I Believe What You Believe


GodReflection: God Shares His Secret on Unity

garyguarujaI would sometime joke when asked how to raise funds for a Non-Profit Organization: “It’s easy just begin by telling a prospective donor, ‘I believe what you believe.’” Obviously, a person of integrity would never make such an assumption nor believe such an outlandish declaration.

Because each human being is wired and gifted by the Creator as a one-of-a- kind creation and is formed differently through years of unique experiences no two people believe exactly alike.

unity3So how is it possible to live in unity with another person who cannot mirror my belief system—much less attempt unity with millions of individuals who claim to follow a man called Jesus? Especially, when each one differs in the details of the life and worship of a Christ follower.

In Jesus’ last garden prayer, he prayed for the unity of all believers:

Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one . . . I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:11&23)

In one sense his prayer was answered, in another sense it was not.

unity17His church stands unified in belief of Creator God. We share unity in our affirmation that Jesus is the Christ.

The church is in agreement that Jesus is the only means of salvation and we his disciples are his ambassadors to all the earth.

The church is united on belief in the death, burial, resurrection of Jesus and the hope found only in him.

Should I take the time and the space to do so, I’m sure I could compile a rather long list to demonstrate the unity and “oneness” we now experience as a fulfillment of Jesus’ John chapter seventeen prayer.

unity26However, we sin when we divide his body into rival church tribes, apply the war paint and throw spears and Satanic missiles at other Christ followers.

When I catch myself in this posture I stand as a roadblock to Jesus’ prayer.

It concerns me when I find myself as a participant in disunity through my own likes, dislikes and prejudices. I am ashamed when I promote a lack of Christ-like behavior by a commitment to my own unbiblical opinions.

unity22I would like to think I am making progress in being less of a disharmonizing person.

It continues to be an enigma to me how on the one hand I know we are all wired differently and think differently and then on the other hand expect others to embrace my opinions as their own.

Could it be that one purpose God has for our walk on earth is to help us gain wisdom in failures; and gain joy in our successes when we see Jesus’ garden prayer being fulfilled in small ways?

Could it be that a primary purpose of my walk on earth is to learn how to, make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3) so that I can look forward to my next life when unity is the natural Holy-state of all eternity?

unity8I have a current role within God’s revealed secret of His desire for unity. I am to LEARN and to LEAN on His Spirit to be a man of peace.

In my struggle to do so, I am to share with my fellow travelers the secret of peace and unity found in Jesus. A secret learned and expressed through compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

And, all of that because He chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and unity16blameless in his sight . . . God did what He had purposed, and made known to us the secret plan He had already decided to complete by means of Christ.

This plan, which God will complete when the time is right, is to bring all creation together, everything in heaven and on earth, with Christ as head (Ephesians 1).

And, Jesus’ garden prayer will be answered in full.

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection on The Secret of Unity

Gary@GodReflection.org     www.GodReflection.org

Can Guys Learn to Pray?


GodReflection: Silent God—Seeking His Voice

garyguarujaIt is my observation that we guys are lousy communicators. I know that is to hit you ladies blindsided with an unsuspected revelation that must shake you to your very core.

As I think of those within my sphere of awareness who serve on the offensive lines of prayer not many names of the male species emerge to the forefront of my mind.

When I read Scripture I find women like Anna (Luke 2:37) who never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying and Hannah (1 Samuel 1:12) who kept on praying to the Lord, Eli [the prophet] observed her mouth. Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk.

menpray5Then I read of Jesus’ closes friends and student who take their maleness to the Garden of Gethsemane the night of Jesus’ betrayal. After receiving instructions to pray, Jesus checks on them three times only to find them fast asleep.

Should the truth be told most of my role models for prayer have been men.

For reasons I will not go into here, my church tribe figured out how to use Scripture to make prayer a “males only” activity when women are present. Unfortunately, the result is a lifelong exposure to a rather elementary “prayer-light” menu. That makes for a limited model for learning to pray.

menpray1On other occasions I’ve found myself in situations where praying women were legal. The depth was obvious.  It was apparent their view of prayer was greater than one of an assignment. It was sustenance. It was heart to heart conversation.

We men have a tendency to talk TO God while the ladies seem to talk WITH God.

How do I learn to live prayer more like the gals than the guys?

There is one male role model I can count on.

