Have you tried shutting up?

December 16, 2013 under Unlikely Christian
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Hey there good Christian,

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Got some people in your life far from Christ?

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I know right?  “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.”  – Luke 10:2 

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I know you’ve read that before, so you know you have your work cut out for you and since the workers are few, that means you have to work harder right?  Because, “…..how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?  And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!”Romans 10:14-15 

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So you’re telling them about Jesus, inviting them to church/encouraging them to find a good church home, inviting them to your Community Group/Bible Study/Life Group, giving them Bibles, etc…..

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And you mean to tell me that some of them still aren’t open to it?

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Hmm…..

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Well have you tried shutting up?

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No, the above wasn’t a typo, but before you call me a big meanie and go back to crushing more candy, please hear me out.

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We are called by God to help reach the lost, to be the light etc…..I get it, but we also have to be mindful of the possibility that SOMETIMES our actions, words and persistence could be doing more harm than good, especially if your attempts haven’t been received well.

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Look, I know you’re just doing what you feel like you should be doing as a Christian, but some people won’t see it that way.

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Let me break it down for you.

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You see yourself as a good Christian who’s just trying to save their soul.  They see you as a pushy Christian with an agenda.  #GoAway

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You see yourself as a good Christian who knows how much God has changed your life and you want it so badly for this person as well.  They see you as somebody who just doesn’t know when to stop.  #TheyRankTelemarketersHigherThanYou

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You see yourself as a good Christian who’s just trying to shine your light.  They see you as a three year old with a flashlight.  #DangMyEyes!  And while it’s true that Jesus used blindness to help convert Saul/Paul, you aren’t Jesus.   

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Seriously, some people just aren’t ready, and the more you push it, the more you are widening the gap rather than closing it.  Believe me when I tell you this, because I used to be that guy who wished Christians would just keep all that Jesus stuff to themselves.  You know how many of those Christians that continually beat me over the head with “Jesus talk” actually brought me closer to God?  ZERO.  They made me loathe Christians.

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Sometimes you just have to back off.  Even Jesus told His disciples that, If any household or town refuses to welcome you or listen to your message, shake its dust from your feet as you leave.” – Matthew 10:14

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Does that mean you should give up on these people?

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Umm…..no.

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Just shut up and…..

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Pray for them.  God is the one who changes people anyway.  It’s not your job to save everybody.  I know it might feel like it, especially if they are family, but it’s not.  Give it to God continually and then some more and then some more.  It may take 10, 20, 30 years, heck you might not even be around to see it come to fruition, but keep it up.  I’m the product of at least 15 years of continual prayer.

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Be a sermon instead of preaching one.  Actions speak louder than words so always be walking the walk. 

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And…..

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Love them.  #Verb

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We are not called to personally lead EVERYBODY we know to Christ. 

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This is God’s Orchestra.

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Sometimes He’ll let us get the song started with a beautiful cello solo, other times He might only call on us to strike the triangle a couple of times.  Sometimes we might get a big part – playing throughout the song.  And sometimes, If we’re lucky, He may let us play the final note in the grand finale, but sometimes, the song may not call for our instrument at all.  No matter how much we want to clang our cymbals, it’s just not meant to be.

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I know you want to, I know it feels like you need to, but don’t do it.

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Instead.

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Pray.

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Be a sermon.

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Love.

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And keep your cymbals at the ready, and your eye on The Great Conductor.

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Prayer Superstar, not me.

November 24, 2012 under Unlikely Christian
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Prayer Superstars…..Yeah I’m not one of those.

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You know the type – Their prayers are elegant, flowing things of beauty.  They sound so polished, they say just the right words, throw in just the right scripture, and cover all 172 prayer requests like they have a teleprompter in their brain.  Prayer superstars leave me feeling so prayer inadequate, because I, am certainly no prayer superstar.  I really want to be, but instead of superstar mode, my brain goes etch-a-sketch mode.  I start out with a good intro, you know, I’m drawing some stairs, but then my etch-a-sketch brain gets shaken so there’s nothing but a blank slate, yet I continue to talk.  And in the end my prayer turns out about as good as a 3 year old’s circle on an etch-a-sketch.  

