C.S. Lewis said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world”

When things are going well, He often speaks in a whisper and we have to listen closely.  How do you know if it is God speaking to your conscience or if it is bad pizza from the night before?  I won’t tell you that it is always easy, but I’ll give a few guidelines that I believe will help you distinguish between the two.

Before you begin seeking God’s will, make sure your heart is in a position to do WHATEVER God says.  It’s important to decide that before asking God for His will.

Next, ask yourself if one of the options or possibilities are in disagreement with the Bible’s teachings.  (This assumes that you have to be reading the Bible and learning so you can know it’s teachings.)

For example, if you see three options and one of them calls on a little white lie, go ahead and mark that one off.  It is NOT God’s will even if it is the easy option or most attractive to you.

If you still have two options and you aren’t feeling God’s leading strongly towards one of them, remember that God also speaks through the “Church.”  (The “Church” is the people, not a building.)

Don’t ask everyone you know for their opinion.  Go to a few trustworthy, wise, godly people that care about you and explain the situation.  God can sometimes make things a bit clearer by talking to other people that love Him and you.

You can also look at the circumstances.  Once again, you have to interpret the circumstances through the Bible.  It’s not always a “given” that you take the most attractive option that presents itself.

If the options are:

  1. Take a high paying job.
  2. Keep the job that you have.

God may want you to stay at your present job to reach someone.  That’s where listening to God is more important than a knee jerk decision to the most attractive option that seems to present itself.

If you have sincerely prayed, “God, I’ll do WHATEVER You ask me to do” and you have really sought His will through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the Church, and you don’t feel like He is saying “wait,” then make the best decision that you can.

I really believe if you “delight yourself in the Lord, that He will give you the desires of your heart.”  After going through all of these steps with a sincere heart, make a choice and don’t look back.

 

When we want to know God’s will and the next step for our lives, the first step is simply to begin asking Him to reveal it to you.

One of the challenges most believers have is that they actually already know what that next step, they just choose to ignore it.  For example, maybe they are asking, “God, should I take this job or should I stay here at this company?”

The reality is that many only want to hear from God on their terms and not on God’s terms.

What they see as important in their life is not what God sees as important.  Perhaps God has already told them that they need to deal with they way they talk to their kids and they have ignored that.  Maybe God wants them to forgive or He wants them to be a better employee.

God is more interested in a person taking the last step that He told them to take than He is revealing what you demand to know.

Don’t ask God to lead you in your next step without first telling Him AND MEANING IT, that you’re willing to do WHATEVER that step is.

Then, if He reveals something to you that you need to do, then do it!  THEN you can ask for the next step.

We might think we really want to know God’s will for our life but unless we’re willing to do WHATEVER He tells us, we’re just playing at this Jesus following thing.  It doesn’t appear to be something we’re that serious about.  We need to make Him Lord, which means our life is really His.

Shut Up and Listen!

December 21, 2012

Most Christ followers would say that their prayer life is not what they feel like it should be.  While saying this, they have in mind that they aren’t TALKING to God enough.

Jesus had a specific time in the morning while it was still dark when He went by himself to a quiet place to pray.  We probably picture Jesus pouring out His heart to God as He prayed.  I think that is one thing that He did during this time, but I also believe He was simply quiet during this time too.

Have you ever been in a relationship where the other person did all the talking and you couldn’t get a word in anywhere?  Maybe they didn’t seem to care about what you had to say?  You just want to staple their lips together!

If you’re in a relationship with God, He isn’t only interested in hearing the shopping list of the things that you want Him to do.  He wants time to speak too.  Most Christ followers say they want to hear from Him but won’t be still and shut their own mouth long enough for Him to say anything.

Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.”  Other versions says, “Cease striving and know that I am God.”

Sometimes we need to sit and listen!

How does God speak?  Henry Blackaby teaches that God speaks to us mainly in 4 ways.  He speaks through the Bible, through prayer, circumstances, and through the church.

Let’s look at the first way that I mentioned.  God speaks to us through the Bible.  For example, if you are a Christ follower and haven’t been baptized, you don’t need to ask Him if you should be baptized.  He’s already told you to do that in the Bible!  Just DO IT!

