in Jesus Christ and cling to the hope of the resurrection. Don’t be fooled into thinking that it is about how you have faith rather than who you have faith in.

Jesus is life and salvation and therefore the source of true joy. That right there will give you peace. And THAT my friends is what you really need to hear.

Have a blessed day enjoying God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Pastor -|—

13-year-long winding road

Thirteen years ago today; at 8:30 in the morning; a Tuesday, God used my dad to utter these words:

“Eric, it is time for you to go to seminary.”

I was totally blown away by this and didn’t know how to respond.  My dad went on to say some other words but I can’t remember those…only that call from God.  The rest of the day was a blur as I spent the morning with my two pastors trying to discern what was going on.  They were quick to affirm this call and the rest is history.

Now…13 years later…I am sitting in a church parsonage reflecting on the past 13 years.  What a winding road God has lead me down.

There were times in seminary when I doubted I could do this.  I questioned God and wondered if this really was the road I was supposed to be on.  I nearly got off the road a couple times but God used various people in my life to keep me going. And I thank God for them because as I reflect back on these 13 years it is clear to me that God was indeed leading me along a winding road to bring me here; to Jackson, MN.  I still wonder sometimes why I am here but then God does something and I smile.

Sometimes it is hard to see or imagine that God has a plan.
Sometimes it is tempting to think we know better what we are supposed to do.  Sometimes it is hard to hold the course when the road does wind and bend.

But God has been and always will be faithful.  And it is so much fun to look back and see those moments.  In those times when I thought God was crazy, confused, oblivious, God was working out something wonderful. God sees the whole and complete picture…and…God is working out something wonderful in your life as well.  Listen to God; listen carefully.  Trust Him…for God will not lead you down the wrong road.  Let God be your guide because in the end you will indeed experience something wonderful as you see God being glorified in your life.

So I sit here today; in this church parsonage; reflecting on that call 13 years ago. It’s been an interesting ride and I look forward to seeing what else God will do through me.

God is awesome!
God is faithful!

Praise be to God!

The pastor -|—

Eyes of Faith

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
[1 John 5:13-15]

A big misconception I keep running into about the Christian faith is that we can somehow get what we want from God when we pray.

If we live the right kind of life.
If we are kind to others.
If we volunteer enough.
If we serve in the church.
If we bring hot meals to the home bound.
If we are “good” people (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that one).
If we ask in the right way.
Etc, etc, etc…

And when people don’t get what they want they become disillusioned  about God and the whole point of even trying to be a Christian.  The problem isn’t that God is being a bully but that we are not understanding who God is and what our relationship looks like.  We are not understanding our place in this creation and what God has called us to be.  Despite what Joel Osteen says we can’t get what we want from God if we try really hard or have the right attitude.

It’s not about us or getting what we want when we want it, it’s about giving praise and glory to God.

Scripture repeatedly talks about praying according to God’s will.  The problem is that sometimes our will doesn’t line up with God’s will.  In that case we need to pray for understanding and patience.  We need to have eyes of faith to see what God is up to.  We need to understand that we are to draw others to God and we do that by living according to God’s will.

It might not be God’s will that you get that promotion or new job.
It might not be God’s will that your child get’s into that Ivy League school.
It might not be God’s will that healing comes.

But God’s will…whatever it is…WILL be awesome, because, well…it’s from our sovereign God.

So the next time you pray open your eyes of faith and watch God do His thing.  And the more we do that the more we come in line with his will.  And what a place to be.

edh -|—

God vs technology…and God won

Merry Christmas everyone!

I have to tell you about a God moment that I had yesterday right before I started preaching.

The text I was preaching on was John 1:19-28 (but I “warmed up” the congregation with John 1:1-18).  On Thursday I found what I thought to be a good opening illustration and copied it into the manuscript.  It wasn’t the best but it still worked.  I then wrote the opening part of the sermon before getting into the “meat”.  The main part was a biblical exposition of John which I did not write out word for word (that was the part I knew very well).  I saved the sermon on my computer and then transferred it to my Kindle (as I sometimes do).

Sunday morning ~ Everything went well at Belmont (8:30am worship), but when I got to the pulpit at Salem (10:15am worship) God decided to show me that he has a sense of humor ~ and more importantly that God is in control.

As the lector was reading the lessons I turned on my Kindle and pulled up the sermon.  I then placed my Kindle in “sleep mode” until I would “wake it up” in the pulpit.  So far so good.  Nothing unusual.

Then…well…God happened 🙂

I got into the pulpit and read the Gospel text and then proceeded to open the cover of my Kindle.

It was locked up.

Nothing worked.  It just stared at me as if to say “Hey buddy…you’re on your own.”  A moment of panic set in as I tried to determine what I was going to do without letting the congregation know there was a problem.  I knew I couldn’t go on with my opening part of the sermon since I didn’t know it well enough but I did know the main part of the sermon (“the meat”) like the back of my hand.

And then I got it…God didn’t like my sermon opening.

So…on the fly (and by the power of the Holy Spirit)…I began preaching…and the words just came out.  As I got going more, I got into the sermon and before long my Kindle problems were a distance memory.  After worship I got more good comments about that sermon than I have received in a long time…and from people who normally don’t comment.  Praise be to God!!!

I told this story to someone and they suggested I have a backup copy of the sermon on hand next time.  Sounds like a logical suggestion but part of me is not too sure I want to do that…

You see…on Sunday, God was in control…and I like that.  Isn’t that the way it should be?

edh -|—

P.S. Following worship my Kindle started working perfectly 🙂

Let’s go to Nineveh

Jonah 1:1-3
The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.”  But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.

Almighty God ~ You are a loving and compassionate God; slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
Jonah knew this but didn’t really KNOW this.
We know this but in the same way we really don’t KNOW this.

or

Maybe it is that we really don’t want to believe this.  We want you to be compassionate and loving toward us but let’s not get too wild here.  Let’s not get too crazy or go overboard.  After all…there are people out there we would rather not see in community with us.

But your ways are not our ways.
Your plans are not our plans.
Your vision is not our vision.

Grant us faith to go where you call us to go; even if that means going to Nineveh (to those we would rather not see saved).
Grant us faith to trust your will.
Grant us faith to TRULY see your love and compassion for people.

Because if we truly think about it, we are Ninevites.  We incurred your wrath but you sent Jesus (whom we crucified).  But through faith in Jesus ~ responding to his message ~ receiving your forgiveness, you relented from the punishment due to us.  May we serve and praise you for that amazing love and compassion.

We don’t deserve it ~ no one does. But according to your will, lead us as we follow you to Nineveh.

Praising you always and forever!  Amen!

edh -|—