Pastoral Prayers – Part 1

God put on the heart of Matt Chandler nine specific prayers for The Village Church. In this series, he unpacks these prayers through passages of Scripture and shares his hopes for the church.

Topic : the-village-church | Scripture: Romans1:21

Transcript | Audio


Nine years ago this June, Lauren and I were at a youth camp in Oklahoma called Camp Wow. I think “Wow” was an acronym for “Walk on Water.” I would speak in the morning, I would speak at night and the middle of the day was just a time for playing around. So Lauren and I were playing sand volleyball with a group from the band. And if you can’t dominate musicians in sports, it’s time to hang ‘em up. So we were actually doing pretty well when all of a sudden Lauren was just like, “I’m tired. I don’t want to play.” So I kind of razzed her a little bit, and she went back to our room and just took a nap. So I came back, and she’s like, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’m super tired.” So I did what a loving husband would do. I made fun of her. I was like, “Do you think it might be wienie-itis? I’ve heard that’s going around. Maybe it’s that.” And for the rest of the week, she didn’t want to play. We would go out on the lake, but she didn’t want to go out on the lake. We would go play some other game, but she didn’t want to play any games. She was going to bed early. We just simply couldn’t figure it out. So I finished speaking Thursday night at about 9:30, and then because we were young and dumb, we had scheduled another deal the next morning in East Texas. So we all finish Thursday night, hop in this nasty green van and drove from Oklahoma to ETBU in East Texas, where I was going to be speaking at my first deal for Super Summer that morning. So Lauren went to her parents’ house in Longview and I went on out with the boys to East Texas Baptist University to get set up and teach the leaders of that camp before that camp started. I came home from ETBU exhausted. I had gotten about two hours of sleep, my eyes were burning and my mouth tasted like bad gas station coffee and sunflower seeds. So I’m coming home to just plop in the bed and try to get a few hours sleep before I have to drive back out to ETBU and preach that night. So I try to climb in bed, and there is a book on the pillow with a ribbon on it. I get closer to it and see a pregnancy test tied to the book Hop on Pop, and it’s showing positive. So I find Lauren, give her a hug and awkwardly hug my father-in-law. That’s just an awkward moment. I’m not going to lie to you. It’s right up there with getting off the plane from your honeymoon. You’re just like, “Don’t smile at dinner. Don’t smile at dinner. Don’t smile at dinner.”

And here’s what happened. Literally, from that instant, I began to have these dreams and hopes for my child. I began to pray for him/her at that time. I knew what I wanted. And I’ve learned very early on, if my kids get married, if they don’t get married, I’m going to leave that up to the Lord. I understand that my job is to point them towards Jesus Christ, to try to live as well as I can under the grace of God without hypocrisy and to apologize when I fall short. No one told me I’d be apologizing as much as I am. That’s not in any book I ever read. “Oh by the way, you’re going to say ‘sorry’ a lot.” I want to model the gospel in front of my children, so I do want to come in and go, “Daddy really blew it. . .Daddy lacked grace there. . .He reacted there. . .” I want to own that in front of my kids so they can watch the gospel roll out in front of them. I fall short. “Daddy needs Jesus just as much as you need Jesus.” But I had these hopes, dreams and prayers for her. Every time we would go to the doctor, every time we would go look at a sonogram, I would find the heat underneath those prayers really driving me to pray more, to hope more, to dream more of what God could do in and through this life He was about to entrust me with. I was anxious and nervous. It’s one thing to mess yourself up, but if you mess someone else up, that makes me nervous. So I prayed quite a bit and sought the Lord quite a bit.

And after the birth, after Audrey was born, those prayers didn’t do anything but intensify. They intensified in one of two directions. And by the way, the hopes I have for her are not tied to anything material, athletic or intellectual. I want her love the Lord with all her heart, all her mind and all her soul and be fully surrendered to Him. And I’ll take that as a greater treasure than a husband who has diamonds fall out of his pockets and she has everything she wants material and he loves her well and romances her well. I’ll take her loving the Lord with a reckless abandonment. So when I began

to watch as she was born, those days where she seemed not interested in that, it made me really press into the Lord and pray. And then when she has those days where it looks like the light has come on and she does want to celebrate in the Lord, she does want to press into the Lord and she does want to make much of the Lord, then I rejoice, but even then I’m nervous. Call me a skeptic. I’m rejoicing, but even then I’m asking the Holy Spirit to continue to mature her while simultaneously sustaining the maturity that she has received. Because I’ve seen reversion. I’ve seen people get all geeked up about Jesus and then two years later be nowhere near that. So I want the Holy Spirit sustain that, but I don’t ever want to be satisfied with what He’s done. I want more. And as God has graciously granted us more children, as I watch their lives, as I watch my son, as I watch my little one, I find myself praying constantly for them. And it’s kind of the same prayers over and over again or some variation of the same prayers over and over again.

