Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Abound or Abide? Classic Article on the Classic Pastor's Struggle

John Ortberg's classic article "To Abide or To Abound" is available for you now. If your resolve to have more devotional time in the new year has already wilted, this may help.

===>Click headline to accees the CTI/LJ website . . .

Copyright © 2000 by the author or Christianity Today International/Leadership Journal

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Thursday, January 19, 2006

pRay ... R is for Rest?

The antidote for your overloaded soul is not a plan for time management. It’s not a program for stress reduction. It’s not a philosophy on how to simplify your life. It’s not a pill. It’s a person.

“Come to me all you that are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28)

In the Bible, people came to Jesus for many different reasons. Some people came for forgiveness. Some came for answers. Others came for healing. Still others came to Jesus for eternal life. But in that verse from Matthew, Jesus says you can come to him for rest. That means release from stress, release from overload.

Jesus goes on in verse 29 to promise, “I will give you rest for your souls.” This is much deeper than physical rest. I would venture to say that your greatest problem is not overloaded muscles. In fact, most of us need to use our muscles more. Most of us are too flabby. Our muscles are not overworked – our minds are. We’re tired mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. You probably need soul rest far more than you need physical rest. You need release from worry, tension, stress, guilt, fear, bitterness, and anxiety. You need soul rest. And that’s exactly what Jesus promises you if you’ll come to him.

Where do you usually turn when you’re overloaded? When you’re exhausted, depleted, and overloaded, who or what do you naturally turn to for relief? You may be a pastor, but I doubt that your first choice is Jesus. You may turn to food when you’re exhausted. You may prop your feet up and turn to television. You may turn to a drink or a pill. But none of these things can give you soul rest. Only God can give you that.

The antidote for your overloaded soul is not a plan for time management. It’s not a program for stress reduction. It’s not a philosophy on how to simplify your life. It’s not a pill. It’s a person. Jesus does not say, “Come to church.” He does not say, “Come to small group.” He does not even say, “Come to the Bible.” He says, “Come to me.” The answer for overload is a person.

This is the exact opposite to what the world teaches. Let me tell you why you get overloaded. It’s because you’re listening too much to the world. The world will tell you to keep busy, to keep running faster and faster. But when you run at that pace you end up doing things you were never shaped to do. God has wired you up with certain Spiritual gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality and Experiences (S.H.A.P.E.) to make you unique. And when you try to do things that you were never shaped to do, you’re going to get overloaded and stressed out.

The world teaches that when you’re empty inside, you need to do more. If I could just do more then I’ll be at rest and at peace. If I could just have more, then I’ll be at rest and at peace. If I could just be more then I’ll be at rest and peace.

But Jesus said it’s not a matter of do. It’s a matter of come. “Come to me.” There are no other qualifications than that. It’s simply, “Come to Me.”

The first thing you need when you’re overloaded is more time with God. That’s where you’ll find rest. That’s where you’ll find renewed strength. To find this time with God, you must get alone so you’re not distracted and you’re not tempted to pretend or put on a show for other people. Sit before him honestly and start to focus on him. Don’t let anything else intrude on this time. Just sit and focus on Jesus. Before you know it, you’ll begin to sense his grace flowing to you – and with that grace will come peace and strength and rest.

If it’s that easy, why don’t we do this on a regular basis? Why don’t we turn to Jesus more?

There are two answers for that:

1. We think we can handle it all on our own.

2. We too often forget what God is really like. We forget that God is a loving Father; that God cares for us just like a father cares for a small child. God isn’t going to scold you when you come to him for rest. He’s going to love you. If you’ll just come to God like a little child comes to a father, he’ll teach you how to really rest. But you’ve got to turn to him.

Are you exhausted? Do you need rest? Take him at his Word: “Come to me, all you that are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest.”

Until next week, RIck
Rick Warren
This article is adapted from the series From Burnout to Balance: Restoring Margin to Overloaded Lives.
===>Click headline to access Rick's website . . .

