Thursday Picks ~ 3-2-2017

This is some stuff I found helpful, challenging, interesting, or amusing today that I think may enrich your day as well...

There is power in prayer, but it’s not ours…

Prayer Isn’t MagicJared C. Wilson
prayerPrayer isn’t magic, because we have no power in and of ourselves. Prayer is expressed helplessness. But also, prayer isn’t magic, because God isn’t helpless without our moving him or unleashing him or activating him in some way…

…God doesn’t need you to let him do anything. He isn’t restrained or controlled by you…What saps we are if we think we have the power to “let God” do anything. He’s God. We’re not. Period.

Is prayer powerful? Yes, definitely, but specifically because the One being prayed to is powerful. The one doing the praying is in fact by his praying demonstrating that he has no power in and of himself. That is functionally what prayer is—an expression of helplessness. If we were powerful, we wouldn’t need to pray...

One way to kill your prayer life is to overthink it. The best friendships you and I have are with people we feel we can be ourselves with. We feel most easily “at home” with the friends we don’t feel self-conscious around. This doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t plan your prayers or schedule time for prayer. It just means that the most vibrant prayer life is found in the one who is most willing to bring his whole self to God, willing to be himself before God, for better or worse.

I have many friends in India, Christian brothers and sisters whom I think about often. It saddens me to see this. India has been moving toward Hindu nationalism. Please pray with me that it remains open to Christianity, and that the Christians there continue serving Christ boldly…

Compassion: Why We’re Leaving India, But Still Have HopeSarah Eekhoff Zylstra two weeks, Compassion International will be out of India.

The child development ministry confirmed today that after 48 years, its final day of operation will be March 15.

That means shutting the doors of 589 Indian-staffed development centers caring for more than 145,000 children, more than any other of the 25 countries where it works

…Compassion has worked every angle to try to stay open in India since last February, when India’s Ministry of Home Affairs put it on a list of organizations needing prior approval before transferring funds into the country. Then the government refused to grant such approval.

The government’s move can be traced back to 2011, when it changed its Foreign Contribution Regulation Act so that it could regulate NGOs it disagrees with philosophically, Mellado said. The move was seen by many as another step toward Hindu nationalism since 2014.

Since then, attacks on Christians and Muslims have increased. India is now No. 15 on Open Doors’ list of countries where it’s hardest to be a Christian, up from No. 31 in 2013.

This is an older article that I just came across. Still filled with good and challenging insights…

How The Church Today is Getting Discipleship Wrong
Carey Nieuwhof
I agree that often Christians in the West are immature. I agree our walk doesn’t always match our talk.

But I also think the average North American Christian is about 3000 bible verses overweight.

The way many leaders approach maturity is to assume that knowledge produces maturity. Since when?

It’s wonderful that people understand what they believe, but knowledge in and of itself is not a hallmark of Christian maturity. As Paul says, knowledge puffs up. Love, by contrast, builds up. And some of the most biblically literate people in Jesus day got by-passed as disciples…

Here are seven things I believe are true about biblical discipleship church leaders today should reclaim…

Yes. Me too!

The Older I Get, the More Compelling This Argument for the Existence of God BecomesJustin Taylor
Philosophers Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli list 20 arguments for the existence of God in their Handbook of Christian Apologetics (IVP, 1994).

When I first read “The Argument from Aesthetic Experience,” I thought it was clever but not compelling.

But the more I have thought about it, the more profound and convincing I have found it to be:

There is the music of Johann Sebastian Bach.

Therefore there must be a God.

They add:

You either see this one or you don’t.

Why learn cursive?

Luke 9:57-62

The idea of these little devotionals is simple. I want to approach scripture with the understanding that God is speaking. I’m reading through the Bible and listening for God to ask me questions. I expect these questions to be fairly open-ended and plan to carry them in my mind throughout the day. I’ll share these questions with you in the hope that you find them challenging and helpful.

Luke 9:57-62
57 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 59 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 And Jesus[a] said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

From this passage I hear God asking me:
How would you fill in these blanks?
“I’ll follow you wherever you go, as long as__________________.”
“I’ll follow you completely, as soon as__________________________.”
“I surrender all, except___________________________.”
“Use me however you wish, Lord, other than_____________.”
Can you make any of those statements without the qualifier?
What are you holding back?
Who is really in charge of you?
Are you “fit for the kingdom of God”?

Is God asking you anything more, or anything different? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.