I find his example and instruction in the Gospels. I can do no better than to measure my prayer life against the example and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth on the subject. 

Jesus conversed with the Father at his baptism, in solitude, during his daily activity, on the eve of his death, and in the process of dying. His conversation with God was guided by his heart. His heart connected with the heart of God.

Jesus came to earth as human to teach me how to be human. God’s desire for me is that I become a new human like His newly created Adam.

God wants heart conversation with His new Adams and Eves restored.

Adam was created whole. Whatever Adam lost through the fall is what God sent Jesus to restore.

CanHe wants me to be a whole man. In wholeness the conversation with the Creator is restored.

God restored my wholeness through my faith in the cross event of Jesus’ death and resurrection.

The conversation line is now restored. Even though the phone line is open, my fallen self still causes static.

I get the sense of the static clearing throughout my walk. By faith I see our conversation also moving toward full restoration.

Okay, I may not be as good at it as the ladies, but I have to believe that over the totality of my life’s walk, even guys can learn to pray.   

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection on Can Guys Learn to Pray?

 

Gary@Godreflection.org     www.GodReflection.org

www.MakeYourVisionGoViral.com

 

 

 

What Is Prayer Anyway?


GodReflection: Silent God—Seeking His Voice

garyguarujaIt was the last Garden conversation between God and His favorite creation.

The purpose of the entire creation project was so that God could experience a new and growing relationship with humankind. I suppose only in eternity will I begin to understand His love affair with us.

The Garden conversation seems so natural—as if it was a common occurrence.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day. . . the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool ofHe (man) answered . . . And He (God) said . . . The man said. . . Then the Lord God said to the woman . . . The woman said . . .  So the Lord God said . . . To the woman he said . . . To Adam he said . . .

Sounds routine to me. All participants seemed to recognize one another. Obviously, it wasn’t an uncommon event.

It makes me wonder. Is it possible that conversation is what God wants out of prayer?

Does He just want to talk with His children? Does He want to communicate His love and concern for us? Does He want to hear about my day? Does He wishfully want me to allow Him to do what He is so willing to do as Father?

Could it be that the ultimate design of prayer is nothing more than keeping the conversation alive?

In my family of origin privacy was not high on the family hierarchy of values. Between four children, grandparents, an aunt, lots of uncles and cousins, plus a church family, a lot of traffic moved through our home. Keys were used only to lock the house on the rare occasion when we traveled.

GodReflection_Silent God Seeking His VoiceDue to the abundance of people I don’t remember many occasions when I had alone time with my dad. He wasn’t by any means an absent father as he was always present—but so were others.

However, those occasions when we were alone—especially later on in life—I remember as special. The more I think about those times the less I recall the details.

The warm memories flow from the conversation itself rather than the subject matter.

God’s perfect harmony with humankind was stained by sin that broke relationship. That disconnect was recorded in a God-designed garden of a newly created earth.

The resultant communication crack continued through history with what I perceive as silent conversation.

I talk without a sound. God responds without a sound.

God's dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.As Scriptures closes there is a scene that shows the reality of a newly created earth. The snapshot is of a return to garden walks and garden conversation.

God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God – Revelation 21:3.

The new earth will bring about a new day when God will once again experience garden walks and an exchange of free-flowing hearts with His children.

So, what is prayer anyway?

Could it be that in addition to a feeble attempt at conversation in the present, prayer is the act that keeps lines of communication open for a time when God’s dream will become reality?

Stay tuned.

Dr. Gary J. Sorrells

A GodReflection on What is Prayer Anyway?

 

Gary@Godreflection.org     www.GodReflection.org

www.MakeYourVisionGoViral.com

 

Seven Reasons to Rejoice: Renewal


untitledI am reading Stormie Omartian’s book “The Power of a Praying Wife.”

As I read this book, I am making a new friend. I wish I could have a cup of coffee with Mrs. Omartian and pick her brain some more. But I cannot. Yet, I can read her thoughts and get to know her heart through her writings.

untitledShe confesses her need for Christ to help her as a wife. She is a flawed author falling on Jesus’ teachings and draws me to want to fall more on God as I learn to be the wife God created me to be.

The Bible is a book written by flawed humans as well, but with a twist. Its ultimate twist is that it is inspired by a Holy, Perfect and Terrifyingly Loving God; the Only God in existence.

