First Thing Prayer–“the Prayer God Promises to Answer.”

In his terrific new book, “A Different Kind of Happiness: Discovering the Joy that Comes from Sacrificial Love,”  Dr. Larry Crabb offers what he calls a “First thing prayer.”  Crabb says “First thing prayer is the prayer God promises to answer”:

“Whatever the cost, make me a little Christ. Father, may Your Spirit open the eyes of my heart to see your beauty so that I’m left with no greater desire while I live in this world than to reveal Your Son’s love to others by how I relate.”

“God’s Love Letters to You”, Day Three: Leviticus: Solving Your Worst Problem

In Dr. Larry Crabb’s “God’s Love Letters to You: A 40-Day Devotional Experience,” Day Three is “Leviticus: Solving Your Worst Problem”:

“Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family.”–Hebrews 2:11

“God says: You want Me to solve your problems, but you don’t know what your worst problem is, the one responsible for all the others. You don’t yet realize that distance from Me is the most lethal problem you have.

You assume we’re doing just fine together, while you run off, trying to make life work for you, and you expect Me to cooperate. When you read Leviticus, notice that I never solve anyone’s secondary problems. In all those verses about skin infection, for example, I never prescribed ointment or simply cured the disease, which I easily could have done. I simply told people they couldn’t enter My presence with an oozing sore. The issue was worship and intimacy with Me, not health, wealth, or personal comfort.

So many people miss that. They identify their needs and then view Me as a God who wants them satisfied and happy before I deal with their unholiness. But because I love them–and you–I’ve made a way for you to revolve your life around Me as your first thing. Everything else–your marriage, your checkbook, your self-esteem, your career–is a second thing. When the first thing(namely, Me) is in first place in your life, every second thing will be taken care of.

You’ve got a long way to go before that’s true in your life, but I have a plan to get you there, to make you holy.”

TAKE A MOMENT TO REFLECT

*If you didn’t feel the need to “spiritualize” or worry about what others think, how would you define what your worst problem is?

*What are some of the second things in your life that you long for God to address?

*The second things of our lives often take priority over what God says matters most. How would you describe, after reading these words, what’s God’s deepest commitment is in our lives?

TAKE A MOMENT TO PRAY

“God, I would settle for far less than Your commitment to make me holy as You are. Too often my commitment is to use You to make my life comfortable. Forgive me. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

 

“God’s Love Letters to You”: Day 2, Exodus

From Dr. Larry Crabb’s, “God’s Love Letters to You: A 40-Day Devotional Experience,” Day 2, “Exodus: Consider the Lengths I go to, just to be with you”:

“Let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them.”–Exodus 25:8 NKJV

God says: I can and I will detach you from everything that numbs your sacred hunger for me and makes you feel hungrier for something other than Me.

You will never on this earth depend fully enough on My power to live exactly as you want to live. When you see how particular I am about all the rules you should obey but never do, let the weight of My holiness draw you into the delights of My love. I still want to be with you.

Don’t ever forget: I do have a plan, a plan to make you deliriously happy in the circle of My love. As you read Exodus 25-40, where I record all those architectural details about the tabernacle, realize the lengths I’m willing to go to be with you. Imagine me, the God of the universe, clothed in splendor and arrayed in glory, living in, by My standards, a simple tent set up in a barren wilderness. Sure, it was fancy, but compare it to what you imagine heaven to be. But that’s where I lived, just to be near people like you.

As you consider all the laws I gave that you never kept, and as you see My willingness to go camping to be with My people, know this: I will do whatever it takes to fully restore My family and to be with them forever.

God’s Love Letters to You–Day One: Genesis, “I have a plan. Trust Me.”

Each weekday morning at 5:45 on WWIB and WWIB.com I lead us in our morning prayer focus and devotion. Today we kicked off the first of 40 days reading from Dr. Larry Crabb’s devotional, “God’s Love Letters to You,” drawn from his longer book, “66 Love Letters: A Conversation with God that Invites You into His Story.” Beginning today and throughout the next eight weeks I intend to share each day’s reading right here:

Day One: Genesis

“I have a plan: Trust Me”

“Then Joseph said to his brothers, “…God will surely come to your aid and take you up out of this land to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob…God will surely come to your aid.”–Genesis 50:24, 25

God says: I want you to realize that I never underestimated how thoroughly you’d mess up your life or how painfully you would struggle and suffer, and I don’t want you to underestimate your failures or struggles either. They’re all part of the story I’m telling.

