Are You Just Studying the Bible or Encountering God?

“Hearing the voice of God is something more than the thoughtful study of the Word. There may be a study and knowledge of the Word in which there is but little real fellowship with the living God. But there is also a reading of the Word, in the very presence of the Father and under the leading of the Spirit, in which the Word comes to us in living power from God himself. It is to us the very voice of the Father, a real personal fellowship with himself. It is the loving voice of God entering the heart that brings blessing and strength. and awakens the response of a living faith that reaches the heart of God again.”

  • Andrew Murray, With Christ in the School of Prayer

Power through Prayer: Our Original Destiny

I am reading With Christ in the School of Prayer by Andrew Murray. The depth and power of this book are difficult to describe. I am half way through it and I already know that I will have to read it again. I am more convinced than ever that I know very little of the real power and purpose of prayer. Here is a passage to consider.

‘Ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.’ By no means does such a promise refer primarily to the grace or blessing we need for ourselves. It refers to our position as fruit-bearing branches of the Heavenly Vine, who, like Him, live only for the work and glory of the Father. It is for those who abide in Him, who have forsaken self to abide in Him with His life of obedience and self-sacrifice, those who have lost their life and found it in Him, and are now entirely given up to the interests of the Father and His kingdom. These are they who understand how their new creation has brought them back to their original destiny, has restored God’s image and likeness, and with it the power to have dominion. Such have indeed the power, each in their own circles to obtain and dispense the powers of heaven here on earth. With holy boldness they may make known what they will. They live as priests in God’s presence. As kings the powers of the world to come begin to be at their disposal. They enter upon the fulfillment of the promise: ‘Ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
— Andrew Murray

Getting Over Criticism

One great lesson of the last year or so has been learning not to worry about what people think of me. I was encouraged to hear Donald Miller say on a podcast that many great leaders have struggled with wanting people to like them. I guess most people do. I also heard Carly Fiorina speak to this in an interview.

If you can’t get over being criticized you will never fulfill your potential . . . you will never lead . . . you will never actually solve the problem, because criticism is the price. . . . I tune it out. That doesn’t mean I didn’t seek feedback. Feedback is very important and come from people who actually care about what you are trying to do or about you. . . . Whatever choice I make, someone will be unhappy.
— Carly Fiorina

The Apostle Paul also wrote about this.

Am I now seeking the approval of man? . . . If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
— Galatians 1:10
Have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?
— Galatians 4:16
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Does Your Family Have a Mission?

A family has to have a mission outside of itself.
— Donald Miller

I was encouraged to hear this story about a homeschool family in Texas that ministers to refugees together.

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As we prepare our children for a life of service and ministry, what better way than to minister together as a family! I took my three oldest children on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic and it had a lasting impact on us all. Even better, find a regular, local place to minister.

Does your family have a mission outside of itself?

Listen to this great story on WORLD Radio - Ministering to Refugees

The Necessity of Suffering

Were it not for suffering, millions of human beings would never develop an atom of affection. It is folly to conclude that a thing ought not to be done because it hurts. There are powers to be born, creations to be perfected, and sinners to be redeemed all through the ministry of pain that could not be born, perfected, or redeemed in any other way.
— George MacDonald (1824-1905)
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What Is Happening in Your Daughter’s Life?

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What is happening in your daughter’s life? I think this is a particularly good question for fathers. Stop and think about that question for a moment. How would you answer? Do you feel like you know? Now think of all the texts, video chats, social media, and hours spent with friends. Are you sure you know?

This is a good question for both fathers and mothers, for both sons and daughters. But I’d like to focus on fathers and daughters. The father-daughter relationship is the context of a great Bible story that provides a wonderful lesson for dads.

In the book of Esther, we learn that as a child Esther lost both her mother and father. Mordecai (who was her cousin) adopted her as his own daughter and raised her. The nature of this father-daughter relationship manifests itself as Esther becomes a young adult and is taken by the King to be considered as a wife.

And every day
Mordecai walked in front of the court of the harem
to learn how Esther was
and what was happening to her.
Esther 2:11

I doubt Mordecai’s interest and involvement in Esther life was a new development. This was his fatherly way. Every day. What a wonderful example for us as dads. Express daily interest and involvement in your daughter’s life. Find out what she is thinking and feeling. Ask about what she loves and about her conversations. Inquire about her relationship with God.

Another aspect of the relationship of Mordecai and Esther is that

Esther obeyed Mordecai
just as when she was brought up by him.
Esther 2:20

Again, Mordecai’s influence in Esther’s life, and her response to him, was not a new development. This was the nature of their relationship. The story does not make a direct connection between the ongoing influential role of a father in a daughter’s life and his ongoing interest and involvement in her life. But it sure does make sense.

It is certainly possible for a daughter in faith to follow the leadership of her father, no matter what her relationship to him is. But it is a natural outflow of the relational investment that has been made when the father has chosen to be interested and involved in her life. He has her heart. He has earned her trust.

I am not sharing this lesson with you because I have done such a great job with my own family. In fact, I can see ways that I have failed to be interested and involved in my daughters’ lives. But I certainly plan to follow the example of Mordecai’s fatherly ways. I want to connect daily with my daughters, discovering how they are and what is happening in their lives. And I pray that they will receive godly, fatherly guidance as they grow into young ladies.

How to Read More Books This Year

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I am currently reading Michael Hyatt’s new book Your Best Year Ever: A 5-Step Plan for Achieving Your Most Important Goals. I love this book and look forward to telling you more about it later.
 
In chapter 13, Hyatt describes how to plan out specific steps to accomplish your goals. He encourages his readers to seek outside help when figuring out how to accomplish their goals. He writes, “The good news is, for almost every goal we want to accomplish, someone else knows how to get there.” 

So, when I began to write out goals for reading books, I decided to look up some articles about setting book reading goals. I found this article by Joel Miller, 10 Rules to Read More Books This Year.  This is definitely worth a read if you’d like some encouragement on how to read more books this year. Here are my favorite tips:

  1. Keep track of the books you read. I have not done this consistently, but when I do, I have used the Goodreads mobile app and website.  
  2. Follow your whims. Miller suggests that we should read what we want. Don’t keep trudging through something that is boring or unhelpful. This leads into the next tip. 
  3.  Quit at any time. I also learned this principle from Mortimer Adler in How to Read a Book. There are simply too many great books to read to waste time on mediocre books. 
  4. Vary genres. And I will add, vary topics. This keeps things interesting. This also fits into the next tip. 
  5. Read several books at once. This way you can read whatever suites you or fits into the time you have.  

I hope you find these tips inspiring. Check out the article as well. OK, time to go read a book!