Tuesday, June 20, 2006

How great is our God?

How great is our God?

I went by Chris Tomlin's web site recently and he has a link in which you can download an iTunes exclusive of How Great is Our God/How Great Thou Art, performed live at the Dove Awards earlier this year. Goodness, what an incredible time that was...

I listen to that a cappella section at the end and remember God's sweet presence in that buidling -- the beauty of worshipping our God. We sang the same "medley" at church this past weekend. It was amazing.

How Great is Our God? He sent us Jesus, didn't He? He promises to give us the desires of our heart if we delight ourselves in Him. He promises to never leave us or forsake us.

He's awesome!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Hey Gorgeous, WEDDINGS ARE FUN!!

I thought I'd spend a moment telling you that my sister sure was one magnificent bride last Saturday! I'm so happy for her and my new brother-in-law.

The wedding ceremony was very nice. During the ceremony, they had me read Ephesians 5:25-31. Not a bad gig. There's that picture again, in God's Word, of marriage being this wonderful reflection of Christ's union with us (see March 18 post).

I asked my sis during rehearsal why she chose me to read those scriptures, and her response was simple, "Who else was I going to have read it? You're Brother John."

Well, when explained like that, I guess it makes perfect sense.

The minister finished by reading from Eph. 3, including the ever wonderful 20th verse! I really like that verse.

Friday night we had rehearsal at the wedding chapel at Second, and then off to the rehearsal dinner. It was a good time. A group of my sister's friends from high school and college came down from out of state and we headed over to the Empire Cafe after dinner. We ended up closing the place down drinking coffee and chating. All this wedding talk was giving me Princess thoughts...no the Princess wasn't there, but I was thinking about her.

Sweetie, I was thinking during last weekend (and during the service, really) about how emotional I get at weddings. I imagined that moment I get to see you coming down the isle. Wow. I'm going to be a wreck on our day...

But our day is going to be amazing!

Speaking of the Princess, I received a message via this blog recently that stated: "I am the princess you are looking for. Please look no further." My response to that remark is that if you're that confident about it, you certainly won't have a problem with me knowing a little about you. Ha! Let's start with your first name. I may get picky later and require proof of age, gender, etc. I can be tough like that. :)

I read something the other night that the Lord really used to rattle my cage a little bit. Doug Van Pelt, editor of HM Magazine (a publication I like to read occasionally), made a blog entry on 5/12/06 regarding intercessory prayer. He's reading a book by Norman Grubb, entitled "Rees Howells: Intercessor." I will pick up a copy of this one.

Well, this was one of those moments when I read something that just jumped off the page (or screen, I should say) and bore witness with my spirit in a big, big way.

I am going to insert a portion of Doug's 5/12 blog entry below in italics, but his blog can be found in its entirety at http://www.hmmagazine.com/category/blog/

This talk in Rees Howells, Intercessor about intercession is intense. It says (in chapter 12): "Mr. Howells would often speak of 'the gained position of intercession,' and the truth of it is obvious on many occasions in his life. It is a fact of experience. The price is paid, the obedience is fulfilled, the inner wrestlings and groanings take their full course, and the 'the Word of the Lord comes.' The weak channel is clothed with authority by the Holy Ghost and can speak the word of deliverance. 'Greater works' are done. Not only this, but a new position in grace is gained and maintained, although even then that grace can only be appropriated and applied in each instance under the guidance of the Spirit.

"Mr. Howells used to speak of it, in Mr. Muller's phrases, as entering 'the grace of faith,' in contrast to receiving 'the gifts of faith.' What he meant was that, when we pray in a normal way, we may hope that God of His goodness will give us the thing. If He does, we rejoice; it is His gift to us; but we have no power or authority to say that we can always get that same answer at any time. Such are the gifts of faith. But when an intercessor has gained the place of intercession in a certain realm, then he has entered into 'the grace of faith,' along that special line the measureless sea of God's grace is open to him. That is the gained place of intercession."

Wow. Does this mean that we can get an extra measure of God's approval or a better standing in Heaven by praying more? I don't think so. I think what is being implied here is the working of power down here. If we want to walk in miracles and be used by God to do greater things, then there is a price to pay in prayer. Jesus taught many times about laboring in prayer, about being persistent in prayer. If we take these lessons and explanations of the kingdom to heart, then we too might spend lengthy amounts of time in prayer. Rees Howells was "abiding" in God, with extended amounts of prayer on a daily basis for several months at a time -- as long as it took for the answer to shake loose (when God would tell him that such and such was done). To belittle or doubt these things without experiencing them is a bit shaky. Maybe there's something to this...

Grubb's writing and Van Pelt's commentary really beg the question, "Are we willing to pay the price for the move of God each of us is believing for in our own lives? In our churches? In our homes and families?"

Where is the price paid? With a heart and mind unmoved by our circumstances and unwavering in our faith? Maybe.

In hard work, perseverance and determination? Possibly.

Ultimately, the real price is paid in those quiet times alone with Him. Abiding in Him. Praying without ceasing, as Paul wrote. Praying in the Spirit walking the isles at Wal-Mart or driving in the car. Being keenly aware of His presence throughout our day, and honoring that presence.

Yes, "believing" is a big part of it, but so is approaching Him again and again, just like the persistent widow approached that judge.