God terrifies me sometimes, but His Love draws me to Him at the same time.

I can’t put His Book down.

lightning-880154__180I understand why the people of Israel wanted Moses to go up the mountain for them; meeting God in person is like taking your life in your own hands.

Let me rephrase.

Meeting God is taking your life in your own hands. It is a risk.

dawn-190055__180

But the one who approaches God, as Moses did with humility and reverence, is blessed.

As I study God’s Word, I too stand face-to-face with God in my soul. But I also stand face-to-face with Love, Wisdom and the perfect Father.

bubble-19329__180I learn more each day how to take every thought captive. Every circumstance. Every nuance of life that might threaten my soul.

At the same time I can walk with sure feet because of Jesus. In and of myself, I fail. But with Christ I can do all things that are needing to be done in my life, and sometimes more than I can ever imagine to ask.

God is amazing to give me new days, new mercies and new opportunities to reflect his glory.

training-601214__180Spiritual renewal strengthens me to not only endure, but thrive through my most trying circumstances. And in time, the circumstances change, for change and growth is the only constant in life.

The question is: Is my mind new and fresh today to receive God’s direction?

If I am, I continue walking in blessing. And even if I am not prepared, I know I am walking by grace because God knows my heart and is guiding all circumstances, especially the ones I don’t see coming.

birds-217591__180But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

The same power that raised Jesus from the grave renews me every day, and helps my spirit grow stronger, run faster and soar higher, especially when it feels weak.

Amazing!

You’ve Got Mail


denise-croppedEach morning I exercise. When the body gets moving, so does the mind.

My mind rambles over thoughts, ideas, memories, dreams and goals. It can veer into the nooks and crannies of failures, injustices and negativity. When my mind is working optimally, it’s no coincidence that I am thankful, encouraged, and God and other-focused.

Whatever the case, God knows.

list-820965__180

With each thought, I am writing letters, post-its or blog-posts to God.

He reads all of my mail.

And answers.

I believe God’s work in my soul is a two-step process.

He first works deeply in my innermost being interpreting my requests to the One Living God.

rose-697648__180The Bible tells me so.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words. ­–Romans 8:26

Secondly, God responds with a returned wisdom that doesn’t always have a chapter and verse stamped on it. In fact, it may have a conglomeration of wisdom from his word and wise God-fearers rolled into one response.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all men generously and without reproaching, and it will be given him. –James 1:5

wisdom-92901__180I’m not perfect, which is why I need wisdom. I may not obey the wisdom to everyone’s expectation, but grace covers me while I learn. God knows my heart and the aim of my behavior. When I toss perfectionism out the door, am open to God’s unquestioned wisdom, he gives me more grace in the learning curve.

More grace received, is more grace available to give to others.

God always answers and equips me better than before my petition.

Have you ever been through a season of receiving “no”s, and “wait”s?

It’s okay.

yes-238376__180No” to me simply means, no for now, and “wait” means something better is coming.

Is it easy to take “no” and “wait” for an answer?

No.

But if God is at the other end, then I know I am tethered to Him, he has me in his hand and is watching over my soul for that better thing to come.

plan-707359__180Mine is to be prepared with a clear heart and mind, and to plan only as far as the Holy Spirit gives insight.

It may be better wisdom on a matter, deeper relationships or something I cannot even fathom.

Whatever the case, when I get mail from God, we talk about it.

I am more thankful today than ever for the blessings of life, and my earthly and spiritual families, but it is good to continually let God know how thankful I am.

Sometimes I forget.

But God is gracious. He doesn’t demand or demean.

He simply waits patiently on me, as I wait on him. Or should I say, I wait on God as he so patiently waits on me.

Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you; therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. –Isaiah 30:18

In the end, his aim is to remind me that when I open my mail, I will find his heart. A heart that beats for me and all those who search for him.

heart-159636__180

Amazing!

Any Prayer Gets God Into Life


denise-croppedYears ago I made a decision not to argue with other people’s prayer requests in my mind or even out loud.

I chose to listen and pretend I am in the other person’s shoes; the one courageous enough to speak up about needs and wants.

I don’t argue with God’s work in another’s life. They either have the Holy Spirit living inside them, or he is knocking on their heart’s door.

Either way, God’s Good Spirit is active. I need to remember I am on Holy Ground when someone speaks their heart.