Now this December will be my ninth year here as pastor of the Village Church. Now that’s hard for me to get my mind around. Now I know because I can watch my daughter. She was born just a couple months after we got here, so she’s this living, walking measuring stick of how long we’ve been here. But here’s one of the things I’ve started picking up on. There was this similar thing occurring in my heart and mind about you and this place as was occurring in my heart and mind about my daughter, my son and now my other daughter. What I began to notice as God led me here, as I began

to pastor, I felt some of those same things. Like I had these dreams about what we could do, what I wanted to see take root or what I wanted to see God accomplish. And to this day, they never had anything to do with numeric growth in the sense of what we’ve experienced. Now do I want to see people get saved? Yes and amen. But at that point in my life, what I wanted to see was maturity. I’ve been speaking to large crowds for a long, long time. I had honestly began to believe that speaking to a large crowd was actually the enemy of maturity. Now I don’t believe that way, but it’s what I had seen up until that point. So at the end of that first year, I began to notice the same thing I was mentioning with Audrey. I’m praying the same things over and over again, just in some variation of that prayer. So that actually became a document we produced called the Nine Pastoral Prayers. So my hope for the next couple of weeks, I thought it would be a good idea to go back over some of those. Before we got busy with Summer, I want us to stop and take stock in the foundational prayers of the Village Church. So I’m going to go over four of them tonight, and then we’ll do the other five here soon.

The first prayer simply says this. “That we would see that the greatest problem in the universe is not mere moral failure – but a failure to honor God.” The greatest problem in the universe is not moral failure. It is not moral in its essence, but rather the greatest problem in the universe, when it comes to mankind, is that we fail to honor God. Let me show you what that looks like out of Romans 1. Starting in verse 21, “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” Now just go down to verse 28. “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.” So here the Bible is telling you what has gone wrong with mankind. Now everybody knows something has gone wrong with us. Even secular agnostics and atheists will go, “Here’s what’s gone wrong with humanity.” The irony is sometimes they point to religion as the problem. It sounds very religious and dogmatic when they do it actually. So everybody has this opinion, even Oprah Winfrey. She has a whole network built out to help us understand what’s gone wrong with the human condition. Now the Bible is going to say all those guesses about what’s gone wrong are symptoms of the disease and not the disease itself. The disease itself is actually a failure to honor God.

Romans 1 breaks that down in three ways. We fail to honor God by choosing His creation over Him. We fail to honor God by believing a lie over the truth. The lie is, “I’m smarter than God. I know better than God. I can handle this better than

the way God wants me to handle it.” And then the third way in verse 28 is that we have failed to acknowledge Him, which means we want to own things that aren’t ours. We don’t want to give glory to God where God’s glory is due. If you’re watching the NBA playoffs, you’ll see this a hundred times. Watch a guy who is 6’10” dunk the ball and then dance around like a fool. You’re 6’10”, bro, and you didn’t do that. You will watch guys own what they cannot own. Everybody has these intrinsic abilities, intrinsic gifts. After I had my craniotomy, I was so curious by the process that I was constantly asking my doctor questions. Because the game in craniotomies is you have to push it far enough to save the life, but

