Jim Shrimplin

We Praise What We Prize

Today, I am reading, “Praying The Bible” by Donald S. Whitney.  It is a good, easy read, but there was a sentence that started me thinking and led to this blog post.  Here is what Whitney wrote, “It is as though God said to his people, ‘I want you to praise me, but you don’t know how to praise me, I want you to praise me no because I’m an egomaniac but because you will praise that which you prize the most, and there is nothing of greater worth to you than I.” (pg. 45; emphasis mine)

There are two ways that you can use this quote.  One way, we could use it to determine what we prize.  Think about what you praise.  Football team, a person you don’t know, your new fast computer, your faster newer car, and the list could go on.  The other way to use this quote would be to determine what you need to praise.  Take a minute and think about, make a list of “What do I  prize?”  Maybe it’s your spouse? Your son? Your daughter?  Some other special relationships?  Your church?  Your job?  What do you prize?

Let’s go back for a minute to what you praise.  Does what you praise deserve the level of praise you give it?  Is it truly one our your most prized things in your life?  Is what you praise on the list you made of what your prize?  If you look at your praise list and there are things on it that should not get the amount of praise you give it, good; now you know what you need to de-emphasis and what you really need to praise.

The same is true with your prize list.  That you prize are you praising or praising God that prize is in your life.  For example, when you look at your prize list and read, “Your spouse” ask yourself, “Do I really praise my spouse as I should?”  “Do I praise God for the church that He allows me to belong too?”  What do I prize?  Am I praising God for it?  Let me add something here.  If you prize a person in your life, I would encourage you to do two things.  First, praise God for that person.  Tell God why you prize that person and thank God that they are in your life.  Second, don’t stop with praise God for that person, go to that person and praise them as well.  “Hey Jerry, I am so thankful that you are my friend.  You have been there for me in the good times and the bad.  I really prize (or treasure) our relationship.”

What do you think that will do for Jerry?  Do you think Jerry will prize you more or less?  Do you think Jerry will feel better or worse about herself?  Do you see the benefits that praising someone could bring to that relationship?  A word of caution: don’t praise Jerry if you really don’t prize Jerry.  She will know that you don’t prize your relationship with her.  She will know that you don’t mean what you say and more than likely it will make the relationship worse instead of better.  Now if you really do prize your relationship with Jerry but you haven’t said it lately or haven’t shown it lately, then maybe you say something like “Jerry, I know I don’t express it as I should but I really prize my relationship with you and I am going to try to do better at showing you that you really do matter to me.”

In time, I believe that the goal should be to praise what you prize and prize what your praise.  In other words, we should be working to make our praise list and our prize list to have the same things on it.  Of course, the real question is where is God your lists?  Do you prize Him?  Do you praise Him according to how much you prize Him?

Dear Lord, help you to prize you!  Help us, Lord, to praise you!  Lord we need you in our lives.  I don’t praise you enough or prize you as I should.  Help me Lord to do both.  I want to follow  you with all my heart today and praise you with all that I am.  In Christ, Amen.

Jim Shrimplin

Cross Down

The wind was so bad in Iowa yesterday…How bad was it?  The wind was so bad in Iowa, yesterday, that it blew the cross down.  When I got to the office today I was greeted with the cross in our “front yard”  lying on the ground.  We had wind advisories which brought the possibility of damaging winds.  The winds came.  The winds blew.  The cross fell.  I am glad that is not what happens in our spiritual lives.

In our lives, every day has the potential to have “damaging winds.”  We never know when the phone will ring and bad news will be proclaimed to us.   Your spouse has left you.  The bill collector plans on garnishing your wages.  The police officer on the scene calls.  Your 23-year-old son won’t be home for spring break.  No matter the situation, we have all have times when the winds of life blow.    Life gets so difficult we wonder if we can make it.

If that is where you find yourself today, I want to encourage you.  While the cross in our “front yard” blew over, the cross of Christ will never blowdown.  All the demons of hell and the devil himself tried.  They even thought they had won 2000 years ago. The disciples scattered. The women weeping.  Christ dead!  This is the message of Lent.  That one day we all will return to dust.  We too will die.  But thank God, we know that Easter is coming.