If you are holding a grudge against family member or an old business associate, you need to forgive them!  The only prayer that you need to pray regarding forgiving is perhaps for the strength to follow through on forgiving them.  Don’t even ask if you should forgive them.  (That’s another subject, but if you’re interested further in forgiveness, try:  https://eddiepoole.wordpress.com/2012/04/19/she-cant-forgive-him/)

Sometimes God only gives us one step at a time.  If He’s revealed to us that we need to spend more time with Him and we haven’t done that, he may not tell us anything more until we do the last thing that He’s told us to do.

Pray about your next step with God, shut up, and LISTEN.   When he reveals that step, TAKE THE STEP.  THEN ask for the next one.  

With Chloe and Greta’s wreck fresh on my mind, I’ve been thinking A LOT about second chances.  I’m reminded of another person that was very close to me that God granted a second chance.

When I was young, my grandfather was always supportive of what I did.  Whether I was playing football in little league or playing music, he was there.  He always wanted me to know that he was for me.

One area that he was “for me” was when I went to church.  He didn’t go, but he encouraged me to go.  He was proud that “I” went to church.

I was in college taking exams when I got the call.  My sister told me that I needed to get to the hospital quick because “Gramps” was not doing well.  When I got there I found out that he had an aneurism.

The doctor was VERY comforting.  (Slight Exaggeration.)  He said, “Well, it would have been better if he had been run over by a Mac truck.  He won’t live through surgery but I’ll give it a shot anyway.”  (Cheer me up, Doc.  Thanks for the comfort.)

Many of us prayed…  A LOT.  I remember telling my mother that God had told me that Gramps would be ok.  He did survive the surgery.  When the doc came out of surgery to talk to us, his bedside manner hadn’t improved.  He said, “He survived the surgery but he won’t live past tomorrow.”

That’s how we lived for about two weeks.

This was the pattern:  Complications, Prayers, Miracles.

While Gramps was in ICU, I would go in and pray silently for him.  He was hooked up with all kinds of machines and tubes.  He didn’t know what was going on, but I laid hands on him and prayed anyway.  The doctor kept giving bad news, but God kept answering with good news.

Finally, the day came.  He improved quickly all at once.  The doctors moved him to a room and I couldn’t wait to go and see Gramps, one of my biggest cheerleaders in life.

When I walked in, he teared up.  I had never seen him cry before.  This is what he told me.  Gramps said, “Son, I want you to know that I know why I’m here today.  I should be dead.  I know for my whole life, I haven’t been what God wanted me to be.  For now on, there won’t be anymore ‘HALF ASS’ Christianity for me.”

I still have to laugh about his choice of words but I’ll ALWAYS remember the heart that said them. 

God gave my Gramps another 10 years. After that and he was a different man.  He talked about Jesus so much that people started to think he was crazy.  You couldn’t go into his house without him talking about Jesus and what He had done for him.  Many would just roll their eyes when he got going but I knew that he was a man that was passionately in love with Jesus.

Gramps got a second chance and he didn’t waste it.  I remember at his funeral saying that many thought he was crazy but I would be taking up where he left off in talking about Jesus.  I hope my life has reflected God the way my grandfather’s last chapter did.

Your second chance may not be as dramatic as Chloe’s or my Gramps.  Your second chance may just be reading this blog.

God’s word says that He hates it when we’re lukewarm.  It makes God sick.

God is either Lord of all or He isn’t Lord at all.

God wants us all to be passionate for Him.  He wants us to be relentless in our pursuit of Him.

Don’t live the Christian life in a half way manner.  Give it all or give it up.  There isn’t any  acceptable in-between with God.  It’s all or nothing.

Emmanuel, In Chloe’s Words

December 10, 2012

If you read my last blog post, you know that my son’s girlfriend Chloe and her sister, Greta, were in bad auto accident yesterday after church.

We were at the hospital until late last night and this morning I used my “Pastor Card” to get in to see her.  As I talked with Chloe this morning in ICU, I told her that all through the ordeal I was reminded of Craig Groeschel’s message yesterday.  It was about God’s “omnipresence”, or as a child would say, “God is with ME.”  Chloe said that she was also reminded of the message and took comfort from it through the whole ordeal.  (She is still in the ordeal as she had surgery last night and has at least two more this week.)

