Pray "In the Spirit"

Praying "in the Spirit" is mentioned 3 times in scripture. It's not about the style of our prayers but rather, the means of our prayers. To pray "in the Spirit" is the intention to open the sails of our soul to hear from God and be fully lead by him. 

The Holy Spirit is not as mysterious or spooky as many believe. God's Spirit is an essential person of the Trinity and to neglect is dangerous. But the Spirit's work is both practical and tangible. Helping in "our weakness", "leading us into all truth", and giving us the "power" to live radiantly.

The need we have is simple but the fix is not easy and the war is raging – we must be still and quiet enough to hear the Spirit and not ourselves. As Watchman Nee taught so beautifully, "our outer man must be broken so that the Spirit can be released". Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit so we must invite God to break our outer man (our humanness) so the Spirit can take full control of our lives, direction, decisions, and conversations. Prayers can be prayed and life can be lived "in the Spirit"! In quietness, power is born anew. We surrender control, see our messes and our misses, confess our need, submit our will, and allow him to shape our spirit into a sail for the Holy Spirit – pray "in the Spirit". 

Keep spreading the word about a new church, 180 Chicago, on the near west side. We're already seeing God do some amazing transforming work at a heart level. Join us this weekend. Find all the info you need to know at this link.

Blessings,

Karl

We're Designed to Consume...Jesus!

We can't apologize for being a consumer, but we need to focus on consuming the life of Christ. If we take Jesus' metaphor of Christians being a branch, we find that Jesus provides all the juice we need to produce the fruit of abundant life. (see John 15)

Discipleship requires resisting the marketing of a worldview that finds satisfaction apart from God and embracing God's view that the greatest satisfaction is consuming the life of God. This is simply done by loving, listening, obeying, and savoring the teaching of Jesus. 

Many Christians have ceased to consume the life of God in Christ and have opted for meaning and satisfaction in an empty promise of material consumerism. Material things in the hands of a disconnected branch are powerless, but in the hands of a disciple of Christ they become tools of grace – giving us and those around us JOY.

Check out this powerful clip that tackles consumerism of our day...

Zig Zag

Proverbs 19:21
Many are the plans in the mind of a man,
but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand. 

God has a way of changing things up. When we think we're about to zig...God will often say "It's time to zag". We can be prayed up and walking with God and yet the plans in our mind can be thrown a curve ball, or even a sharp turn.

There are a few things we need to know:

1. God loves us enough to not show us the full picture. Often God will set us on a path knowing that we might not even take the trip if we knew all that was coming our way. It could be tangled, tough and even more rewarding than we first imagined. Set out anyhow. God's purposes stand the test of time.

2. Zigs and zags are all a part of God's plan to keep us walking in utter dependence. It doesn't mean we missed his calling or direction, it just means that how we get there is a little different than we imagined. Every zig and every zag is just another way for God to keep us in conversation with him and on our knees.

3. It's the journey with our friend (God) that is as important as the prize or destination. We can't be so concerned about the moves we're making that we forget who we're traveling with. Psalm 23 was written for the living, not the dying. No matter how many twists, turns or dips our path takes, we're taking them with God. The journey matters because God is with us.

Whatever your path today listen to the Lord. Stay sensitive to the Spirit as he shuts one door and opens another. After every zig and zag we will look back and be able to say "I'm standing with God". Our plans may need to shift but that's how we find strength in the storms of life.

Prayer: Essential Conversation With God

God can do in us what we can never do alone! But we can't live another day measuring our lives against sub-standard comparisons. We must stop setting goals that are attainable by human effort because when we hit them they ring hollow. We can no longer undershoot God's promises, undervalue our worth, and underestimated our resources. The only way forward is conversation with God. Prayer is conversation with the one who can take us beyond our whims and our wants.

If you suspect you're leaving too much potential on the table, prayer is for you. If you're tired of rationalizing your mediocrity, prayer is for you. If you're stuck and can't seem to get going, prayer is for you. If you feel like life has passed you by but are willing to give it another shot, prayer is for you. If you know there's more inside you but can't seem to dig it out, prayer is for you. If you've been pounded and left for dead by a barrage of condemnation, prayer is for you. If you've tasted the richer life in Christ but slowly turned away, prayer is for you. If you're ready to chase a dream God gave you, prayer is for you. If you are tired of blaming circumstances and are ready to take personal responsibility, prayer is for you. If you've been trying everything in your power and can't make life work, prayer is for you. If you desire sustained victory, prayer is for you.

The God who holds the universe in his hands is waiting to talk with you...let us pray!

 

Discover Focus

There's no vision for our life that is greater than God's vision. So never settle for aimlessness or even busyness for that matter. Our life can count for something dynamic. Our gifting can be tapped into in ways like we've never imagined. Our legacy can be as rich as our God is great. Our soul can be saturated by a peace that transcends understanding. And all of this can be our new reality, even as we walk through tough personal trials. Yes, our desire to breath, taste, and experience abundant life is even more than the American dream. So we better not settle for anything less than God's best. 

But God's best is often missed by substituting one big problem for another even larger one. Many of us struggle with seasons of aimlessness. Wondering where to focus our life and what to drill down on in life is a common point of discussion. Myriad books are written on finding our sweet spot and staying in it. But without God speaking into the equation we trade aimlessness for busyness. And that's trading down. When lacking clear direction we must resist getting busy. Our greatest need when a sense of aimlessness strikes our soul is to seek the God who gave us our unique design. 

God's plan for aimlessness is not to get a degree in vision. Look at how change really happens.

"Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law." 

If we carve out consistent time and in this time pour over the word of God, we WILL receive a joy-filled vision for our lives. There is one other element to put in the mix. Always have a trusted mentor to check your work. Find that person who loves us enough to not be a "yes person" but who will always point us us back to the truth of who God is and who we are in him. 

So trade in aimlessness for the revealed plan God has for your life. Don't get busy. Take the necessary time to dig into the word of God and watch what will happen. The greatest personal discoveries come through self-discovery. 

Proverbs 29:18

God loves clarity and hates your confusion...

God loves clarity. There may be times when we're in a God ordained fog bank, but that's the exception and never the usual. Scattered thoughts can happen but God never intended for us to live disoriented. God wants to clear up the confusion. Disorder and confusion are like cousins, and at the root of it all is something that's tough to talk about, but vital that we stop to consider.

The simplest way to capture the problem with confusion is to see it as the result of pressing. Pressing is what we do when we want something but are unwilling to wait on God and slow the timing to match God's timing. The clearest passage on confusion, or pressing, is James 3:16. "For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice." When our "want" button is getting hit more than our listen button, we're destined for confusion. Jealousy and selfish ambition are ways we press, and when we press we experience "disorder" and "every evil practice" - confusion sets in and chaos can follow. 

Confusion is on a continuum. It can range from slight to extreme but if left unresolved it almost always digresses into deeper shades of grey. The solution is rather simple but requires some discipline. The pressing has to stop. When we feel like confusion is setting in or already grabbed us by the throat, we need to stop and surrender the "wants" - stop pressing. 

Do a "180 Now". Whatever level of confusion you may be feeling, stop to consider and let God search out any pressing toward a want in your life. Moving boldly with God is great but pressing into the darkness when we have no illumination or direction from God, gets us lost and confused every time. You can do this. Stop in the confusion and backtrack to a place of peace and listening to God. When pressing and confused, don't press harder, reach out to God and slide to the side of the road without slipping off the path. Let all wants go and watch bring clarity and order back into your life once again. God loves us more than to put us on a treadmill of tangled confusion. Stop and let God clear up all the confusion.

James 3:16