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Seriously, I’m not the best when it comes to public prayer.  I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I once ended a public prayer with, “……aaaaand……yeah……that’s about it…..Amen.”  That is a true story my friends.  So truth be told, I’m not always quick to jump in when it comes to public prayer.  I’ll do it, but if somebody else can handle it, let’s roll with them, because chances are it will turn out better. 

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Yeah, I know, my last post was all about the importance of spontaneously praying with somebody, and now I’m talking about how hard public prayer can be – Just keeping it real here folks.  That being said, I will still spontaneously pray for you.  #RingingEndorsement

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Now before you start looking elsewhere for prayer, let me just say that there have been times where I’ve knocked some prayers out of the park, so much so, that even I was surprised, but just be forewarned, my prayers, “are like a box of chocolates…..”  I so hope you finished that sentence in a Forest Gump voice.

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So…..why am I talking about prayer today?

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Well, it’s like this.

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Yesterday was Thanksgiving, so I spent a little time thinking about the things I was thankful for, and then for some reason I started thinking about the Thanksgiving Blessing.  I thought about what I might say, about how it might sound, about what I could add in there that might be helpful for others, about the impact a good prayer can have, and then I thought yeah, I totally need to do this. 

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The more I thought about it though, the more ‘box of chocolate’ scenarios started playing out in my mind.  So I spent a little more time being thankful.  Thankful that Thanksgiving wasn’t going to be at my house this year, and since the Thanksgiving Blessing usually defaults to a homeowner, I knew my father-in-law would handle it.  I was in the clear.  Worst case scenario, I’m in the Speaker of the House position in that prayer chain of command, so no need for prayer anxiety.

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Whew…..

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The End.

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Yeah…..not so much.

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Because when we sat down to eat, nobody immediately grabbed the prayer reins.

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Uh-oh. 

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Now I’m not afraid of an uncomfortable silence.  I’ve often said, and proven on many occasions, that I can out wait anybody in that category, so I waited.

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Mother-in-law looks at father-in-law, who then defers back to her.

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Uh-oh.

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Mother-in-law doesn’t immediately start praying.

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Uh-oh.

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Out of the corner of my eye, I see my wife looking at me.  (Don’t meet her eyes Bill, don’t acknowledge her look, don’t do it).

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More silence…..

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Mother-in-law asks if I’d like to say the blessing.

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…..umm…..Sure…..

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“Life is like a box of chocolates.”

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How’d it go? 

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Well when I finished, my daughter started ribbing me, referencing the prayer scene from “Meet the Parents.”  So yeah…..   

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Dang it…..

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Thankfully I had the day off today so I could spend some time over-analyzing it, because that’s what I do, and I came to a couple conclusions. 

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#1 – When I pray in public, I want to be a prayer superstar.  I’ve been getting too caught up in the presentation.  I want so badly to do a good job, to say the right words for maximum effect for all ears listening, especially if there are people far from God present, that I forget to talk to God.  So in essence, I’m not really praying, I’m just talking.  I used to wonder why the Holy Spirit wouldn’t come to my aid in these situations, now I know it’s because I wasn’t really praying.

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#2 – I need to practice.  I’m never going to get better at praying in public, if I tend to avoid it.  That should be easier if I can get past #1 and just talk to God.  

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So basically, I need to practice just talking to God and not worry about anything else.

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That there’s a good prescription.  Anybody else need to fill their’s after yesterday?

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And now for your viewing pleasure, here’s the “Meet the Parents” prayer scene.

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I’ll pray for you…….if I remember to.

November 17, 2012 under Unlikely Christian
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“I’ll pray for you.”

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How many times have you said that?

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How many times have you actually followed through?

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Okay, that sounded a little accusatory, let me rephrase.  How many times has that promise to pray for somebody slipped your mind?

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Or, how many times have you remembered at the end of a prayer, so you just throw it on?