Later today, church members will come and stand the cross back up.  They will dig the foundation a little deeper.  This cross will stand again.  The same thing can happen in your life.  People can come and help stand you back up.  Your foundation can be built on the cross of Christ instead of the shifting sand of life.  You can stand up in the strength and power of God.  You can have Easter resurrection power and you don’t have to wait until Easter.  You can have Christ in your life today!  He can transform your life and set you on the solid rock to stay.

Jim Shrimplin

The Potter’s Wheel

What I know about pottery and making a vessel like one in the picture can all be derived from the picture.  Here is all that I know about spinning pottery.  One, you have to clay.  Two, you have to water.  Three, the potter is in control.  Four, the clay will go around in circles.  Five, the clay has no idea what it will be when it is finished and finally, six, the vessel is nothing without the potter.

I know these are all simple things that anyone can see but let’s talk about how these simple things relate to our lives.  I need to lay some ground rules first.

The first simple thing that I noticed was that the potter needs clay.  This is obvious.  No clay equals no vase.  In the natural, we don’t get these things confused but in the spiritual realm we do it all the time.  Why?  Well, mainly, we forget we are clay.  We want to the be the potter which eludes to point three; the potter is in control.  We want to model things.  We want to make things.  We want people to look at our lives and say, “You really have made something of your life!”  In some ways, I understand the urge to be the molder and maker of our lives.  I mean after all we are created in the image of God and God is a molder and a maker so why not us too.

The second thing that I noticed is that the potter has to have water in order to model the clay.  The Scripture often equates water with the Holy Spirit.  In our potter example, this make sense.  For God, the potter, to form us, the clay, He needs God, the water (Holy Spirit).  When clay is on the potter wheels it can dry out and is not moldable.  As Christians, when we sit on the wheel on life, circumstances can “dry us out” as well.  We need the Holy Spirit in our lives to keep us pliable in the Father’s hands.  It is because of the water the clay can become what the potter intends.

The third point from the picture that I see is that the potter is in control.  Jeremiah 18 tells us just that; the potter control the clays.  “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? Declares the Lord.  Behold, like the cay in the potter’s hands, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.  It at any time I declare concerning a nation or a kingdom, that I will pluck up and break down destroy it, and if that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turns from its evil I will relent of the disaster that I intended to do to it.”

In other words, God is telling Israel, “I have got a plan to destroy you.  But, like the potter can make the vessel anything they want so can I do with you what I want.  I can even change mind and not destroy you.  All you have to do is turn from the evil that you are doing.”  The same is true with you and I.  Without Christ, our destiny is destruction but if we turn from our sin and follow Jesus, God will relent.  He will save you.  He will give the right and privilege to be called a child of God.  The only thing we can do is decide if we are going to be “good clay” or “bad clay.”  Are we going to follow the Lord or not?

Like a spinning top, the potter’s wheel spins at his command.  It will spin until the potter decides that the vessel is finished.  As the clay, with no control, all you can do is go around and around.  Sometimes you wish the wheel would stop.  Some people want the wheel of life to stop so bad that they will make it stop.  Those that stay on the wheel in endure the spinning. The potter sometimes pushes firmly to form a vase.  Other times, the potter takes a tender touch.  Not matter whether the touch is firm or tender without the potter’s hand you will not become a great work of art. Finally, the potter looks at the clay. He declares the work finished.  A beautiful vessel has been completed.

The fifth observation comes to the clay as it spins.  As you endure the firm hand of the potter, you have no idea what you will become.  Will you become a priceless work of art that is on display at a museum?  Or, will become a simple, but beloved coffee cup?

Finally, the masterpiece is finished.  You have been crafted by the greatest master-potter that ever sat at the wheel.  Whether we a beautiful work on display or the common cup, the one thing that we need to remember a masterpiece is not a masterpiece because of the beauty of piece.  The masterpiece is what it is because of the master’s touch.  Without the master’s tender touch, we will remain just a lump of clay.

 

Jim Shrimplin

Speak Through Me

Almost from the moment that I became a Christian, I have wanted God to speak through me.  I love it when God uses me to teach others about the Scriptures, but there is also an annoying side as well.  You say, “Pastor Jim how can there be an annoying side to God speaking through you to teach someone about the Bible?”

