This song has been wrecking me this week.

The most life-changing encounter I have ever had with God was when I had the audacity to challenge God to prove Himself to me.

Instead of ignoring me or striking me down in my arrogance, He responded in love, and He answered me.

And I have never forgotten that day.

“Prayer of Yielding”

“I am no longer my own, but thine.

Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.

Put me to doing, put me to suffering.

Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee,

exalted for thee or brought low for thee.

Let me be full, let me be empty.

Let me have all things, let me have nothing.

I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.

And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it.

And the covenant which I have made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.

Amen.”

“Wesley Covenant Service”, John Wesley, Founder of the Methodist Church

Also, did you know that Martha’s Vinyard is the site of the first Methodist Summer Campground in the United States?

My 2019 Reading List

Since there are only a few days left in 2019 and I don’t think I will get any more books in before the year ends, here’s a list of some of the books I read in 2019 that you should add to your 2020 list.

“Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life” by Marshall B. Rosenberg

“The Red Sea Rules: Ten God-Given Strategies for Difficult Times” by Robert J. Morgan

“The Pilgrim’s Regress” by C.S. Lewis

“The Boy Crisis: Why our boys are struggling and what we can do about it” by Warren Farrell Ph.D. and John Gray Ph.D.

“The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis

“Punk Monk: New Monasticism and the Ancient Art of Breathing” by Andy Freeman

“The Road Back to You” by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile

“The Naked Now: Learning to see as the mystics see” by Richard Rohr

“Orthodoxy” by G.K. Chesterton

“Simplicity: The Freedom of Letting Go.” By Richard Rohr

“The Lord and His Prayer” by N.T. Wright

“Out of Solitude: Three Meditations on the Christian Life” by Henri Nouwen

“Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer” by Richard Rohr

“Making All Things New: An Invitation to the Spiritual Life” by Henri Nouwen

“Everything Belongs to God: Discovering the Hidden Christ” by Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt

“Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life” by Richard Rohr

“Humility” by Andrew Murray

“The Return of the Prodigal Son” by Henri Nouwen

“A Long Obedience in the Same Direction” by Eugene H. Peterson

“The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Own Unique Path to Spiritual Growth” by Christopher L. Heuertz

“How the Bible Actually Works” by Peter Enns

“Fearfully and Wonderfully: The Marvel of Bearing God’s Image” by Dr. Paul Bland and Philip Yancey

“How To Pray: A Simple Guide for Normal People.” by Pete Greig

“No Man Is an Island” by Thomas Merton

“Everything Happens for a Reason and Other Lies I’ve Loved” by Kate Bowler

“The Lord of the Ring” by Phil Anderson

“The Jesus Way” by Eugene Peterson

“Blessed Broken Given” by Glen Packian

“Letters from a Modern Mystic” by Frank C. Laubach

“The Cost of Discipleship” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

You can read my lists from previous years or check out the list of books I think everyone should read.

You’ve Become a Pharisee

“Imagine yourself moving into a house with a huge picture window overlooking a grand view across a wise expanse of water enclosed by a range of snow-capped mountains. You have a ringside seat before wild storms and cloud formations, the entire spectrum of sun-illuminated colors in the rocks and trees and wildflowers and water. You are captivated by the view. Several times a day you interrupt your work and stand before this window to take in the majesty and the beauty, thrilled with the botanical and meteorological fireworks.

One afternoon you notice some bird droppings on the window glass, get a bucket of water and a towel, and clean it. A couple of days later a rain storm leaves the window streaked, and the bucket comes out again. Another day visitors come with a thrive of small dirty-fingered children. The moment they leave you see all the smudge marks on the glass. They are hardly out the door before you have the bucket out. You are so proud of that window, and it’s such a large window. But it’s incredible how many different ways foreign objects can attach themselves to that window, obscuring the vision, distracting from the contemplative beauty.

Keeping that window clean develops into an obsessive-compulsive neurosis. You accumulate ladders and buckets and squeegees. You construct a scaffolding inside and out to make it possible to get to the all the difficult corners and heights. You have the cleanest window in North America — but it’s now been years since you looked through it.

You’ve become a Pharisee.”

Eugene Peterson, ‘The Jesus Way

Real Questions from Fr. Nouwen

“Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone’s face? Did I say words of healing? Did I let go of my anger and resentment? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come.”

 Henri J.M. Nouwen

Honesty and Truth are Not Always Equal

I have always respected an honest opinion. I like dealing with people who will share their feelings even if those feelings might be unpopular, make the person sharing them unpopular or not make the people they are sharing them with feel good.

But just because someone is honest, it does not make them right.

An honest opinion can still be honestly wrong, or at least based on incomplete or misinformation.

The Enemy is the Enemy

“People are not the enemy. The enemy is the enemy.”

My father-in-law says that a lot. And it’s true.
People are not the enemy, but people can be stupid.
And hurtful.
And mean.
And angry.
And insecure.
And hurting.
And sad.
And bitter.
And broken.
And hopeless.
And sometimes, so am I.
We must learn to forgive.
We must learn to give the people the benefit of the doubt.

