Hawaiian Ballistic Missile Crisis Reflections

BALLISTIC MISSILE THREAT INBOUND TO HAWAII. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL.[1]

On 13-January-2018 at 8:07am the above statement was my present reality. This alarming message occurred approximately one year ago, and I will never forget where I was and my reaction.

Specifically, I was lying in bed checking my smartphone for any messages that came overnight. While checking Facebook, I noticed many residents on my local neighborhood page asking others if they had received the emergency alert? Interestingly enough, I knew I had not received the warning and now know have made changes in my phone’s settings to receive future alerts.

Fortunately, by the time I saw my neighbor’s concerns I knew it was too late to matter the outcome. Continue reading “Hawaiian Ballistic Missile Crisis Reflections”

PSA: Psalm 42 & Prayer

Today I’m taking a break from my Pastoral Corrections series to share a written piece from a sermon I preached last Sunday. I pray it is a blessing to you!

Psalm 42 begins with the famous lines, “As the deer pants for water, so my soul longs after you.” These words from Psalm 42:1 are a beautiful phrase to start off a passage that addresses the opposite extremes of our faith experience.

The Christian faith is filled with many wonders, riches, and joys as we walk with God. These moments make it easy to say, “As the deer pants for water, so my soul longs after you.” However, life is filled with difficulties that oppose our love for God. There are moments that seem as puzzling as some of the lines in Psalm 42. Lines such as verses 9-10:

“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about in sorrow
because of the enemy’s oppression?”
My adversaries taunt me,
as if crushing my bones,
while all day long they say to me,
“Where is your God?”

These lines appear to stand in direct contrast to the psalms opening line that compare a deer panting for water as us longing for God. Yet, they are not in contrast to another; no, they are complimentary.

Most of us would prefer our view of God that matches the initial perceptions we have of Him. We love the idea of a Candyman God who gives us what we always want. But, life is filled with ups and downs that are unavoidable. As a result, we should embrace these inconveniences because they create unique opportunities to deepen our faith in God. Opportunities that will grow our love and trust who is present in every hope and adversity. Such depth then lets us truly long for God like a deer panting for water because we see His goodness in every circumstance, even when life is difficult.

The question then becomes, “How do we move from a shallow faith to one with depth?” Continue reading “PSA: Psalm 42 & Prayer”

Prayer Made Easy

PrayerPrayer is easy. Prayer is valuable. Prayer is difficult. Prayer is unknown. These phrases among many more begin to describe people’s view of prayer. It’s also helpful to know the most diligent prayer warriors struggle with prayer. Even they desire for their prayer life to grow deeper. However, there is an easy and practical technique one can use to pray better.

Don Whitney has recently written a very small and effective book called, Praying the Bible. In this short book, which can be read in less than two hours, he provides a simple framework to pray better. Mostly he suggests Christians should pray the Psalms.

According to Whitney the Psalms provide the best and most consistent place in scripture to teach us to pray. This is because he believes that every theology taught in the Bible can be found somewhere in the Psalms. Now, he doesn’t want you to neglect the rest of scripture. Rather his point is that by regularly praying through the Psalms one’s prayer life will increase as they learn the theology of scripture too.

As a result, Whitney suggests this should be done by scanning the first five Psalms. In doing so a Christian should be able to find a Psalms they identify with and can begin to pray. As one prays they simply read each line of the Psalm they selected and pray it to the Lord. One may rephrase the line in a way that is more personal and prayerful for them. Also, each line may remind one of other things from their life to pray over. Then once all the reminders have been prayed over the Christian should move on to the next line in the Psalm until finished. Admittedly some lines may not inspire very much prayer. This is acceptable because within each Psalm there are plenty of prompts to increase the ease, interest, and value of one’s prayer life, which is the goal. A goal that can be repeated each day as one returns to pray the next five Psalms.

WhitneyPersonally, I have enjoyed this technique for about two-weeks now. Often I would pray other parts of scripture the same way, but it never occurred to me to make the Psalms my regular practice. In doing so I’ve found that not only has my prayer life increased, I’m personally changing, and my appreciation for biblical poetry is growing. One could argue this technique is already answering prayer due to the ways this new prayer approach is affecting other parts of my life.

In closing, I share this with you not because Dr. Whitney has paid me to or because I received a free copy of the book. I share this with you because this prayer technique is powerful and practical. I’ve already seen it in my life and I believe you can too. I know many people who want to “know how to pray” better. Well, this book is a tool that offers a very simple solution to an old problem. My hope is that you will read it, but my prayer is that your prayer life will grow even more.

 

Journaling: The Importance of SOAP

In the last article I began sharing one of the two ways I journal. Today I offer you my second technique I strive to do each day. This method is much more related to how I process my Bible reading. Therefore, it could serve as a great means for you to not only journal effectively, but understand scripture better. So here it is:

c592f59a37d609f74d2975c648245d78Method #2: S.O.A.P. (by Wayne Corderio: The Divine Mentor)

After reading the heading you may be thinking, “What does soap have to do with journaling?” To be fair, had I not read Wayne Corderio’s book, The Divine Mentor, I would be asking the same question. S.O.A.P. is an acronym that describes the steps to journal through the Bible. Specifically, each step means the following:

(S) = Scripture – Each day I try to journal in response to scripture. This means I write down the text I’m about to reflect on next to the letter “S.” For example, if I’m reading/reflecting on I Corinthians 13. I write, “S = I Cor. 13:1-13.”

(O) = Observation – In this section I write out observations from the text. I pay attention to the people, places, things, and events that occur. I simply notice what the scripture says, period. This means I DO NOT interpret or apply the text. That comes next. Continue reading “Journaling: The Importance of SOAP”

Vision Casting: It Requires Burning Wood

“Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, But happy is he who keeps the law.” (Proverbs 29:18, NASB)

“If I say, “I won’t mention Him or speak any longer in His name,” His message becomes a fire burning in my heart, shut up in my bones. I become tired of holding it in, and I cannot prevail.” (Jeremiah 20:9, HCSB)

A vision for any organization is very important, especially for a church. Even greater than just having a vision is one that people embrace and is something they are excited about. Combining, the two verses above teach us that vision is important, but the goal for any vision is that people will burn with it in their organizations long-term ideals. So what does one do when a vision is not being caught? How does one actually get people to embrace a vision? In other words, it’s one thing for a leader or an organization to have a vision. It’s another issue for that vision to catch on and burn into the organizations motivations.

About two weeks ago I attended a church planting/strategy conference. During the event we had training on how to effectively cast a vision. I’ll be honest; I became very frustrated during this portion of the conference. They were only giving us textbook answers about the importance of a vision and not telling us how to get others to embrace the vision. As a pastor I’m very aware that I need to cast a vision. However, there are times when people are refusing to follow or embrace any concept for the future. So I wanted more practical steps than just the theoretical ones they were providing. Little did I know, God would teach me the steps the next week, which are simply involving a few people, a lot of prayer, and a lot of time. I’ll explain by using burning wood as an analogy.images

Continue reading “Vision Casting: It Requires Burning Wood”