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I was talking with Sarah on Saturday night and the topic of intercession came up (as it usually does in conversations that I have). My passion was stirred, her concern was voiced, and we ended up in a very good discussion of what intercession really is. Why do we see this type of prayer–any type of prayer, for that matter–like a monologue with a Supreme Power who’s supposed to know everything anyway? Why does seem like, as one person has put it, as if we tell God the things that He tells us to tell Him? It all seems so…unnecessary. And boring. And a waste of God-given time, talent, and resources.

But what if this isn’t what He had in mind at all? Could this possible be our failure to grasp something much greater and more profound? Something that, in the heart of God, could be used to touch not only others in our community, but possible God Himself? Yes, Sarah and I exclaimed in agreement. You see, the motivation for a praying lifestyle isn’t the answers we get to those prayers. “What?”, you say to yourselves. “Why take the time?” “Shouldn’t I just get busy doing good, spreading love, and all that other Christian stuff we’re told to do?” Yes, I say, but there’s so much more to it all if we would just take the time to get in touch with God.

I submit to you that the motivation for intercession, supplication, meditation, and all the other forms of conversing with God is to touch God Himself. We don’t want to just give lip-service to His goodness, His awesomeness, His glory. We don’t just want to settle for an answered prayer and then be on our merry way. We want to touch transcendence. We want to encounter the Holy One, and be changed in the process. We want to know what Jesus thinks about us–how He feels about us and how much He enjoys us.

I picture two people together on a park bench.  One is weighed down with his thoughts, emotions, and other burdens of life.  His friend comes along and strikes up a conversation, but the topics all revolve around around himself.  He never bothers to ask his friend what seems to be troubling him.  There’s no hint of sensitivity or sympathy.  Oh, how the second man could be a striking picture of me!

Now, some will argue that God is not weighed down with troubles, cares, or emotions.  But I find these to be the very same who have never asked the Lord for what’s on His heart.  They are more concerned with telling us what they think God should be like.  Well, I profess an Almighty God who is not only full of joy and happiness for all that He has made, but also One who feels every trouble of His beloved ones and even the groan of the entire creation as it reels under the weight of sin.  Is this not perhaps worth being in touch with?  The God complete in perfect knowledge and wisdom all the while feeling all that goes on?

And so, in meditating upon this, prayer can be seen as coming before the Lord to get a sense of what is on His heart.  Then, after receiving the impartation of His emotions, we then speak out what action is required to change the world around us.  It’s His perspective being made a living reality through His grace and power.  Assuming to think and speak for God without this humble posture is nothing less that self-promotion and self-worship.  And the world doesn’t need what I think it needs.  It needs His answers to His prayers.

The best case for a life of intercession comes from Jesus Himself.  The Scriptures say, “He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercessionfor them” (Hebrews 7:25).  The Bible puts our salvation (our healing, wholeness, holiness, deliverance, among other things) into the hands of a Man who lives a life of vigilant watch.  Who is better connected to our needs as they truly are?  Who better, then, to imitate in this lifestyle of devotion?  Amen.

The Shack

After a weighty recommendation, I have recently finished reading The Shack by William Young.  I expected this book to have and immediate impact due to all the positive reviews on the internet, but I seem to be the same person I was before I opened its pages.  I’m still hoping that is has deep, long-lasting residual effects, much like an oak that takes its time spreading out a root system before deciding to rise high above the horizon.

I can’t say much without giving away significant plot points.  The main character’s name is Mack, a man whose past haunts him even if he won’t admit to it.  He receives an cryptic invitation that would take him to the epicenter of his pain.

The Shack doesn’t disappoint.  What I enjoy most about this book is that it unites head and heart for a perpetual tug-of-war.  For anyone willing to face God-questions head-on, and in practical, everyday scenarios, this is a must-read.  You will find yourself gazing hard into your own heart to search for perceived meaning and answers, all the while contemplating difficult solutions to what humanity has asked from the Divine since our beginning.

And to many, this makes absolutely no sense.  And it’s perfect in clarity all at the same time.

Josh

Sarah and I are planning our wedding, as we have been for about a month.  Overall, it’s been a pleasant experience.  Sarah is great.  She is taking on much of the responsibility and asking me to be involved only on the major decisions.  It’s not that I don’t want to be deeply involved, it’s just that she’s been thinking about this day for a lot longer than I have.  And so I’ve taken a posture of support and agreement–something she makes very easy for me.

Pic

Gorgeous, isn’t she?

And as I have wedding plans in mind, I have come across a wonderful quote by A.W. Tozer:

I once heard Dr. George D. Watson, one of the great Bible teachers of his generation, point out that men can have two kinds of love for God–the love of gratitude or the love of excellence.  He urged that we go on from gratefulness to a love of God just because He is God and because of the excellence of His character.

Unfortunately, God’s children rarely go beyond the boundaries of gratitude.  I seldom hear anyone in worshipful prayer admiring and praising God for His eternal excellence.

Many of us are strictly “Santa Claus” Christians.  We think of God as putting up the Christmas tree and putting our gifts underneath.  That is only an elementary kind of love.

We need to go on.  We need to know the blessing of worshiping in the presence of God without thought of wanting to rush out again.  We need to be delighted in the presence of utter, infinite excellence. (What Ever Happened to Worship?)

That last line captures me.  That’s what I want.  For it’s only in the discovery of the Excellent One can we appreciate the beauty in this life, weddings included.

Here’s the link to the Life of David study I’m listening to (under “David”):

http://www.heburnsforme.com/Mike_Bickle.html

I couldn’t recommend it more.

Currently, I’m studying the Life of David.  He has been portrayed to me in the past as a sort of manic, whose ups and downs are recorded in the book of the Psalms.  But interestinly enough, that view has been challenge (successfully) by a number of resources I’ve been consulting.  One in particular is Mike Bickle audio teachings “Studies in the Life of David.”  One particular session has caught my thoughts.  It concerns David’s core realities, which Bickle considers to be intimacy with God and meekness before men.

The interesting thing about David is, while he himself records his highs and lows, they are always directed toward the Lord.  Without fail, David continuously looks to God for solutions, never to his own abilities.  David celebrating victory.  David wondering about life.  David on the run.

We can either look at David as though he’s way too in touch with his emotions–like he needs some good medication and settle down for a moment to catch his breathe–or we can face ourself in his story.  It’s our wandering thoughts, our celebrations, our depression that we can see in this mighty king.  This king is someone we can relate to.  If we’re honest about ourselves.  With ourselves.

What I enjoy about David is that he’s not too far out there.  He’s no Paul (although when you look at Paul’s life, his highs and lows become more evident, he becoming more and more tangible to the imagination).  He’s his own man, living his own life.  From the pasture the palace, David is his own man in the making, being fashioned by God into the king who will go down in the history books as a man after God’s own heart.  But few details are spared in telling the David-story, I think because the Lord wanted to display someone we can relate to as we are searching out this life for meaning and for direction and for God.  David is definitley someone I can imagine myself emulating.  Or just hanging out with.

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