if you push it too far, then the guy doesn’t wake up. And there is not a line that says, “Don’t go past this” in there. So I’m asking Dr. Barnett, “So when I’m preaching, I study and I immerse myself in the text. And when I’m in front of you, I can just feel the text, I can feel the crowd and I know when to press. It’s kind of this intrinsic thing that God has done, that God has wired me with. Is that kind of like brain surgery?” He’s like, “Well, there are rules. You don’t cut that, you don’t go over here and you don’t do that.” I’m like, “Okay, there are rules in preaching too. Yes, there is hermeneutical structure, but there is also an intrinsic feel, an intrinsic ability. Is what you do something like that?” And he’s like, “Yeah, you’ve got a little bit of feel in there. There’s some of that.” I could never get him to just come out and say, “Yeah, I just kind of feel it.” But that’s what I think. I think he was like, “Yeah, we had better stop. I’m just feeling that we need to stop. His brain’s kind of leaning to the left. It’s time to sew it up.” So that’s an intrinsic ability he has. Some of you excel in the worlds of math and science, and some of you don’t. And then some of you have strengths in other places. Maybe that’s history or literature. I’ve met some of you who are high entrepreneurial, business savants. You can’t tie your shoe, but you can just make millions of dollars. Now you didn’t do that. That was given to you by God for God. So do you want to understand the priesthood of believers? This isn’t you watching me do this thing. This is us doing this thing. Some of you are doing that in the medical domain, some of you are doing that in the business domain, some of you are doing that in the sports domain and some of you are doing that on the home front. But you’ve got to get out of your mind that church is watching professionals do it. You’re robbing yourself of what you’ve been called to. Some of you have been created by God to make money for the kingdom of God. Some of you have been created by God to engage people around very difficult circumstances. I think of the doctors who are treating me and I just hurt for them. What a horrible job they have, regardless of how much they pay them. I’ve watched guys disintegrate. I sat in that radiation room. I can’t imagine. You couldn’t pay me enough to watch people die over and over again. You couldn’t pay me enough for me on my best day to go, “I’m going to cut out a chunk of your brain. Hopefully it will be all right.” As one who got to be the recipient of that news with a strong family network and strong faith, I still watched the floor fall out from underneath me for a few hours. I can’t fathom what it’s like when you don’t have those things. So you’ve been placed there by God for the glory of God. You’ve been placed in your neighborhood by God for the glory of God. Where we fail to acknowledge Him, we simply show that we’re refusing to honor Him. We’re playing into the problem of the universe. We want creation and not the Creator. “Give me Your stuff and leave me alone.” We think we’re smarter than God. “Don’t tell me how to do this. I know better than You know.” And then we fail to acknowledge Him. “I did this. I earned this. I made this happen.” No, you were born, and you were in the right place, at the right time, things lined up and you were blessed. You’re not awesome. God is not thrilled. He’s not taking over the world because you’re on His team. It’s not like the draft. He’s not going, “You know, I think next year is going to be good for Us. Look at this new crop of guys I saved.” That’s not how it works. So what we’re praying for over and over again to this day is that you would understand that the greatest problem that exists in your life is not a lust issue, it’s not a marriage issue, it’s not a medical issue, it’s not a money issue or it’s not a family issue. The greatest problem, the root problem in your life is a failure to honor God.

The second prayer is “that we would understand that discipline will never bring about love – but love always brings about discipline.” So when I got married there was all sorts of stuff I didn’t know. You just know how your family operates, and you don’t know how other people’s families operate. So when I was growing up, I would dry off after I got out of the shower and just put my towel on the floor. And magically that towel would get handled and there would be clean towels three or four days later when I would shower again. So then I got married and what did I do? Well I did what I have done my whole life. I got out of the shower, dried off and threw the towel on the floor. It took about a week of that

before Lauren was like, “Hey honey, what’s that?” Now for those of you who are single, I’m going to help you. She knows what that is. Because I was like, “A towel?” She says, “Okay, we hang up the towel.” And so I’m starting to learn these new rules. Now let me be real straight with you. Hanging up my towel, which I do to this day, I don’t do in order to love my wife. I don’t go, “You know what? I really don’t have a lot of affection for her right now. To be honest with you, she’s kind of getting on my nerves. That luster has worn off. You know what I’ll do? I’ll hang my towel. Oh, there it all is, just flooding into my heart again. It’s just like the honeymoon phase all over again.” No, that’s not how it works. Because I love Lauren, I’m disciplined to do certain things, act certain ways and not act in other ways. It’s because I love her, not in order to love her. Now this is why this is so important. I’m afraid so many of us have our framework wrong that we buy into this, “I’m going to do these things, and by doing these things, I’m going to love God all the more.” And you end up filling your lives with busy religious activity and growing exhausted. Because discipline doesn’t bring about love. Love brings about discipline.