I am thankful that people are praying at all to God, and it gets God into their life.

Praying woman

I have yet to hear anyone courageous enough to speak up about a “frivolous” prayer request, after getting corrected say, “Wow! I am so glad I got corrected.”

What usually happens is people get more nervous, doubtful and silent.

They may even recoil or go to another congregation.

They lose trust not only in the person who “boldly” corrected them, but if in a class, they lose respect for the teacher that didn’t have the courage to validate them.

I also find it rather interesting that the one correcting usually has more materially than the one asking for the prayer request. I have yet to see it the other way around.

Gratitude for God’s tender mercies of health, ability to work and manage materialism can produce worship if we let it. Otherwise it’s easy to let success define us and then modestly set ourselves up as an example to follow.

But sometimes people don’t want as much as we have. They just want a need filled and are seeking camaraderie in their prayer request.

Wouldn’t it be more Christ-like to pray for any request?

If God answers their prayer, celebrate it! Especially if the prayer-requestor is thanking God!

Thanking God

Reasoning that a person should not thank God for a car just because they figured out how to get the money to buy it gets God out of the picture.

Let God in the picture every time someone asks for something, and watch God work!

 

Today I am believing God always hears every prayer, and only he can judge the earnest and those in good standing with him.

But sometimes God is silent.

His silence is like being put on hold, not a flat out “No.”

He may answer it with a better reply replacing the original request.

He may close a door that hurts for a season only to open a better one in due time.

He may bless one with material wealth because he knows they can handle it.

He may bless someone with a more simple life because he knows it will focus them on their precious God-given life, gifts and God himself.

Praying girl

Whatever the case, let people ask anything of God.

Jesus gives us permission.

If you ask anything in my name, I will do it.*

Amazing!

 

*John 14:14

 

Prayer is the Bond


denise-croppedTherefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.Matthew 11:24

Human instinct has a way of blocking the communication lines between Heaven and earth, a most important component in church unity. It suffocates the roots of spiritual maturity, and keeps one from being whole in Christ.

But when human instinct submits itself to prayer, points of view change, actions change and outcomes better glorify our Heavenly Father.

Prayer is a bond holding God’s family closely together.

It precedes and hems in church dynamics generated from vastly different individuals seeking to follow Christ. Among its many functions, prayer empowers when seeking to encourage another, it prepares for the process of educating others and humbles both the giver and receiver of correction.

Prayer as well is the conduit to keep one in right standing before the Lord that the Gospel may continue to be lived out in the life of the believer, and conversely to be spread to others.

It’s not an intellectual or emotional exercise. Rather, a pointed, purifying and purposeful practice.

When human instinct seeks to offer advice to loved ones and friends at the expense of praying for those same friends, a different spirit may be at work, not necessarily the Holy Spirit of God.

While I believe God uses my will to speak his will to others, sometimes life can get complex. Only the Holy Spirit can bring clarity in the fog, thereby helping one’s words flow more from the Fountain of Living Water than merely from my own mind. His guidance is superior to my noble and well-thought out advice.

Prayer clears the lines between the heart of the believer and God. It’s the open door between earth and Heaven. It is the pathway to take hurting people and sinful humans to God that I not fall into the trap of being their Holy Spirit when inappropriate.

I think of two verses that speak deeply to my soul on this matter:

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. – Proverbs 3:27

Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles; lest the LORD see it, and be displeased, and turn away his anger from him. – Proverbs 24:17-18

The hurting need prayer partners, not one more “Job’s friend.” And my adversaries need redemption before God, not my judgment. Christ lived through keeping the lines open with the Father in prayer.* His prayer closet was handmade by the Father in the beginning of time. He went to the mountains.

My aim is to follow Christ.

My prayer closet is anywhere I can be alone with God in thought. Sometimes I cannot get away, but must make do with the place where I am. I have to reign in my thinking, turning my mind’s words into petitions to God that I not be condemned by the very thoughts I allow to run loosely in my soul.

As a wonderful end cap on the subject of Job’s friends, the Scripture speaks these words of life, “And the LORD restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends…”

Who needs the healing hand of the Father through prayer today as opposed to my advice?

Just wondering.

Denise@GodReflection.org

*Matthew 14:23, Mark 6:46, Luke 6:12 & 9:28, John 17:15 & 20