Parker Firehouse Church

We should all be more “ruthless” about this.

We should all be more “ruthless” about this.

Hello! I hope you’re enjoying this warm Fall weather while it lasts!

Recently, Drew and I started reading a book called The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry by John Mark Comer.  In light of this, I wanted to review the classic Bible passage about Martha and Mary that immediately came to my mind, and share some challenging and convicting quotes and excerpts from this book so far.

She [Martha] had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. [40] But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” [41] But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; [42] but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:39-42

‘If the devil can’t make you sin, he’ll make you busy.’ -Corrie ten Boom

‘Hurry kills relationships. Love takes time; hurry doesn’t have it.’ -John Mark Comer

‘But love is painfully time consuming.’ -John Mark Comer

‘If there’s a secret to happiness, it’s simple—presence in the moment. The more present we are to the now, the more joy we tap into.’ -John Mark Comer

‘We are more busy than bad, more distracted than nonspiritual, and more interested in the movie theatre, the sports stadium, and the shopping mall and the fantasy life they produce in us than we are in church. Pathological busyness, distraction, and restlessness are major blocks today within our spiritual lives.’ – Ronald Rolheiser

‘For many of us the great danger is not that we will renounce our faith. It is that we will become so distracted and rushed and preoccupied that we will just settle for a mediocre version of it. We will skim our lives instead of actually living them.’ -John Ortberg

‘Attention is the beginning of devotion.’ – Mary Oliver

‘Worship and joy start with the capacity to turn our minds’ attention toward the God who is always with us in the now.’ – John Mark Comer

‘Attention leads to awareness [of God]’ – John Mark Comer

‘So many people live without a sense of God’s presence through the day… We sit around sucked into our phones or TV or to-do lists, oblivious to the God who is around us, with us, in us, even more desirous than we are for relationship.’ -John Mark Comer

Obviously, these thoughts are probably convicting for us all, so let’s be “ruthless” to carve out some time to slow down this week, open our Bibles, sit at the Lord’s feet (seeking to be aware of His presence), and listen to what He might impress upon our hearts or minds.

Encouraging Bible verses in light of the craziness of 2020 and the upcoming Presidential election!

Encouraging Bible verses in light of the craziness of 2020 and the upcoming Presidential election!

I read an encouraging article about prayer this week by David Wells (Prayer: Rebelling Against the Status Quo). In it he said this about prayer, “In essence, it is rebellion—rebellion against the status quo, the state of the world in its sin and fallenness.”

Conversely, he said that to not pray is to accept “life as it is (i.e. accepting the inevitability of the way things are in life).”

It reminded me that in these last few days leading up to the 2020 Election and in light of potentially more craziness left in 2020, that I need to be praying proactively and persistently and with a galvanized faith to overcome the naturally broken challenges we face.

Here are a few verses that will hopefully strengthen your faith and encourage your hearts to pray in a way that rebels against the “status qoa” and against accepting the natural circumstances hurled at us from this broken world:

Psalm 46:1-3 (NIV) “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” Psalm 46:1-3 (NIV)

  • Because God is our ever-present help, WE WILL NOT FEAR, “Though the earth give way…” or even if ‘__________ wins the Presidency.’

Psalm 46:10 (NAS) “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

  • ‘Let go and relax’ because God is God (and we are not) and He has got this!

Psalm 120:1-2 (NIV) “I call on the LORD in my distress, and he answers me. Save me, O LORD, from lying lips and from deceitful tongues.”

  • Have any stress in your life or anything troubling you? I know I do. This is a great example for us all to follow!

Psalm 121:1-2 (NLT) “I look up to the mountains–does my help come from there? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth!”

  • He made the heavens and the earth and everything in them, so there’s no better to place for us to look for help!

Psalm 125:1 (NIV) “Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever.”

  • God and His Kingdom are the only things that will not be shaken, so let’s make sure we are solely anchored there!

Romans 10:11,13 (NIV) As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame”… for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

  • If you’ve called on Jesus as your Lord, you will be saved! If your trust is in the sure foundation of Jesus Christ, you’ll never be put to shame!

Psalm 123:1 (ESV) “To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens!”

  • It’s refreshing to remember that God the Father and the Lamb of God are currently enthroned and reign from Heaven (See Revelation chapters 1 & 4)! The Kingdom of God is expanding on Earth and the dominion of the devil is shrinking, and the history of God’s victory and the devil’s defeat are already recorded in the book of Revelation!

Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT) “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. [7] Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

  • We can give our worries and anxieties to God in prayer request and God promises to give us His peace in exchange!

Matthew 21:21-22 (NIV) Then Jesus told them, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt, you can do things like this and much more. You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. [22] You can pray for anything, and if you have faith, you will receive it.”

  • Jesus promised that our faith-filled prayers can move the mountains that we face! Do you believe His promise?

Mark 9:23 (NLT) “What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”[24] The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

  • When we don’t believe God’s promises, we should confess our unbelief as sin and ask God for help to overcome it!

Luke 18:1 (ESV) “And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.”

  • Let’s keep on praying because God honors and responds to our faith-filled persistence!

Praying with you!
–Rich

Trust God for the good that we have yet to see!

Trust God for the good that we have yet to see!

“Is it really Naomi?” the women asked. [20] “Don’t call me Naomi,” she responded. “Instead, call me Mara, *[ Naomi means “pleasant”; Mara means “bitter.”] for the Almighty has made life very bitter for me. [21] I went away full, but the LORD has brought me home empty. Why call me Naomi when the LORD has caused me to suffer.” –Ruth 1:19-21c (NLT)

As I read Naomi’s story this morning, an encouragement stood out to me that seemed to relate to what we are facing in light of the Coronavirus. Naomi had indeed experienced a season of great hardship and tragedy, arguably more than any of us have experienced in regards to this pandemic. 

In the course of about 10 years, she had left her homeland, lost her husband, and then lost her only two children. And now she was headed home heart-broken and empty-handed, except for one loyal daughter-in-law.

The point that caught my attention the most was that Naomi seemed to have been a little short-sighted about the good that God was going to bring about in her life still, even in spite of all the brokenness and hardship she had endured.

I know we’ve probably all been spurred on at some point during this COVID-19 trial to take stock of the good that’s come out of this so far. And I think that’s a great thing to continue to do. But I think even more importantly, Naomi’s example reminded me that we need to trust God for the good he promises to do (see Romans 8:28) THAT WE HAVE YET TO SEE!

Roughly two years after Naomi returned to her homeland and had thrown God “under the bus”, we read what God brought about in Ruth 4:14-16 (NLT):

The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the LORD, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer.  May he become famous throughout Israel! [15] He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.” [16] Then Naomi took the child, laid him in her lap and cared for him.

Naomi became a grandmother and basically was able to raise this child like her own. This boy went on to become the grandfather of King David and eventually caused her family to be included in the physical lineage of Jesus Christ. Talk about God’s ability to “work all things together for good!” 

For Naomi it was two years before she saw a glimpse of what God was ultimately going to bring about. For Joseph, you might remember that it was 13 years in slavery and then in prison (see Genesis 37-50) before He saw the good that God was bringing about for him.
How long will it be before you and I will see some of the greater good that God will use this tragedy to bring about in our lives?

Again the point to me and to all of us, is to not only be thankful for the good that we can see now, but also to trust God for the good that we have yet to see, here on Earth and an ultimately in Heaven, too!

Let’s keep trusting God together through the homestretch!
Press on,
–Rich