Let me show you some of this. Turn to Galatians 3. We’ll pick it up in verse 1. “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” Do you hear what he’s accusing them of? He’s saying to them, “Who bewitched you? Who fooled you? Who tricked you? You were accepted by God and began to run with Him, and now you’ve walked away from that acceptance and now are trying to earn what was freely given to you.” He’s reminding them, “Bro, you weren’t saved because you did something. You were saved because Christ did something. And that’s where you need to rest, that’s where you need to dwell, that’s where you need to think, that’s where you need to worship and that’s going to lead to discipline.”

I’ll give you one more text. Look in 2 Corinthians 5:14-15. “For the love of Christ controls us. . .” Another way that can be translated is “compels us.” What’s the motivating force of the Christian life? What leads us to discipline? It’s love. The love of Christ compels us, it pushes us and it controls us. It’s not the fear of Christ, it’s not fear of hell, it’s not “Oh no, I had better if I want this.” No, the love of Christ compels me, it controls me and it pushes me. Why? “. . .because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” We talk about this all the time. Why does the love of Christ compel me, control me? Because I’m dead. And that’s good news because I’m prone to sin and I’m prone to rebellion. So the greatest news in the universe is that Matt Chandler died on the cross and that I’m seen as spotless, holy and blameless before the God of the universe. Why? Because I am? No, because He declares that I am in Christ. You need to really settle into that, really meditate on that and really think on that. Do you know why I say all the time that God is not in love with some future version of you? Because most of you think I’m lying to you. God’s not thrilled with a future version of you. He loves you right now. His grace is sufficient right now. We just sang straight out of Romans 5:8. We sang straight out of this biblical reality that “While you were at your worst, Christ died for you.” Think about that, sit under the weight of that and you’ll be compelled, you’ll be controlled, you’ll be pushed into wanting to know Him, worship Him, examine Him and exalt Him more completely. Discipline does not bring about love; love brings about discipline. We pray this way, preach this way and try to wire the church this way.

The third one is also a bit attached to these first two ideas. I love this one. Again, I find it to be one Christians in particular find very hard to believe. You hear it constantly when we do baptisms. Prayer number three is “That we would realize that children of God are not under wrath – but mercy.” So last weekend, I alluded to Romans 8:1 that says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Now, any shackles that are on you should fall off

on the face of this verse. That means there can never be anything introduced into my life that does not come through the hand of God and ultimately come into my life for my joy, my good and God’s glory. “Well Chandler, what about hard stuff?” Especially hard stuff. Because hard stuff is when you start to think about wrath, isn’t it? Nobody thinks

about wrath when they get a bonus at work. Nobody gets a bonus check and goes, “Oh, God’s pouring out His wrath on me right now.” That’s not when we question. In fact, we’re like, “Oh man, isn’t God merciful! Look at this check.” And I know we can be a bit dreary here at times. I always want to come back to this reality that sometimes the most gracious, merciful thing God could ever do is wound you. I want to constantly make you aware that to wounding and in that wound bind you to Himself is far more gracious than to bless you with everything you want and have you not know Him. You see, what you need more than anything else is Him, regardless of what you think you need. So we want to preach, proclaim and we have prayed that in the deepest parts of your soul you’ll know you’re not under wrath but you’re under mercy. In your darkest hour, we want you to run to Him and not from Him. In my nine years here, I’ve done dozens of funerals and only one has been for a guy over the age of thirty-five. Isn’t that crazy to think about? So as we’ve begun to get older and we’ve started to make hospital visits, one of the things that has been very encouraging to me is the steadfastness of the men and women here in the face of very difficult seasons, in the face of very difficult diseases, in the face of loss, in the face of sorrow to be able to say, “I don’t believe God is punishing me. I don’t believe this is punitive. I believe He is good and He does good, as horribly as this hurts.” So that’s one of the things we want to pray for, that you would understand that you are not under His wrath but you’re under His mercy.

Now I should have said this earlier, but I’m specifically talking to Christians. If you’re not a Christian, then I’m so grateful you’re here, but none of this really applies to you. This applies to those who are children of God. So I don’t want to build some false sense of security in you that you should not have. These things that we’re praying about have to do with the children of God, not those who, according to Romans 1, have become futile in their thinking, have had their foolish hearts darkened and believe that they are the center of the universe. This simply doesn’t apply to you if you’re not a believer. I’m not judging you; I’m just telling you what the Scriptures say. I’ll let God be your judge.