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Friday, January 06, 2006

Praying Pastor ... Lift Your Eyes!

“Just for a few moments, forget about the increasing darkness in the world around you. Look at the prayer, unity, reconciliation, and renewal movements that have been increasing in the church in recent years. While darkness has covered the earth, the Morning Star of Christ’s actual presence has already begun to rise in His people! He is the one who has been invisibly, yet powerfully, bringing the church together. He is washing us with the water of His Word, cleansing our divisions and prayerlessness. He is not only preparing us for the harvest, He is preparing us for His glory.” Francis Frangipane

Quoted in Intercessors Arise by Debbie Przybylski
--->Click headline to access

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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Resolutions Worthy of Prayer for 2006

From a praying pastor . . . I resolve in 2006 to do the following:

•To listen to other parts of the Christian tradition, which come to me through books and friends, with more care and a far deeper willingness to learn all that I can from every Christian source.
•To never assume that I have found the whole truth, as if one ever finds the whole truth, in any human system of thought, be it that of Aquinas, Luther, Calvin or Augustine. (You can fill in the blank with your favorite theologian!)
•To realize afresh that Jesus is the truth and that even though Scripture faithfully bears witness to Jesus no theological system, or single part of the whole Christian tradition, is the final word on how we understand what God has chosen to reveal to us in this present age.
•To use my mind more intentionally, as Matthew 22:37 clearly teaches me, to love the Lord, and then my neighbor, above all else. This means that I must always seek to turn my theological ruminations and discussions into an intentional doxology of devoted and sacrificial love.
•To love my friends, and to pray for my enemies, regardless of the theological issue(s) that we disagree about. I can learn more from honest disagreements than I may ever know this side of glory, thus I will seek to understand what a person is really saying and not stereotype it falsely, as I did in 1982 when I first read my friend’s letter.

Henry Van Dyke once concluded:
The plague of Christendom has been the passion of theology to define what God has not defined and to discover what he has kept secret.

I resolve, at the beginning of 2006, to spend far more time, in public and in private, seeking to understand and explain what God has more clearly revealed and less and less time explaining the mysteries, and the problematic texts, too intently and dogmatically. I am aware that controversy sells books, builds ministries like the one that I lead, and attracts many followers, but I resolve before God and man to put such controversies aside wherever possible for the greater good of knowing Christ and loving his people. May God help me.

John Armstrong
ACT 3 @ act3weekly@reformationrevival.com

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Hug Your Kids: 1968 & 2006


1968-October 8-JOURNAL ENTRY~ Rhonda Joy (8 years old) brought me to my senses tonight! We just finished washing the car as she “oiled” her bike chain. The chain guard was loose and I asked her about it. “Now, Rhonda, why haven’t you told me?” She looked up at me dressed in my sport shirt and slacks- “But Daddy, you’re never home, and you never have your old clothes on!” I guess it’s been a long time…too long.

Over supper, she quipped, “Daddy all you do is march in and march out again!” I cancelled an appointment for the evening and announced to Rhonda and her brother, “we’re going to see that movie you wanted, ‘The Magnificent Men and their flying Machines.’” Upon hearing the good news, they both jumped up and down.

2006-January 4-REFLECTION~Coach Dungy, of the Indianapolis Colts recently spoke at the untimely death of his 18 year old son, James. Thousands listened as he drew upon his Christian faith. “Hug your kids! I urge you not to take your relations for granted. Parents hug your kids each chance you get. Tell them you love them each chance you get. You don’t know when it’s going to be the last time.

In my 72nd year, success simply means being loved and respected by those who know and love me best, my family. Rhonda Joy now has two daughters in college. Every chance Marilyn and I get (not nearly often enough) we hug our granddaughters, now 18 and 20.

“Old people are distinguished by their grandchildren; children take pride in their parents.” (Prov. 17:6 -The Message)

SAYING YES TO GOD- bob/marilyn Yawberg - Vol. VII # 1

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