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Do You Pray All The Time?

Thursday, April 13, 2017 by Ron Carlson

Brother in Christ,

Do you pray all the time?

“Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 NASB)

Over the years 1 Thessaonians 5:17 has been one of the most challenging verses in the Bible. I used to wonder how in the world such a thing was possible. In our busy culture, how can you and I really pray all the time.

Part of the stumbling block for me was having to undo my preconceived notions of what prayer is. Growing up, I witnessed prayer demonstrated in a very formal way. In church, we would join our pastor reading liturgical prayers. At home, we said our traditional mealtime prayers together. At night, we would say the Lord’s Prayer together. These were all wonderful and appreciated demonstrations of prayer to me.As I grew older and developed a more personal prayer life, I also learned about getting alone in a quiet place to talk with God. Again, that was another beneficial aspect of prayer, but like the formal prayers, neither discipline was something I could do without ceasing. Sooner or later I had to get up and get on with my day. So, that still left me wondering how to live out this verse.

“Pray continually.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 NIV)

Over the last several years, the Lord, in His great mercy, has shown me how this verse can be lived out. I call it real-time prayer. What do I mean by that? The Lord is teaching me to talk with Him all the time, in all my everyday endeavors. In other words, to pray without ceasing is to talk with Him about what is happening all the time at that time. It’s anything but formal, but it’s a life changer.

For example, “I’m about to meet this man, Lord. I have a tough time knowing what to say to him. What is going on with him right now? Give me your wisdom on how to relate to him." On the best days, I’m asking the Lord about each decision and encounter.  On my not so good days, I don’t invite Him along at all. It’s a learning process, but what a joy it is to know our God wants to be asked into each moment of each day.

My wife will tell you some of the best prayer revelations she’s ever had have come with her eyes open while she’s driving. In a very real way, God has opened her eyes at times like that, as Lin learns to pray without ceasing.

Our God wants you to talk with Him. Not just formally, not just when you are alone, but He wants you to discover the joy of learning how to….

“Pray all the time.” (1 Thess 5:17  The Message)

It’s one of the great ways our loving God wants to get to know you and have you get to know Him…in real time.

Ron

Do You Have Relationship Expectations?

Thursday, October 19, 2017 by Ron Carlson

A recent issue with someone has made me try to evaluate how some hurt feelings cropped up in our relationship. One of the things the Lord confronted me with is my expectations. I have a certain way I expect to be treated, a certain expectation for how another should respond when I do them a favor or give them something. I expect a thank you, I expect another to speak pleasantly back to me when spoken to, I expect to be respected. When those things don’t happen, I get upset at times and tend to judge the other as someone who doesn’t do things the right way…or more accurately doesn’t do things the way I would do things.

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Are You Generous?

Thursday, October 12, 2017 by Ron Carlson

It’s not easy to be generous when your bottom line has hit rock bottom. My first three jobs after graduating from college didn’t include health insurance benefits. So, when my wife Lin had two children delivered by caesarean section in the first three years of our marriage, we were stuck with some big debt. When all the bills were paid, the checkbook balance showed 11 bucks. That had to last us for the next two weeks. The tempting thought was, it’s foolish to keep tithing. What if the car breaks down or the kids get sick? Still the Lord kept after me not to be swayed by the checkbook balance, but to trust Him and continue giving.

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Are You Too Passionate About Sports?

Thursday, October 5, 2017 by Ron Carlson

I’ve enjoyed sports since I was a boy. But, it’s had too much of an effect on my emotions. Why did I care if a bunch of guys who don’t know me lost a game that really provided no possible benefit to my life? But, I did care. If my favorite team lost, I’d be upset for hours. Still, hoping for my team's success, I listened to games on the radio and watched on TV. I spent time collecting sports cards and reading sports articles. I played college soccer and still play. I coached my kids. I even turned it into a career as a TV sportscaster. Sports has been a dominating factor in my life.

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Did You Know You Are A Person Of Influence?

Thursday, September 28, 2017 by Ron Carlson

You may not realize it or even think about it, but every time you are with someone you are influencing them in some way. 

“It makes such a huge difference when you recognize your mood, your attitude and your emotion is contagious…every time you are meeting (someone) you’re not just exchanging information, you’re literally influencing their mood, their attitude and their emotion and they’re going to come away from you feeling a little bit better about themselves or a little bit depleted.” (Steve Gutzler, President, Leadership Quest)

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Spiritual Mentoring

Wednesday, September 27, 2017 by Cooky Wall

Our community group recently gathered to share a meal and talk about God and our journeys with Him in this thing called “life.” Our leader had us break up into groups of two-three, and passed out cards containing a portion of a picture. We were to describe what we thought we had on our piece. Hopefully, in the end, we would be able to figure out the whole picture. As God would have it, I had a pretty big chunk of a picture on my card so I figured I knew the whole picture. It was interesting to see how everyone’s piece fit into the whole. The exercise was a visual illustration of the community of Christ and how we have a clearer picture of who God is when we are together. We might think we have the whole picture of who God is in Christ, but chances are we do not.

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Who Is In Charge Of Your Schedule?

Thursday, September 21, 2017 by Ron Carlson

You might jokingly say it’s your boss or your spouse, but realistically most of us would probably say we are the ones who ultimately decide what we will do and when we will do it. We like to be in charge. But Jesus challenges us to reconsider that. If we are truly going to follow Him, we have to be willing to let our Lord make some schedule changes.

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Now What?

Wednesday, September 13, 2017 by Matt Bowen

Ok, so you have decided to take a step in a mentoring relationship, now what? 

Maybe you are second guessing this choice. Maybe you are well traveled on the road of walking alongside someone in their journey with Jesus. Either way, the point is that you are not alone. 

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Are You Just Existing?

Thursday, September 7, 2017 by Ron Carlson

Have you ever given your life a tough examination? If so, what have you discovered? There have been seasons of my life where I honestly had to admit that I was just going through the motions, just trying to pass the time, just existing. During those times, I had to pray and ask the Lord to take my situation from merely existing to living.

"For to me, living means living for Christ." (Philippians 1:21)

Pastor Erwin McManus wrote about a time in Beirut where he was asked to fill out an unusual form.

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Do You Measure Success By Your Accomplishments Or Relationships?

Thursday, August 31, 2017 by Ron Carlson

My career as a tv sportscaster existed primarily in a world where accomplishment was king. The ones who received the most praise and attention were those who scored the most touchdowns, had the highest batting average or won the most championships. I wouldn’t have lasted long by filling my sportscasts with stories about the most loving player or a coach with the most lasting relationships. Yet if the apostle Paul had been a sportscaster (that conjures up an interesting image, doesn’t it?), I’m thinking he would have highlighted the athletes who were all stars at building a track record of love.

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Have You Ever Witnessed A Miracle?

Thursday, August 24, 2017 by Ron Carlson

Before Jesus healed the paralytic, who was lowered through the roof by his four friends, he asked an interesting question.

"Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven'; or to say, ‘Get up, and pick up you pallet and walk'?" (Mark 2:9)

It was easier to say the man’s sins were forgiven because no one could really see whether that had occurred, but to prove His words were truthful Jesus also healed the man physically. 

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