The last prayer that I’ll cover this week is a big one and will explain why I get so aggressive at times and why we as a church can get aggressive in certain venues and certain aspects of our members’ lives. Our fourth pastoral prayer is “That we would find that the fullness of all things – including life and joy – is in Christ.” John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” “. . .might have it to the full” is how some of you memorized it. So let me translate this. If you’ll breathe out and glance at our culture, you can see that we are caught in a cycle of silliness where we’re buying into the lie of, “More of what I already have is what’s going to satisfy me.” We hit the ceiling so quickly. There’s this promise, “If you have this, you’ll be satisfied.” Think about how products are pitched to you. Products are pitched to you the same way over and over again. “Your life is lacking. Here’s how we’ll get into that lack and fill it.” And the fact that it never delivers what it promises has not stopped us from going back over and over again. It doesn’t matter what you have owned, there are a couple of things that are true. There’s an intoxicating feel to new things. New stuff is intoxicating. Nice stuff is intoxicating, is it not? When you get new stuff, there’s this intoxicating thing that occurs. You get excited about it. A couple years ago, I bought a minivan for our family. It’s the first new car we’ve ever bought. I prefer older cars where if the door gets dinged, I don’t care. That’s my preference. But I got Lauren her little dream van. And she was geeked up in a way I’ve never seen a human being get geeked up. She would keep the windows up because she didn’t want that new car smell to leave the car. And it’s intoxicating. But do you know what’s not intoxicating anymore? The van. She doesn’t keep the windows up to keep the new car smell. She doesn’t care. When you get a new house, there’s this feel of, “Oh man, we love this house,” or “I can’t believe we got a house. I own one, wow!” But you don’t think that anymore. You just go home. Even those of you who have had some cash and have been able to remodel and stuff, how long does it take for you to forget what the old looked like? So the problem goes back to the first one of failure to honor God. Most of us are trying to find the fullness of life and the fullness of joy in things that cannot deliver.

Now this leads me into aggression. This means that all the commands of God in the Scripture are about leading you into joy. So when the Word of God says, “This is what marriage looks like,” He’s not trying to steal from you. How is

God glorified in your begrudging submission under the fear of hell? “Well, I had better do what He says because He’s got lightning bolts and tornadoes. How are you supposed to fight against that? What are you going to do?” God’s not glorified in that in the same way that marriage isn’t glorified if I were to be asked, “How are you and Lauren doing?” and I said, “Well, I made a vow. I stood up in front of our families and said ‘I do.’” That doesn’t make anybody go, “Hmm, I’ve dreamed of a marriage like that.” No, God is glorified in that fact that we enjoy Him, that we love Him, that He gives good gifts to His children. So when God addresses marriage, when God addresses sex, when God addresses your body, when God addresses money, when God speaks into any facet of life, He is trying to lead you into joy. So for those of you who are struggling right now against God’s commands concerning something and what you actually want to do, He’s trying to lead you into life. He’s not trying to take joy from you. When I was going through premarital counseling, David McQueen asked me a question. It was a set-up question, one that I found out was an illegitimate question my first year of marriage. He said, “Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?” So I thought that was clever and wrote it down. About

six months into marriage, I was like, “Sometimes being right makes me happy.” So I e-mailed him, “David, you need to think of a different little quip.” So there have been times that I know that God wants me to respond to my wife in a certain way, and yet I want to respond to my wife in a certain way. So I feel this tear in me, and I’ve just come to this resolve. God’s way is going to lead to greater joy, greater life and deeper intimacy than my way. In fact, my way is broken. There

is a way that seems right to me that in the end leads to death, as the Word of God says. So what I mean by aggression is, when you become a covenant member of the Village Church, we’re going to simply teach you through our covenant, which basically says, “Here’s what the Word of God expects of the elders of the Village Church. Here’s what the Word of God expects from a maturing believer in Jesus Christ under this body of elders. Here is what the expectations are between the relationship of elder and covenant member of the Village Church.” And in that agreement is a section on church discipline that everybody signs, agrees to and loves that’s in there until it’s their turn. And then all of a sudden there’s, “Well the Bible doesn’t really say that to me. That’s not what that text means to me.” And we’ve talked about how if feel about that. There is something that the text means. What it says to you, is another matter. David Koresh took the Bible, told people he was Jesus and they believed him. You can twist the Scriptures. The Scriptures tell you men twist the Scriptures. The Bible even tells you that you can easily be deceived by your interpretation of the Scriptures. This is why authority and an eldership that you trust is so important, because you’ve got blind spots just like us. The reason community is so important is that we’re able to see each other’s blind spots. It’s why attending a church is dumb and belonging to one is smart. So we want to constantly pray, and we want to beseech God Almighty. We pray that you would understand, through preaching, teaching and the community of faith here, that your greatest life and joy is found in Jesus Christ alone, and therefore you would pursue Him with all your heart, all your mind and all your soul. We pray that you would seek Him, that you would find Him, that you would worship Him, make much of Him, plug in to others who wish to do so and that we might see these things begin to take root.

