I want to say something here that may confuse some and offend others. We live in a very self-centered culture. One of the marks of our culture, according to Charles Colson, is that we pass all of our decisions through basically two grids—two funnels if you will: personal success and personal pleasure. In other words, in our society today, behind each decision, one of these two criteria has to be met.
I want to talk about the funnel of personal pleasure and its impact on the lives of Christians. This funnel has influenced many of our spiritual activities. I see the quality of some Christians’ prayer lives to be in direct proportion to the amount of vivid personal pleasure they expect prayer to provide.
Someone speaks on the powerful experience he or she is finding in his or her prayer life, and some of the hearers think, “I want to experience that too!” What is often occurring is these Christians are passing data through the funnel of vivid personal experience.
Careful. That motive for prayer easily morphs into self-centeredness. I know, because I have tried it.
We cannot sustain Christ-like prayer lives with self-centered motives. The motive for prayer is rooted in relationship with God. I wonder how many people fall in love with prayer more than they do with God.
Just to clarify, I am not saying that it is wrong to desire to tap into the power of God, nor is it wrong to desire a profound spiritual experience through prayer. However, if these are our dominant motives, we are ultimately going to experience pain and heartache. Our prayer lives will suffer; our spiritual lives will suffer.
Five Things I Think I Think (with a nod to Peter King for this idea)
1. Today I am blessed to be in Searcy Arkansas with my beautiful daughter, Haleigh. The Harding University Lectures are going on this week, too.
2. Great job Case McCoy and David Ash. You two are already serving as marvelous quarterbacks for the UT Longhorns.
3. I must thank the Winnsboro Church of Christ for making me feel so welcome on FAMILY DAY yesterday. This is my old hometown church, and they honored me by inviting me back to serve as their resource speaker. Since it was Family Day, I decided to lay a little Proverbs on us concerning parenting, purity and partnering (marriage.) It was especially neat to see some of the other guests who came in for the day.
4. Texas Rangers—I believe in you.
5. I felt so bad about this error, I felt compelled to put it in my blog in case anybody listens to last Sunday night’s sermon (Sept. 18) on the Internet. The following is actually from the apology I wrote in our church bulletin:
“I am so glad we are saved by grace. I could never live a perfect life. To illustrate, I want to offer an example from last Sunday night.
“I arrived home and I asked Judy about a lingering doubt in my mind from that evening’s sermon. She confirmed my error.
“During my sermon, I mentioned that watching the ten o’clock news could disturb a person’s sleep. My encouragement had been to pass on the late news; it can wait until morning.
“I then ad-libbed that if something important should happen, somebody will let you know. As an example, “If someone kills Osama, your daughter will awaken you and tell you.” This is exactly what my daughter, Haleigh, did last spring—she awakened me to tell me that Navy seals had killed Osama Bin Laden.
“Unfortunately, my mental gears were out of whack, and I substituted a “b” for the letter “s.” I’m sure I sounded flippant and even disrespectful as referenced our president, instead of Osama. I apologize, and I want those present to know that I would never intentionally show any disrespect to anyone who is serving as our president.”
My mistake was an honest one, but it was still a mistake.