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Your best isn’t good enough

Your best isn’t good enough

It is not that we are competent in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our competence is from God. 2 Cor. 3:5

No matter what subject I teach from now on, I think I’m going to call it, “Loving People Who Are Hard to Like.” You should probably do that, too, if you teach some sort of class somewhere and want lots of people to come. I’m serious. Call it that, even if you’re really teaching a class in aroma therapy. Just trust me on this. People will come in droves.

That was the title of the seminar I taught at the BGCO statewide ladies’ retreat this weekend, and WOW! I had no idea how popular the topic would be. I wish I had taken a picture so you could understand how packed that room was each of the three times I taught it. There were 2300 women at this retreat, and it seemed like they were all trying to fit in the room at once. 30 minutes before the session started, all the chairs were taken, and people just kept pouring in. At “go” time, I had about 1 square foot of space to call my own, and women were standing in the doorways and out in the atrium to listen from there.

Of course, that so many people long for that sort of relational help says a lot, and could be a blog topic all on its own. But, for today, I want to talk about something else.

After the first two sessions on Friday afternoon, plus participating in the two main sessions in the auditorium, I was pretty spent. I found myself dragging a bit on Saturday morning as I made my way up the hill back to my room for the 3rd and final session that I would teach. It seems like it’s easy to get geared up to teach that first time, but by the third, the temptation is to just coast. Add that to the weariness, and the fact that I hadn’t found a Coke Zero anywhere, and I was facing the very real possibility of coming across much like the monotone economics teacher who put everyone to sleep on Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: “Anyone? Anyone? Something-d-o-o economics. Voodoo economics”

I didn’t want to do that, so I prayed. It went something like this: “God, I just want to give them my best.” And just as soon as the words came out, He spoke to my spirit: “But we could give them so much more.”

First, I laughed. Because I knew exactly what He meant and how right He (naturally) was. But I’m not gonna lie, my second thought was, “That’s kinda scary.” I mean, I’ve read the Bible. I know at least some of the stuff God can do when people leave things up to Him. I wasn’t sure I was really up for that.

I don’t know about you, but I think I probably forget just how powerful God is, and how He can reveal that power through me, way too often. Also, I shy away from it from time to time because it scares me. Ephesians 3:20 says that He’s able to do far more than we can ask or imagine through His power that works in us. When Job considered all the ways God has revealed His power, he said, “These are but the fringes of His ways; how faint is the word we hear of Him! Who can understand His mighty thunder?”

Clearly, I was praying too small. Don’t get me wrong. Certainly God is pleased when we give Him our best. But. as we do, it’s important to remember that, even on our very best day, we aren’t sufficient in our talents and abilities. Our sufficiency comes from God, and He has plans way bigger than we ever could.

You can do your best at your job this week, and you should. I’m sure your patients, clients, employer, or employees will really appreciate it. Your best can earn you a nice paycheck and the admiration of people. Some people might feel good because of your efforts, and that’s great.

I’m just wondering what would happen if you, and I, invited God to give them more.

Originally posted on Cynthia’s blog.

The Pleasing Aroma of Prayer

The Pleasing Aroma of Prayer

My three-year-old son doesn’t like to pray.

He doesn’t really grasp abstract concepts like God and Jesus yet.  He’s pretty sure Spiderman hung the moon in the sky.

I try not to get too fussy about it; I know these things take time.  And if I am honest, prayer is one of my weakest spiritual disciplines.

I still remember sitting in a class for young seminary wives as the teacher went over a prayer notebook she had given us. The weight of the notebook was like a load of guilt on my heart as she explained how we ought to be systematically praying over each aspect of life, ministry, country, family, etc, on a daily and weekly schedule, so as to insure we didn’t miss anything.

I think I gave up right then and there.

This is how Ben closes his eyes.

So, I am circling back, kneeling down, and asking God to teach me.

Teach me to pray.  I’m ready now.

And I’m beginning to see this: prayer is this way of making the invisible kingdom visible. For we live in this loud world, but we serve this quiet, invisible God.

In the Old Testament, the priest burned incense in the temple, and it pleased the Lord, and the priest prayed for the people of Israel.

But now, we kneel or we close our eyes, or we lift them up in prayer, and the Holy Spirit swells within us, rising to God with the fragrant aroma of burning holiness and this is our incense now.

And if we could see it, the power of these quiet, invisible prayers, rising to heaven and filling Revelation’s golden bowls before His throne, I wonder if we wouldn’t struggle so much to pray.

Abba Father inhales the sweet scent of our whispered words and He is pleased.

We believe in this invisible kingdom, we trust in You as Father, and so we pray, Thy will be done.

So be it.

Revelation 5:8 “…each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.”
Psalm 141:2 “May my prayer be counted as incense before You; the lifting up of my hands as the evening offering.”