Friday, February 25, 2011

Do you have Passion?

I know I have been a long time coming on this post. It seems like February has been a very long month somehow. We've had a lot going on at our house and with the church and time has been in short supply.

I don't have much to share today but I saw a quote in an article by John Maxwell that I really liked. John Maxwell is a leadership expert. His writings can be used in both the business world and the spiritual, church-building world. He quotes the former COO (chief operating officer) of the Ritz Carlton hotel who said,

You are nothing unless it comes from your heart. Passion, caring, really looking to create excellence. If you perform functions only and go to work only to do processes, then you are effectively retired. And it scares me - most people I see, by age 28, are retired... If you go to work only to fulfill the processes and functions then you are a machine. You have to bring passion, commitment and caring - then you are a human being.

The article, which you can find in full text here has much more to do with success in business but I think we can apply this idea of passion to everyting we do in life. Do you have passion for what you do at work? Do you have passion for the role you play at church? Do you have passion for being a parent? Where you volunteer? Scriptures say,

Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:22-24

I've been guilty of slogging through the motions at work, at home, at church, in my marriage, in my friendships, in my parenting...almost everywhere. But I've also had times when I've burned with passion over projects I worked on or services I led worship in. I think the Lord of the harvest wants us to burn for Him. To be filled with passion.

Sometimes we get to a point where the passion is gone. That is when it is easiest to "retire" as the article says. I pray you don't retire. I pray that you seek God and ask Him to fill your life with passion again. Maybe He'll refuel your weary soul. Maybe He'll show you a way to a new job or volunteer position that fires up your soul again. Be on fire for the Lord! Be filled with passion!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Praying and Seeking

In preparation for the worship team retreat where we had a workshop on prayer, I met with the ladies who conducted the prayer workshop. As we were talking, one of them suggested several books on prayer that would be good resources. Since everyone knows I don't like to read, I wasn't sure what to do. I'm already reading, "Satisfy My Thirsty Soul" I thought. There is no way I can pick up another book now. But I wanted to be a little prepared for the retreat, so I thought, "What the heck, maybe I can at least read a few chapters." So I decided to order the book from Inter Library Loan on campus so if I didn't get into it, at least I wouldn't be out any money.

So the book arrived and I began reading. Philip Yancey is the author and it is a book called "Prayer" subtitled "Does It Make Any Difference". ILL doesn't loan books for readers like me. They set deadlines for return within a month of the receiving date and everyone knows I don't read that fast even when I do read. I began reading a few chapters and so far I am really enjoying the book. So when my time ran out I just bought the book on Amazon. I'm almost half-way through and I probably have as many new questions as answers to old ones about prayer.

The author asks a lot of questions like, "If God really cares and really listens, why don't all our prayers get answered." And, "If some of us believe we are predestined then why pray at all. Can we change God's mind?" He raises a lot of questions that frankly have you thinking one minute about giving up on prayer all together and the next thinking you've been doing it wrong for years. I won't say I'm not struggling some with the ideas being presented but if the goal of the author was to make me think and ponder, he definitely has done that well.

I ran across a thought yesterday when I was reading that really made a lot of sense to me. I've gone through times when I've prayed and prayed for direction, answers, movement of the Holy Spirit in a situation and just felt nothing. Completely flat. Dry as a bone. And I've wondered why? Why, if I'm seeking God's will and asking for His direction, doesn't He respond. At least with something. A warm fuzzy or a stomach ache. Something.

In one revealing paragraph I found solace. The author first quotes Augustine who said with regard to the one that prays, "that he himself may be constructed not that God may be instructed." Does prayer construct us? Build us? Shape us into what we are and who we are?

He goes on to say, "I have sometimes found that I get an answer to my persistent request only after I have learned to do without it. The answer then comes as a surprise, an unexpected gift of grace." And here is my favorite part, "I seek the gift, find instead the Giver, and eventually come away with the gift I no longer seek. Asking, seeking and knocking does have an effect on God, as Jesus insists, but it also has a lasting effect on the asker-seeker-knocker."

We pray, not just to have our requests granted or to gain some prize, we pray because that is one way God shapes us and molds us. We've been instructed to do it and regardless of the answers we do or don't receive, we keep on doing it. We keep pressing in. And God uses the time we spend seeking to make us into the disciples He needs.

So don't give up on that prayer. Make your petitions known to God. Go boldly to the throne. The veil has been torn for us, so that we might meet with God face-to-face and have a relationship with Him. Prayer does make a difference.