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“God, help me with this, that and the other stuff, AMEN……wait…..and be with Jimbo”

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Let’s just be honest here.  Nobody bats .1000.  I know I’m guilty on both accounts.

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Guess what?

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There’s an easy fix.

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It’s called the “Right here, right now” prayer.  And the way it works is, you don’t say, “I’ll pray for you.”  Instead you say, “Can I pray for you right here, right now?”  And then, you pray with/for them right then and there.

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Whoa……hold on there.  That might be a tad uncomfortable. 

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IKR? (That’s “I know right?” for those of you who don’t have a teenage daughter.)

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Uncomfortable?

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Not for some of you prayer superstars out there, but to others like me?  It’s Uncomfortable City.

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Here’s the deal though, Jesus didn’t call us to a life of comfort.  The Red Letter words, “Follow me and live a trouble-free life of comfort” are nowhere in The Bible.  Trust me, I’ve looked.   #FanOfComfort

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I’ve been on both ends of a “Right here, right now” prayer and I can tell you, it’s a powerful thing for both, but most importantly, it shows the love of Christ, which is something that we as Christians should always be striving to do.

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The “Right here, right now” prayer – Opportunities for YOU, coming soon.

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Do it, it’s a true blessing.

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My prayer life

July 4, 2011 under Unlikely Christian
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Prayer.

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–noun

1. a devout petition to God.

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2. a spiritual communion with God, as in supplication, thanksgiving, adoration, or confession.

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3. the act or practice of praying to God.

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4. Something I don’t do nearly enough.

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Prayer for some reason has always been a little awkward and difficult for me.   First of all I’m not very good at it.   Please don’t ever ask me to say grace before a meal.   Seriously, the last time I did that, the prayer ended with, “……and that’s about it……Amen.”   True story.   It was pathetic.

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I’ve always been uneasy asking God for things as well.   Partially because I’ve had a pretty (undeserved) blessed life.   With so many people truly struggling in our world I haven’t felt right about asking God for what seems trivial in comparison.   So usually my prayers are prayers of forgiveness, repentance, thanksgiving and for others.   When I do pray for myself, it’s rarely specific.   I usually just pray for general guidance, wisdom or help.

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For whatever reason I’ve also always struggled with asking God for His input in what I deem the little things or things I think I can handle, take care of or figure out on my own.   I tend to have a, “I got this” attitude in general.   Maybe it’s a guy thing, I don’t know.   But I know that’s not what God wants.

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The Bible tells us to, “…..Pray about everything.” – Philippians 4:7 and “Never stop praying.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:17. It tells us to be persistent in our asking – Luke 11:5-8.   It tells us to approach God as ‘Our Father’.   It tells us over and over that God loves us and He wants to give to us and knows how to give to us.   And…..AND…. He knows exactly what we need.

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I guess what my prayer life shows (and I just now, at the very moment of writing this figured this out) is that I’m not very dependent on God.   Ouch.   I don’t really like the sound of that but it’s true.   I can disguise it to myself as, “No I just don’t want to bother Him with the small stuff or I’m not deserving or I don’t want to treat Him like a some genie in a bottle” but really, it’s more of me depending/relying on myself and not God.

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You know it’s strange.   I’ve been searching for a new church home for the last year.   During that year we’ve tried out somewhere close to 10 churches.   None of which were the right church for us.   It was a very frustrating time.   I’m guessing God was frustrated too, not because I couldn’t find a church but because not once, during that year, did I ever ask for His input in the matter.   Not once.   I used my, “I got this” attitude and it got me nowhere but frustrated.

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My wife, who is an amazing person with an amazing prayer life (and was also probably very frustrated with me) implored me to give it completely to God.   After much kicking, screaming and arm twisting, I finally did and an amazing thing happened.   God told me which church to go to (you can read the whole story HERE if you’d like).   Wow! I know right?!?!   I asked God, “What church?” and He told me. He actually told me!   What, Did I really think that if I asked for an egg that God was going to give me a scorpion? – Luke 11:11-13. I don’t know what I thought but He answered me and we are now at the church where we are supposed to be and it feels right!   I can’t tell you how nice it is to look forward to Sundays again.  So why didn’t I do this a year ago?   Because I’m an idiot?   Wait, don’t answer that.