But neither have I underestimated My determination or ability to enter both the mess you’ve made and the pain you feel, then turn everything around. I can, and I will, make everything good again. Never, ever underestimate Me. I have a plan, a very good one, and it will move ahead to completion. Guaranteed! Trust Me. Why? Because I love you even when you’re messing up badly. I love you in the middle of your pain even though I don’t relieve it as quickly as you wish. I am worthy of your trust, no matter what happens in your life. I have a good plan, and nothing will stop Me from carrying it to completion.

You must live now in the tension between anguish and hope.

 

New Hampshire Predictions

After correctly predicting the order of the top six in the GOP and the Dems in Iowa last Monday, here’s my prognostication for how things will turn out tonight in New Hampshire:

Dems:

Bernie Sanders–54%

Hillary Clinton–41%

GOP:

Donald Trump–30%

Marco Rubio–15%…Even after Saturday night’s much-discussed debate performance he was still drawing the second biggest crowds among GOP candidates. His supporters still find much to like about him even after the media scrutiny and criticism he’s faced for how he handled his fracas with Christie.

John Kasich–14%…Over 100 town halls and an ability to embody Granite state Republicanism will help.

Jeb Bush–13%…Not all he was hoping for, but a good enough performance to fight on in South Carolina where he’s praying having older brother George W. campaign for him will provide the much-needed boost.

Ted Cruz–12%…South Carolina and all those March 1st S.E.C. primaries matter much more to him.

Chris Christie–5%…Say “Good night” Chris! Marco won’t miss you!

Carly Fiorina–4%…Not bad considering ABC didn’t even include her in Saturday night’s debate. She’s committed to continuing on. Will she be allowed in future debates? She should be.

Ben Carson–3%…He’ll keep going.

3 Questions Evangelicals Should Ask About Donald Trump

On Thursday’s “Front Page” we spent the hour talking with John Stemberger about his column, “3 Questions Evangelicals Should Ask About Donald Trump.”Stemberger is an attorney and conservative leader based out of Orlando, Florida. He is a former political director of the Republican Party of Florida. For the past 10 years, Stemberger has served as president and general counsel of Florida Family Action.

Third Day’s “Your Words” Theme Song of Halvo’s “Morning Light”

Weekday morning’s 5:30-7 I have the privilege of helping wake up western Wisconsin as I host “The Morning Light” on WWIB-FM and WWIB.com. This week I mentioned on-air the new theme song for the show is Third Day’s “Your Words.

I chose this song as each morning I’m inviting listeners to begin their day by joining me in a CELEBRATION of God’s Word and His Gospel.  You see, without God’s word, there’d be no Christians, Christianity or Christian radio.  It’s ONLY through God’s word we come to faith(Rom.10:13) and it’s through His Word we grow spiritually(1Peter2:2). Additionally, while Jesus indicated the greatest commandment is to wholly love God and the second one is to love our neighbor, we can only do that to the degree we embrace His unconditional, sacrificial love for us(1John 4:19, Romans 5:8).

So join me weekday mornings from 5:30-7 and together let’s CELEBRATE the Lord together!

 

 

 

Interfaith Event–What’s the Concern?

Wednesday night in Eau Claire an interfaith event at UW-Eau Claire’s Ecumenical Religious Center drew an estimated 250 people. Seeking unity and peace, those in attendance prayed and sang together. What could be the harm in that?

We spent a whole hour talking about this Thursday on my “Front  Page” show on WWIB and WWIB.com. A variety of people called and e-mailed in their reactions. Personally, as an evangelical Christian, while I desire to show respect to people of all faiths and engage them in interfaith dialogue, I couldn’t in good conscience wholeheartedly participate in an event like the one held Wednesday night in Eau Claire. When Jesus Christ said in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No man shall come unto the Father except by me,” I believe him. As politically incorrect and exclusivist as it may sound, I believe Jesus is the ONLY way to God. So how could I and/or why would I go sing and pray with others who don’t believe that? Befriend them–yes! Dialogue with them–absolutely! But pray and sing together, it’s just not for me.