“We are all in the same boat in a stormy sea, and we owe each other a terrible loyalty.” — GK Chesterton

Come to Me

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28–29

It’s an invitation.

It’s an invitation to a new way of living.

It’s an invitation to peace.

And all it takes if for me to let down my guard, drop all pretense and show. I have to become honest and authentic with where I am. I need to completely open up about my pain, frustration, worry, doubt, and fear.

I have to come to Him.

Let it Go

I’m amazed at how many people I meet that are missing great opportunities because they can’t bring themselves to let old things go.

People that are holding on so tightly to an offense that they don’t have a hand free to grab on to something good that might be coming there way.

Unforgiveness is a prison. It traps you at the moment in time when the offense occurred. I know you know people like this. They talk about hurts they experienced five, ten, twenty years ago like it happened yesterday.

Some people are lucky; when they hold on to unforgiveness, it only affects one area of their life. For other people, unforgiveness takes over.

They become bitter, hurting, mean, and unhappy.
They don’t know how it happened. They use to be normal. They use to be happy. They use to be unafraid. They use to not feel so alone.

The offense was real. The pain you felt was real. The pain you might feel right now is real. But the odds are, the only one who is hurt by it now is you.

To hold onto an offense, to not forgive, to live any part of your life in the past only hurts you.

You may be spending so much time looking at the past, that you’re missing a great future.

Don’t let what happened to you in the past affect what could happen to you today.

Your spouse may have cheated and left, that doesn’t mean your next one will. Your parents may have hurt you, we all make mistakes, we all say things we shouldn’t. Your kids may not be speaking to you, call them again. Your old business partner may have stolen from you. Start a new business.

Every day that you wake up is a new day, full of new possibilities and great opportunities.

Don’t hinder yourself.

Choose to let go. Choose to forgive.

Terms of Service

This is a term we are all familiar with. (Unless you live in a cave somewhere.)

These are the rules that we have to agree to so we can use specific devices or software like our phones or social media. Every once in a while, it seems more often than not, these rules are updated, and we have to agree with them.

The updated terms never benefit us, the consumer. They are usually the result of some loophole that was found by the company, and they want to protect themselves. We hardly ever read them, and have no idea what we agree to. (The companies count on that, we could be signing the rights of our organs away for all we know.)

I had a funny thought about this the other day. The Bible is God’s “terms of service.”

It is God telling us, this is who I am, this is what I do, and this is what you need to do to connect with Me. (He does more for us than we do for Him BTW)

But His terms never change. He never updates them to change what He is willing to do or who He is willing to love. They just are. Always. Never changing. Perfect.

And they are there for our benefit, not His. The Bible is not an exhaustive list of what God is willing to do or be until He changes His mind and then changes the terms.

He is always the same. His word never changes. He never changes.

It’s Time to Leave

It’s time to shake off that old thing that’s been holding on for so long that you feel as if it has become part of your body.

Maybe it’s a failure, a heartbreak, or something you wish you had said but didn’t or never had the chance.

Whatever it is, whatever has anchored you to your past, leaving you unable to move forward into freedom or destiny, maybe it’s time to leave it.

Maybe it’s time to let it go.

Remember, “You don’t drown by falling in the water, you drown by staying there.”

Everything You Need

Has God put something in your heart to do? Then do it! Why are you waiting to start?

“Don’t think you have to put on a fund-raising campaign before you start. You don’t need a lot of equipment. You are the equipment… Travel light.”
Matt. 10:9–10 (MSG)

Invest in People

Find one or two people that you know could use a friend and give them your time, your love, and most importantly your sincerity.

Be Yourself

Be yourself. Quit comparing yourself to others. Just STOP. You are UNIQUE. You are RARE. You are SPECIAL. THERE IS, NEVER WAS AND NEVER WILL BE ANYONE LIKE YOU. God has a plan and a purpose for you. And His plan for this world has a job that NO ONE can do except YOU!

Quit focusing on what others ARE doing and what you’re NOT doing. Start focusing on what God IS doing.

Relax. Take it easy. Slow down. Wait.

Wait.

If you’ve been struggling with comparing yourself to others, or trusting that God has a plan for you, why don’t you pray this simple prayer right now:

Father, I love you. I only want what you want for me. Guide my every step down the path You have for me. Pour Your peace over me as I learn to trust in you completely. Amen.

A Dangerous Prayer

“Almighty and eternal God, so draw our hearts to you, so guide our minds, so fill our imaginations, so control our wills, that we may be wholly yours, utterly dedicated to you; and then use us, we pray, as you will, and always to your glory and welfare of your people; through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.”

A very dangerous prayer from ‘The Book of Common Prayer.’ Be careful not to take it to heart, unless you’re ready for the consequences. A life exactly like you’ve just prayed.

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Hey, I'm Niles.

I’m the Husband to one, Father to four, and Pastor of a unique congregation at Gateway Church.