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So one would think an event like that might jumpstart a great prayer life with more dependence/reliance on God.   Yes one might think that but for some reason I’m complicated with stubbornness and a side order of “I got this” syndrome.

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Being a Christian is a journey.   It’s a journey filled with opportunities for growth like right now.   I sat down planning on writing a whimsical post about my lousy prayer life and how I need to work on it but in the process I ending up learning the core problem of my lousy prayer life – I’m not really relying on God.

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It’s painfully clear to me now (Thanks God!).   So I hope today is the beginning of the end of that for me.   Oh I know a part of me will probably always struggle with it.   ‘I got this’ syndrome doesn’t disappear overnight but with God’s help, I know I can turn the corner and begin relying on Him.  Not just for the big stuff but with the small stuff as well.

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He’s there.   He’s listening and He’s ready to help.   Billy Graham once said, “Heaven is full of answers to prayers for which no one ever bothered to ask.”

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So what time is it?   It’s time to start asking.

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Dear God, #Mavs #Heat #Canucks #Bruins

June 12, 2011 under Unlikely Christian
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Prayer.

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The Bible tells us to, “…..Pray about everything.” – Philippians 4:7 – NLT & to, “Never stop praying.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:17 – NLT

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So with the NBA Finals and NHL Stanley Cup Finals in full swing I can’t help but wonder how many people are/have been bringing prayers regarding these series to God.

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I’m not talking about prayers that sound like this, “God may you watch over these players, keep them safe, help them to remember that their talent was God given for the purpose of Your glorification etc….”  I’m guessing there’ve been more like these:

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“God please help The Mavs persevere over the evil Heat just like David took down Goliath.”

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“God, please help the Canucks bring the Stanley Cup back to Canada where it belongs!”

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“Lord, please help Lebron show up in the 4th quarter.” (Hold on there, did I just take a shot at Lebron?  Gosh no!)

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And the list goes on: @GOD – #LebronScore60 #MakeDirkUnstoppable #HelpTheBig3Dominate #LuongoStruggle #KingJamesWinTheCrown #SprainAnAnkle #BringTheTrophy2Dallas #DWadeFoodPoisoning (Relax, tongue is in cheek, sort of.) #ThomasStandOnHisHeadInGoal #DallasNoTurnovers #HelpTerryHit20ThreePointersTonight!!!

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I’m also betting there will be some bargaining going on. “God, you just let them win this series and next Sunday, I’ll be in the front pew.”

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What does God do with these prayers? I know God likes to hear from His people but does He like these prayers or does He find them highly inappropriate? The Bible does say to pray about everything and this does fall under that broad category but I can’t help but think that God probably doesn’t care much for these “Genie in a Bottle” types of prayers.

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Friendly reminder: God is not our Genie in a Bottle.

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I bet God is saddened by these types of prayers. Saddened by our misdirected (God-given) passion. I bet He wishes we would be as passionate about Him and His people as we are our favorite sports teams. Imagine what the world would look like if that were the case. If all the die hard (insert team of your choice here) fanatics became die hard God fanatics.

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Now before you start picturing a bunch of nuts with painted faces, rainbow afro wigs wearing yellow “John 3:16” shirts, stop. That’s not what I’m talking about. I think those people do more harm to the cause of Christianity than good. I’m talking about authentic God fanatics that are passionate about Him and doing His work. Can you imagine what that would look like?  Wow!  It would change the world for sure!

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Hey don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t watch sports, have favorite teams, wear their colors, paint our faces, go to their games, cheer for them, be happy when they win & sad when they lose but in the grand scheme of things, as Christians, we need to make sure we aren’t elevating them to idol status. Gotta keep things in perspective.

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As Christians we should reserve our strongest, deepest passions for the things that God is passionate about.

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On a personal note, “Let’s Go Mavs!” 🙂

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