I thought about “Emmanuel” as I was praying in the car with Marla and Matthew at the accident scene.  Greta had talked to Matthew.  We didn’t know if Chloe was ok or not.  All we could see was emergency vehicles and lights.  The car was behind them.

We prayed desperately and thanked God that we knew that even though we couldn’t see what was going on behind all of the emergency lights and vehicles, we knew that God was with Chloe and Greta.  I also knew that God was with Carl and Jaynie, the girls’ parents.  We asked for God’s comfort on them.  I felt his presence with me.

Chloe’s jaw has multiple fractures but what she said to me this morning, mainly moving her lips, rocked me to the core.   This is what Chloe said:

“When I was still in the car, I was scared.  I had been singing ‘Jesus Loves Me” because that’s all that I knew to do.  Greta was talking to me to keep me calm.

I then heard the paramedics outside of the car talking.  They said to each other that they didn’t know if I was going to make it.  Then I saw Him.  I SAW JESUS.  He was shaking His head ‘YES’ and said ‘You ARE going to make it.’  I knew He was with me.”

I was speechless.  Wow….  “God is WITH US.”  He was there with the girls.  He was with Carl and Jaynie.

He was TALKING to Chloe, giving her hope as she sat in a totally demolished car with so many injuries that the EMT’s thought she wasn’t going to make it.

I asked Chloe for permission to share her story and she said it was ok.

I will never hear the words “Emmanuel-God with us”, in the same way again.

It was too close this time…  Chloe and Greta, my son’s girlfriend and her sister, were involved in a bad auto accident.

Matthew, my son, got the call.  Greta actually called him before the emergency personel arrived.  She was still in the car.  When he called me, Marla and I immediately took off for the accident scene.  When Marla and I arrived at the scene we found Matthew sitting in his car, unable to go any further due to the emergency vehicles stopping him.

As the 3 of us sat there, it was the most helpless feeling that I’ve ever had.  We knew that Greta was ok because she had called.  We didn’t know if Chloe was alive or not.  No one said it, but that’s what we were all thinking and praying… and wondering.

We prayed together and as Chloe was being Lifeflighted, we left for the hospital.

David said in Psalm 39:4:

“Show me, Lord, my life’s end

and the number of my days;

let me know how fleeting my life is.”

I was reminded yesterday of how fleeting life is.  Nothing is guaranteed in this life outside of God.
We really don’t know how long our life is our how long those that we love will be here.  The only thing that really matters is our relationship with God and the only that that will last will be what we do for Him.
You know that you have one day left in your life.  That’s all any of us are guaranteed.
Make it count.

December is officially here!  Here are a few things you should know about this week at MJLife:

LifeKids Caroling at Mt. Juliet Heath Center:  This coming Sunday our LifeKids, families, and anyone else that would like to come will be spreading Christmas cheer to the elderly residents at the Mt . Juliet Health Center.  Immediately after church our kids and those involved will be eating pizza and practicing some Christmas Carols.  We will then venture over to the center, arriving at 1:30.  While we’re there we’ll lead them in carols and deliver some homemade Christmas cards, along with smiles.

Sign up on Sunday morning and let us know if you’ll be eating pizza with us.  We’ll ask for a $3/person donation for the pizza.  ($10 Max/family)

Tonight (Wednesday) at 6:30 our LifeKids will be preparing for Christmas and for Sunday by decorating stockings and practicing some Christmas Carols.  Also, your child is welcome make some Christmas cards at home to bring for Sunday morning.

Will you pray for our  MJLife Christmas Offering on Sunday, December 16th?  This offering is a big deal for our church and I would really appreciate your prayers for it.  Through this offering we plan to help fund our Student Ministry AND pay for a few projects here at our building, such as flooring, signage, etc.

Our  Ladies Christmas Party is this FRIDAY, December 7th. 7:00 at the home of Dana Cutright.  (Tim lives there too, but since this is a LADIES event we’re calling it DANA’s house!)  It is located at 204 East Pearson Ct., Hermitage, TN  Dana’s phone number is 615-474-9170 if you need directions.  This event is a potluck so bring a dish to share!