This is the annoying side, but also a wonderful side as well.  Yesterday, I was teaching Sunday School and when I teach Sunday School I don’t have a lot of notes.  I just go where the class conversation takes us.   A student asked a question and I give, what I thought was a great answer, but now I can’t even remember the question let alone the answer. Whenever I give an answer that I feel in the moment in a great answer I can tell, it is the Holy Spirit speaking through me.  I know that I could not give that “good” of an answer in my own strength.

So you have probably guessed that the annoying part is forgetting how I answered the question.  The wonderful part is that I know that God spoke through me to give a better answer to a question than I can give on my own.  I know at that moment God’s Word, God’s voice, has not returned to Him void.  His Word spoken through me and has returned to Him.  It has done what He wanted it to accomplish and that’s the wonderful part.  The reason that this is annoying is that when I get home later that day I can’t remember the teaching so that I can reflect on it and develop the thought even more.

Are you sitting there and asking, “How do I get the Holy Spirit to speak through me?”  Here at my 5 tips on allowing the Spirit to speak through you.

 Tip 1: Study.  I know not the tip you wanted to hear but there is a good reason this is the first tip.  What’s the reason?  I’m glad you asked.  People who want God to speak His Word through us need to God’s Word in us.  Don’t have it; can’t give it.  Therefore, spend time in God’s Word through reading Scripture, meditate on God’s Word, memorize passages, and listen to preaching.  I can’t tell you how many verses I have memorized because I have heard them over and over again in different preaching and teaching settings.  So Tip 1: Study.

Tip 2: Be teachable. As I write this blog it is Monday morning and kids all over America are waking up and getting ready to go to school.  Teachers are also getting ready for school and of course, the teachers will teach and the students will hopefully learn.  Now, we don’t just take people who say, “I want to be a teacher” and put them in a classroom.  No, as a society, we require them to be taught.  We ask them to be teachable enough to learn how to become a teacher.  They spend four years or more learning the basics of teaching and the good ones never stop learning.  They have a teachable spirit.

As Christians, we need a teachable spirit and a spirit that is open to the Holy Spirit teaching us.  In John 14:26, John penned these words, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.”.   Notice that the Spirit will teach and we will remember.  These are our first two tips.  We study; we remember.  We are teachable; He can teach us.

Another passage dealing with the Holy Spirit as our teacher is Luke 12:12.” for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say”  I believe that this is God does for me when He speaks through me.  He gives me the words that I need to say in my Sunday school class.  He gives me the words I need when I am preaching.  He gives me the words of life to give to someone else.  I know that this passage is talking about when, as Christians, we are brought before authorities to defend our faith, but I think it can also apply in this situation as well.  After all, what I am doing when I teach the Bible?  I am “defending” the Scriptures.

Tips 3 and 4 go together.  The 3rd tip is to teach, preach, and witness every opportunity you get.  The more you do these activities the more “comfortable” you become.  The more comfortable you become, the more opportunity you will have for the Holy Spirit to speak through you.  Tip 4:  Remain humble.  When you begin to teach, preach, and witness for God and He starts speaking through you, people will come to you say, “Wonderful message. Thanks a lot! I needed that word today.”  At that moment, you need to do all you can to stay humble.  It is easy to let pride take hold and start taking credit for something you didn’t do.

What do you do to stay humble?  Acknowledge that God has spoken through you and give credit to God.  There is no better way that I know of to stay humble than giving the credit to someone else especially when you didn’t do what they are saying you did.  What do I mean by that?  You get through giving the Word of God to someone and they come to congratulate you or thank you on a job well done.  But, you know God is the one that really taught your class he only used you to do it.  Acknowledge that fact.  Say, ” I am glad you enjoyed it but truthfully that was all God. ”   So teach, preach and witness but stay humble.

The final tip, tip 5, is to be patient.  The implantation of all these tips into your life will take time; you need to be patient.  Great Bible teachers and preachers have spent a great time with God’s Word. The average English Bible has over 700,000 words in it.  You are not going to learn all there is to know about all those words in a weekend Bible study or a 4 year Bible degree.  In fact, you will never get to know all that the Bible has to say because God is infinite and so is His Word.

So if you want God to speak through you, study the Word, be teachable, teach/preach when possible, stay humble and be patient.

Jim Shrimplin

Why Do We Pray?

