Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Secret to Knowing God

Bayless Conley
source: CrossWalk

How to walk in deeper intimacy with your Creator

Deep down, I truly believe every Christian wants to experience a deeply personal and intimate relationship with God. And I also believe each and every believer in Christ can have this kind of relationship with their Creator.

But there is often a problem in how we approach God. We often go to Him looking for rewards… or we're constantly asking Him for things. Now, I'm not saying that we shouldn't go to God with our cares and burdens. In fact, He tells us in  1 Peter 5:7 to tell Him about our concerns because He cares so much for us. 

But if you want to know God… I mean, really know Him… there is another prayer He wants to hear from you. It's a prayer like the one we hear Moses pray in  Exodus 33:13

In my mind, this is one of the greatest prayers in all of Scripture:

"Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight."

Moses didn't just say, "Come with us, God" but he said, "Show me Your way because, God, I want to know You." And then Moses added to it in  verse 18, when He said, "Please, show me Your glory."

The Hebrew word for "glory" literally means "weight, mass, or substance." So in essence Moses is saying, "God, I want to know what You're made of. I don't just want to know about You. I want to know You. I want to know who You are."

The word that Moses used when he said he wanted to know God is the same word that's used in Genesis 4:1 where it says, "Adam knew Eve his wife." Moses is requesting to have the most personal, intimate relationship with God. He wants to draw close to God.

Friend, prayers like that touch the heart of God because not too many people pray them!


read a story about Abraham Lincoln that took place during the Civil War. A woman actually came to the White House and somehow got in with a plate full of cookies.

When she finally got through to the president, she said, "Mr. President, I don't want anything at all. I was just thinking about you today and the load that you are carrying… and I just thought maybe some cookies would brighten up your day."

Lincoln began to weep and said, "Madam, I see a great many people every day, and they want a great many things from me. But of all the people I've seen since being in office, you are the first one that has ever come not asking something of me but wanting to bring something to me." 

While God delights in answering our prayer, He also desires for us to bring something to Him. But how often do we... do you… come just to bring Him something? 

It's the kind of prayer that says, "God, I want to know You. I just want to hang out. I want to find out who You are. Show me what You are made of."

Friend, I think we can all know God in a personal and intimate way… just like Moses did… the way Paul did… even the way Abraham did. 

Paul cried out in Philippians 3:10, "that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection." And Abraham discovered what God meant when He said in  Genesis 15:1, "I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward."

Life is about knowing God! So let me challenge you today to pray a prayer like this:

God, show me who You are. I'm not coming with a request. I've got a long list, but I'll leave it outside the door for now. God, I'm just coming to You because I want to know You. I just want to make Your heart happy. I want to make You smile. God, show me Your ways.

Doing this will delight the heart of God! And you'll be surprised at some of the things that begin to happen within your life when you pray this prayer. Because I truly believe God is crying out, saying "Oh, that they walk in My ways!" 

He wants you to know Him today!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

4 Types of Friends Every Pastor Needs

Ike Reighard
source : CW

Pastors may be the most well-known, loneliest men on the face of the earth. Friendship is a vital part of New Testament ministry and leadership. Without quality, biblical friendships, we are modeling a flawed Christian lifestyle for our church members. Yet, for many, the difficulties of pastoral friendships outweigh the benefits.


Most pastors find themselves in an unhealthy relationship where their wife is their only friend and counselor. If a pastor continues to project his problems onto his wife, she will grow disillusioned and desperate to leave the ministry. I believe a pastor's wife should be his best friend, but she should not be his only friend.


n my 30 years of ministry, I have learned that every pastor needs at least four types of friends:



The Developer
Your best friend will always be the person who brings out the very best in you. According to Billy Graham, he wouldn't have made it as an evangelist if he had to minister alone. Over 53 years ago, Billy Graham met his staff and best friends: Cliff Barrows, George Beverly Shea, and Grady Wilson. These three men protected him, strengthened him, counseled with their wisdom, and corrected him when he needed it. He is convinced that without these friends he would have burned out within a few years after his first groundbreaking crusade in 1949 ( Just as I Am: The Autobiography of Billy Graham, pp. 125-129).


Developer friends will bring the gift of encouragement to a pastor's life and bring out the very best in him.



The Designer
We tend to think of mentors as a personal, hands-on coach. The Latin and Greek define them more as "advisors" or "wise men." Jesus was a master mentor. He ministered to thousands, trained hundreds, equipped twelve, and had an intimate friendship with three men.


The designer mentors us in our marriage, ministry, child-rearing, civic involvement, business acumen, or any area where we need a model. Designer mentors may live near or far, be acquaintances or strangers, or may even be dead. They "design" our lives through Scripture, books, tapes, articles, or seminars.



The Disturber
We need friends who will shake up our status quo. Disturbers ask us difficult questions, forcing us to take a closer look at motivations and ambitions. Disturbers know when we have retreated into our comfort zones, and they call us out to greater effectiveness. God uses disturbers in our lives to become the object of greater force that breaks inertia and propels us to greater achievement.


A biblical picture of a disturber is in Deuteronomy 32:11. In this passage the mother eagle tears up the soft nest to reveal sharp thorns that bring discomfort to the eaglets. Because of discomfort, the eaglets leave the nest and learn to fly. The mother develops her young by repeatedly pushing them out of the nest and catching them until they become skilled flyers. Eagles were never meant to stay in the nest and neither were we. The disturber pushes us to learn to fly.



The Discerner
In a lifetime of relationships, perhaps only a handful of people are willing to play this vital role because it requires mutual vulnerability. More popularly known as accountability partners, discerners bring the gift of spiritual insight into our lives. They know how to speak the truth in love. They know how to exhort and rebuke, seeking to keep their friend on the right track. They are also vulnerable—the true friends who will walk into the room of your life while everyone else is walking out.


Proverbs 27:6 reads, "The wounds of a friend are trustworthy, but the kisses of an enemy are excessive." Always be slow in choosing your discerners and even slower in leaving them.


If you are a typical pastor without close friendships, I urge you to seek them out. They may keep you in ministry for the long haul, and your wife will thank you.


Ike Reighard is the Founding Pastor of NorthStar Church in Kennesaw, Georgia . Adapted by Craig Webb from a previously published article.

© 2001-2007, LifeWay Christian Resources. Repurposed from the Praying Pastor Blog of the National Pastors' Prayer Network.