Monday, 24 March 2008

Relationship not works.

I first sat down to write this article on Sunday the 22nd of Feb 2004. The background context is that I was writing it for a mens prayer organization which explains it's emphasis towards men.

I was sitting at the kitchen table. There were a myriad of thoughts, ideas, quotes & insights of various things intermingled with many doubts about my ability to really be able to write any thing truly relevant flowing through my mind.
My wife came to join me with a cuppa in her hand, asking me what I was doing? she asked me what exactly I was going to write about? I explained some more about " and how John had reminded me I only had 3 weeks to get in this article a week before. So in reality I only had 2 weeks left to go.
Using her wifey type of advice she promptly said to me, "You better go and spend some more time with the Lord and pray about it" "Good advice" I thought with a non sanctified grumble, "What do you think I have been doing all week, in fact I have been doing that for some months now ever since we first spoke about the newsletter. "Suddenly the clouds lifted, the heavens parted, the confusion in my mind went away and I knew exactly what to say. Excuse me a moment ummphhh, grooaan, ahhhh, ouch, crunch, while I position my soap box, that's it, stretch, step up, gee that's better I'm standing on it now gee I can see a long way from here. :)

The Apostle Paul says, "that the weapons we fight with have divine power to pull down strongholds" today I want to challenge and pull down the strongholds that hold us back from walking the walk with God. That stronghold is that of us having to do stuff. "What do you mean you ask"? Let me explain.

I am a married man with 5 sons ( 3 of whom are step sons) I turned 37 early on in Feb, I am very active in our local church, as well as other ministry organizations, I run my own small business, I love to go fishing - though I rarely find the time and my wife has two lists in each hand longer than her arms of things needed and wanting to be done around the house. In other words I am busy. Not only am I busy, I reckon most of you are also busy people, in fact probably you are more busier than I am.
How often have you heard this or at least words to this effect "You need to be reading the Bible more, You need to be praying more, you need to be spending more time with God more......etc etc - perhaps you are nodding your head and telling yourself this is exactly what I need to be doing. After all isn't this what good Christians do? Right guys to be a good Christian don't we need to be doing stuff?....

Stop! This is exactly the stronghold I want to challenge! I want to tear down the motivation behind this type of thinking; which is a motivation of doing stuff. The motivation of - WORKS. I want to change your thinking, I want to challenge your motivation from being a "Christian Doer" into being a "Christian".....
Let me say that again I want to change you thinking from "Doing" to "Being" The attitude of having to pray, of having to read the Bible, of having to spend more time with God is wrong - NOW don't miss understand me here, I am not saying praying is wrong, I am not saying reading the Bible is wrong, nor am I saying spending time with the Lord is wrong.
What I am saying is the motivation of HAVING to do so, or you MUST do so to be a good Christian is wrong.
King David shows us a very important principle to live by, which is the basis for what I am saying here. Psalm 116:1-2 I love the Lord, for he heard my voice - he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long a I live.

Guys I am talking here about relationship, pure and simply we are Christians because we are in a real relationship with the very real and living God, who is the creator of all that is seen and unseen. It is not just an ordinary relationship we have - it is an extraordinary one.
I want to ask you 4 questions, 4 simple questions, 4 very important questions. I want us to be serious about asking them and answering them, take some time and reflect on them even ask one another these same questions.
1.How do you FEEL when people ignore you?
2.How do you FEEL when people listen to you?
3.How and what do you FEEL about those people from question 1?
4.How and what do you FEEL about those people from question 2?
Guys now be honest now about how and what you feel! I recently asked a group of boys these same questions. Guess what? They answered exactly the same way the congregation of the church I worship at did when I asked them. The answers I got for questions 1&2 were feelings of anger, being hated, sadness, low self esteem, a great dislike, not very good, did not want to listen back etc etc. The answers for questions 2&4 were totally opposite, felt good, liked, loved, confident liked being around those people, respect, love for etc etc.

Getting back to my wife, today I was in a great place of relationship with my wife & she with me. I was listening to her and she to me while we were just sitting together at the kitchen table. Then she got up to go and do something and I can tell you I was disappointed I could have truly stayed in her presence for some time longer.
The revelation I want you guys to get is that we pray out of relationship with God! We read the Bible out of relationship with God! And we spend time with God because we are in a relationship with him.
As I said it before, I am a busy man, my wife does not always listen to me. My kids don't. My employees don't. My clients don't and not even my friends and relatives always listen to me. And neither does my dog - and I must admit it I too am guilty of not always listening back. I love being heard. I want to be heard. I am a typical bloke who likes to be heard and not ignored. I think it is a typical yearning for us as men to be truly heard in the society we live in. God does listen to my every word. He also listens to your every word. He in fact will turn his ear, imagine a father bending down towards his own child, ear turned to hear his whisper and every word - that is what God does to us when we speak to him.

The Apostle John says, "We love God because he first loved us".
Guys I read the Bible because I want to hear what God has to say to me. I pray to God because I want to speak to God. I know he will hear and listen to my every word. I spend time with God because he wants to spend time with me. He will turn his ear to me because he has great interest in what I have to say.
And because he listens to me; in return I want to listen to him. My motivation to pray and to spend time with God and to read his word is out of a state of "Being a Christian" out of the great and real relationship I have with my heavenly father and it has been my hope and prayer and the aim of this article to change and to challenge your motivation to do so as well.

I have to go, I have someone to go and talk to, "Dear can you put the kettle on"I yell out to my wife.

Blessings Craig

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