There is nothing that can affect your life more than prayer.  But, why do we pray?  Do we pray to get things from God?  Do we pray to have our bodies healed?  Do pray to get rid of stress and anxiety?  Why do we pray?

I have listened to and read a lot of stuff about following God over the last 25 years.  In the last couple of months, I have started to wonder if, as Christians, are we doing prayer correctly?  I don’t mean are we praying correctly.  What we I am asking is do we seek the correct things is prayer?

While there is nothing wrong praying for sick loved one, in fact, we should pray that prayer.  Is praying for someone’s healing the overarching goal of a lifetime of prayer?  Is getting the bigger house the goal?  Is getting the new job the goal?  What is the goal of prayer?

When you realize the ultimate goal of prayer, it will revolutionize your walk with Christ.  Here it comes.  Are you ready?  The ultimate goal of prayer is not getting more stuff but getting to know God.  You don’t get up early and pray so that God will give you a new car.  You don’t get up early for God to get you a new…whatever it is you want.  No.  The point of prayer is to get to know God better.

We all have that one person that we would love to meet.  Maybe you have already meet them.  You stood in a line for 3 hours to get their autograph and tell them how much you love what they do.  They said, “Thanks.”  You said can I get a picture with you.  Next thing you know all your friends are liking your post.   You did everything in your power to get close to that person for just a few minutes. Now what?

Let me ask you something.  When was the last time we spent three hours waiting for the Lord in prayer?  I know I haven’t in the last year or maybe even 5 years.  Yet we will wait on our “earthly lord” for three hours to get to talk to them and get their autographs.  If we really believe that getting to know Jesus is the most important thing in our lives, how come we spend so little time on it?

Please don’t think that I am throwing stones at you.  I am not.  I throwing stones at myself and you get to watch.  You get to wonder “Am I next?”  Is God going to discipline me like this?  I hope He does because getting to know Christ is the most important thing we do in a day.

 

Jim Shrimplin

Two Day Rule

 

Jocko Willink, ex-Navy Seal, preaches a topic that I need to hear. It is not a passage of Scripture but it is a principle that is Bible friendly. What is this principle that I speak of? It is this, “Disciple = Freedom.” I don’t know about you but I need to realize how this principle could affect my Christian live. Here is how it works.

Take a minute and name that one thing that you have difficultly with in life. You got it? Let’s say money is your difficulty. Your week and your money never end at the same time. Your money always runs out first. You have a big salary so that’s not the problem. This is the problem. You have no discipline and therefore you have no financial freedom. The big paycheck caused you to go out and get a big house, more house than you needed. You thought to yourself, I make enough I can buy anything I want. Now you have everything you wanted but every credit card is maxed out. Your bank account sits empty while you have more junk in your basement than you know what to do with.

The principle is simple, but you will find the execution hard. If you want financial freedom you have to exercise financial discipline. You want freedom to run a marathon? You have to put in the discipline of running everyday. You want freedom in Christ? You have to have the discipline to pray, read your Bible, do good things for others, and all other things that will draw you closer to Jesus.

So what does Freedom = Discipline and the Two Day Rule have to do with this blog post. Everything! The Two Day Rule is a form of discipline. This form of discipline says, “I will not miss doing something two days in a row unless I am sick or something happens that I have no control over.”

I am going to impose the Two Day Rule on myself. This is my commitment that I am making to myself. “I will not miss two days of posting to my blog in a row unless I am sick or something happens to me that I have not control over.” That means if I know I am going to be driving all day one day and will miss posting than I write two post the day before or whatever I have to do so that I don’t miss posting.

What do you need to apply the principle of Discipline = Freedom mantra too? What in your life needs the Two Day Rule? I want to encourage you to do it. You need to pray more because your life is out of control? Apply the Two Day Rule. I will not neglect prayer for more than one day and ever two days in a row.” Want the Freedom to use the Bible when you witness to people? Apple the Discipline = Freedom principle. I will be free to use the Bible in my witnessing because I will read my Bible everyday. I will not miss more than one day and never two days in a row.

Pastor Jim do you do this perfectly? Nope. But with God’s help I am going to get better. I am going to use these two great principles to get closer to the Lord and help you as well by blogging more. Talk to you tomorrow.