Pastor Mike Thompson of Faith Free Church in Stanley e-mailed in these thoughts:

“First, as a pastor, there are some causes that i could work alongside a diversity of groups to advance. For example I could work with Catholic, Muslim, Atheist or just about anyone to prevent or reduce the occurrence of the murder of the unborn.

In the essentials and related to core doctrine there must be exclusivity. in other words, if we are to worship or pray together we must understand that God Himself is invested in some core doctrines that can not be set aside. Why can we NOT set aside core things such as The Trinity, Salvation by Faith alone and other doctrines included in our statement of faith? Because we are here for the glory of God. And if we are rightly glorify God then we must approach the right God and we must approach Him in the way that He demands.

If there are some religions with whom I gather (Bahai & Hinuism) that are channeling spirits and the word of God demands that we do not channel spirits but instead seek the one true God….how could I possibly gather with those channeling spirits and remain faithful to God?

I would gather with them to protest against murder. I would not gather if it were in any way sending the signal that praying channeling spirits was acceptable to God or my faith. That would be the equivalent to denying my faith.

So, does this gather require me to set aside core doctrine. core is in clearly communicated in God’s word?
We should have dialogue with many different people. We should be serving people from all faiths. That is part of how we share the love of Jesus Christ. But in the post modern world there is a demand that I deny my core tenents and call all thigns equal even if my scriptures state otherwise.

Thank you for taking on this topic.”

After today’s show on WWIB had ended, I received the following very thoughtful e-mail from Dave Paukner in Chippewa Falls:

“Some hurried thoughts in no particular order.:

1. Interfaith events, by name imply, a setting aside of “faith” matters in order to assemble. If not true, we would just call the event a State Fair. That’s why this is troubling to me and always has been. It actually has a humanistic bent. Maybe that is what bothers you about it. It bothers me. It becomes an assembly of people who are proud that their faith does not interfere with loving other people.

Now, if you want to go to a football game, grocery store etc… where people of other faiths convene, by all means let them see how you live. Let your(His) light shine before all men, but do not put the light under a bushel as these events often require. If Jesus is not common ground, which he is not, how can one even entertain the efficacy of such an event? Even a missions minded person should not be deluded that Jesus would be OK with us asking him to stay home and not attend because we want them to know Him. Sounds silly to me.

2. In regard to the “question” from Medford, Jesus did in fact speak to denominations during his ministry, as there were different “schools” of Judaism at that time. There were Pharisees and Sadducees, along with Rabbinic schools of Shammai and Hillel (Spellings might be wrong). There were Hellenistic Jews and Samaritans too. When He engaged them, He never set aside the truth. He more often than not, upset them, as they had grievous errors in their beliefs about God and Torah. Jesus never convened a feel good assembly where peace was the focus. In fact, His primary purpose for coming was Truth! Something He tells Pilate, a non believer, but not at a peace rally.John 18:37

3. He corrected the Pharisees to the point of telling them their father was the Devil. John 8:44

4. Jesus in the Book of Revelation warns the Church in Ephesus that He saw the good works they were doing, but they had forgotten their first love, (Rev 2:4 KJV).

God first, everything else second. God is a jealous God. Relegating God to any position, other than number one runs the risk of turning into humanistic philosophy. In making disciples, we must first be a disciple. A process that our culture has completely watered down. It is a process of knowing and loving God first and foremost, which Jesus said is the first and greatest command. The second greatest command to love our neighbors as ourselves is second for a reason. Without the first commandment being first and obeyed (have no other gods before me), the second greatest command is pure humanism wrapped in religious sound bites and trimmings.

5. The Apostle Paul prayed for doors to be opened for the Gospel, not “Rodney King” style peace rallies. He illuminated the Old Testament (Tanakh) and showed Jesus and the Gospel in those writings.. Also, for the most part Paul spent his time in the Synagogues, teaching from the sacred text. How many times was he harassed and beaten for doing so? A lot! His message was offensive to some and foolish to others, yet he never set it aside.

6. Grace and peace are only multiplied when we, focus on the knowledge of God and our Lord Jesus,. 2 Peter 1:2-8″

So, in conclusion, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let’s befriend and dialogue with those from every faith under the sun, but let’s save our prayers and songs for the King of Kings and Lord or Lords, the crucified and risen Savior of the world, Jesus Christ.