Now I think we’ve done that in a lot of areas, but let me just conclude today by asking you a couple of questions to consider. If you’re honest, is it evident that you understand that your greatest problem is not a moral one but rather a failure to honor God? Now here’s the easiest way to dissect that. If all your vitality and energy is going into fixing this problem rather than pursuing a relationship with Jesus Christ, you’re confused. So if you’re going, “My problem isn’t Jesus. My problem is porn. So I’ve got the web filter, my buddies are gathering around me and I’m not going to do that anymore,” and you’re not instead trying to pursue the Lord, trying to grow in a knowledge of the Lord, then you’ve missed this first foundational thing that we want to see sowed in here. You think your greatest problem is some moral action. That moral action is a problem, but it’s a symptom of a disease. And if you’re treating symptoms and not the disease, you’re in a lot of trouble. So looking at your world, what’s your greatest problem?

The second question is this. How much are you counting on our own ability to grow in a love for Jesus Christ? How often are you going, “Grow my affection for You”? If you’re weak-willed in regards to discipline, that’s a love problem. Do you have a hard time getting in the Word of God? That’s a love problem. Do you have a hard time praying? That’s a love

problem. You can’t turn that switch on. You need to ask, fast, seek and plead with the Lord to stir your affections for Him. You need to begin to fill your life with things that stir your affection for Him. Start to pay attention to what robs you or distracts you of affection for Him. How much are you counting on your ability to love the Lord, and how much are you simply looking at, praying for and pleading with God Almighty to increase your affections?

Do you understand that you’re not under wrath? Do you really believe that God enjoys you? When you think about how God thinks about you, do you have a hard time believing that God enjoys you or are you constantly feeling like you’re going to get exposed as being a fraud and God’s going to eventually light you up? Are you going to get to the end of your race and have God go, “Hell for you. I know you went to church, but hell for you”? How do you think God feels about you? Do you understand that He loves you? Can you believe those texts that say He actually enjoys you? “Well I’m a mess.” You know what? My daughter keeps pooping her pants. But that hasn’t stopped me from loving her. I have to clean that stank stuff up, but it doesn’t make me hate her, despise her. Do you know why? Because I know she’s going

to grow. I know she’s going to move past that. I see it. I know. I can say the same thing about my eight-yearold. She does stuff right now where I’m just like, “Uh uh!” I know she’s going to move past that and then do things that twelve-year- olds do. I know that’s coming. But I don’t despise any of my children, despite that all of them right now have issues. Because I’ve got issues. It’s my understanding in the gospel that God deeply loves me. How do I know? The cross. That’s how I know. Because I as way jacked up before He went to the cross, and He still went.

And lastly, what is your ultimate pursuit? What are you ultimately after? Are you seeking Him, pursuing Him and chasing Him? I think this is where some stuff divides. Are you trying to manage and control sin, or are you trying to grow in your love for and knowledge of Jesus Christ? So these are prayers we’ve been praying for you for a long time. I think we’ve seen a lot of fruit in these areas, and we’ve got a long way to go in these areas. Isn’t that always the truth?

Let’s pray. “Father, I thank You for these men and women. Thank You for an opportunity to be reminded of Your call on us. I pray that we would believe deeply, not just intellectually, not just with words that we know how to say, but that we would believe in the real core of our hearts that we are accepted by You, loved by You and celebrated by You in Christ. I pray that that might lead us to repentance in all sorts of areas in our lives. I pray for my brothers and sisters in here today who are sitting under difficulty. I pray that the truth that this isn’t wrath might wash over them like a wave and they would just feel a freedom. I pray that we would fearlessly and relentlessly pursue You as our greatest joy. Help us. We need You. It’s for Your beautiful name. Amen.”