OTHER DECEMBER DATES TO REMEMBER:

LifeChurch Family Christmas, Sunday night, December 16th, 5:00

Christmas Eve Worship Service, December 24th, 5:00

I love being pastor of MJLife!

Eddie

In my last blog, I said this:

If there is a sin in your life that you constantly ignore, that’s your real god.

We have to keep battling, even when we it seems like we are constantly under attack in our weak area.  Have you ever just felt like God was tired of hearing from you because every time you talk to Him you were confessing the same thing?  It does get old.

1 John tells us that “if we confess our sins, God is faithful and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

If that’s true, why is it SO HARD to keep away from some sins?

Acts 3:19 may give us some insight into why this keeps happening:

“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,”

The first step in turning from recurring sin is to confess and repent, but we often forget the second part of that verse.  It says, TURN TO GOD!

The book of James also confirms that this is the pattern.  James 4:7-8 says:

“So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you.”

The first part is “Resist the Devil.”  Turn from your sin.  Repent.

The second part is to “Come close to God.”  If you simply confess and repent but don’t run as close as you can to God, Satan comes back to tempt you pretty quickly.

My 3 year old, Adam, likes to play “Bear”.  In the game, sometimes my teenager, Daniel, will pretend to be a bear and go after Adam.  Adam will sometimes try to wrestle Daniel by himself.  Adam always looses.  Daniel is 13 and Adam is no match for Daniel.

Other times, Adam will run and stand behind me as his protector.  So far, Daniel is no match for me.  (I know that day is coming because he is growing but I still have the “old dog” bluff on him.)

As long as Adam is hiding behind me, Daniel is held at bay.  Daniel will wait 3 feet away from me waiting for Adam to wander away from me, but he will not attack Adam while Adam is hiding close to me.  I am his protector from the bear.  Daniel the bear will be defeated if he attacks Adam while Adam is close to me.

That’s why it is important to immediately begin praising God, listening to praise music, reading and memorizing verses, and fellowshipping with God.  As long as you are standing in Christ, Satan is no threat.  When we wonder away, we our defenses grow weaker and we’re no match for the evil one.  Satan is waiting just 3 feet away for you to wonder off.  Stay close to the master and the bully will be at bay.

What helps you draw to God?

As a pastor, I’ve talked to MANY people over the years that constantly battle certain sins in their life.  These sins are the ones that, for whatever reason, have latched on and are just hard to shake.

Sins like I’m speaking about include the more “acceptable” sins, such as gossiping or overeating.  If could include ignoring something that the Holy Spirit has been telling you for years, such as your need to forgive someone.  These “pet” sins could also include less “acceptable” secret sins that no one knows about, like pornography or an affair that has gone on for years.

If there is a sin that you continually ignore, that’s your REAL god.

One thing that I read in MANY passages from the Bible is that God is a JEALOUS God.  He doesn’t want ANYTHING to come before Him in a person’s life who claims to follow Him.  While we all mostly agree on that, it sometimes gets easy to categorize our pet sin into a box that only gets taken out when its safe.  When no one is looking, including God (ha!), we think it’s safe to indulge.

One thing that I want to be clear about is that it’s NOT a sin to be tempted.  Everyone is tempted.  Waving the white flag and giving into the sin EVERY TIME it raises it’s ugly head is what we’re talking about here.

2 Corinthians 10:13 tells us that there isn’t any temptation that comes to us that we can’t either stand up under or that God will not help us find a way out.

We have to keep battling until the victory is won.

I’ve known some people that win the battle all at once and don’t seem to be tempted again.  I’ve known others that seem to have to battle almost every day.  Just don’t give up!

When we call Jesus, “Lord,” that means that He is first in our life.  There is a saying that says:

“He is either Lord of all, or he is not Lord at all.”

Lord, by definition, means “master” or first place.  If we continually give into our “pet” sins without even a fight, Jesus has been moved off of the throne.  The “cheese burger” or whatever pet sin that you’ve given up the battle to, is now sitting on the throne.

If we continue to refuse to deal with those “pet” sins, we’re just kidding about that Lord thing.