Not Good Enough to Talk to God

Have you ever felt like you couldn’t pray or help someone out spiritually because you’re not living as spiritually as you think you should?

I recently overheard a conversation where one person confessed that he doesn’t pray anymore because He isn’t as close to God as he used to be. He feels that God isn’t going to listen to him because he is not doing what he knows he should be doing.

You might think this is silly, but I can completely relate.

There are times in my life when I feel like I’m being a strong Christian. I’m reading my Bible daily, praying constantly, and fasting regularly. I’m doing everything a “good Christian” should do and avoiding any obvious sins. It’s in these times when things are going well that I feel closest to God. I feel like God and I are best buds. I talk to Him and He listens, because I’m being such a good little Christian.

But those times only seem to last a few months. Before long I end up going down the same road as before. I stop reading my Bible, stop praying, and fasting is way out. I start fighting temptations more often and I get argumentative with my wife for no reason or start spending money selfishly putting us further in debt.

During those times in my life I know I can’t help others spiritually. Why would anyone listen to a failure who can’t even follow God for more than a few months at a time without sliding back into a worldly routine? Praying will be pointless because there is no reason God should listen to me. People want help from those who have been in their situation and overcame it and God only listens to those who are following Him in everything. Right?

In those seasons where I feel spiritually strong I know God will, of course, listen to me. Need prayer? Come to me! I’ll help, because I’m close to God so He listens to me. Need spiritual advice? Come to me! Because I’m reading the Bible daily so I have special insights and can tell you exactly what to do.

Because I am awesome enough that I can draw close to God. It’s all about Me.

I’m a puny spotted sheep in a flock of other puny spotted sheep thinking that I have an inside relationship with the Shepard because for once in my life, I’m actually doing what I’m told.

How arrogant can I be?

In 2010, I was going through one of those spiritual valleys. During this time I felt overwhelmingly called to write for ETM again and to resurrect this ministry.

Immediately my response was to say “NO!” How could I possibly tell others they should follow God when I wasn’t even doing it?

That’s like someone telling me – an un-athletic, overweight, couch potato – to go play hockey for the Colorado Avalanche! I would quickly be found out to be a fraud and would do nothing but humiliate myself and the team.

In the same way, I can’t possibly represent God or help others when I’m in my spiritual couch-potato mode. If I wanted to play on the team then first I need to start an intensive training regimen.

Only after getting back into spiritual shape by reading my Bible daily and doing all of the things I know I should do, would I even be able to consider trying to help others or be used by God. Only then will I be strong enough to… to go help God? Because the creator of the Universe who has infinite power and wisdom, He, really needs me and my spiritual beefiness.

God didn’t call me to start a spiritual weight training routine, He called me to write. Not later, but right then.

When we are spiritually strong we tend to get prideful. Pretending it is our own ability that makes us close to God. We feel like we can lead others to follow God closer because “look at me, I did it!” We tell others how we are following God and encourage them to do the same things we do.

But this attitude is an offense to God. We have to realize that all of us are horrible sinners before God. None of us are good (Romans 3:10), all of our best works are nothing but filthy rags.

But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away. (‭Isaiah‬ ‭64‬:‭6‬ NKJV)

Casting Crowns gave some good imagery for this verse in their new song “All You’ve Ever Wanted” they sing:

But all my deeds and my good name
Are just dirty rags that tear and strain
To cover all my guilty stains
That You already washed away

All of our good deeds are dirty before God. During those times when I’m feeling strong I’m really just dressing myself up in filthy, oily, blood soaked rags and acting like I’m wearing a tux. And then I approach God to show Him how amazing I look in my rags.

Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. (‭Ephesians‬ ‭1‬:‭4-5‬ NLT)

The only reason I can ever be spiritually strong is because God gives me the ability to be. It isn’t about me taking spiritual steroids and weight lifting to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. It’s about me, being a quadriplegic and being strong only because God is my Iron Man suit. It’s all about Him. I am nothing.

God wanted me to write for ETM, not because I was good and in a position to lead others, but because He wanted to use me. I was to write because He had things to teach me. I was to write because He wanted to speak to others through me.

It’s all about God. Our works don’t make us a better Christian, only God does that.

When you are in a spiritual slump, don’t stop yourself from praying. That’s when you need to pray the most and when you are the most honest with God. A prideful and arrogant heart that thinks it deserves God’s respect is in fact disgusting to God, while a humble heart that recognizes it’s need for God brings Him honor.

A man’s pride will bring him low, But the humble in spirit will retain honor. (‭Proverbs‬ ‭29‬:‭23‬ NKJV)

It’s never about us and our ability to follow. It’s all about God.

Have you ever used the excuse that you are not spiritually strong enough to avoid doing what God is leading you to do?

My Apology to you, lessons from Jonah

Over the past several months God has put a lot of messages on my heart to write about and share on ETM.

But sadly, I have been too busy or distracted to write them. I mean, it’s not really a big deal, right? All I was putting off was writing on a simple website – a blog – not anything “real”. Part of why I felt that was was due to a few comments I received about this site, saying that by writing for a website I am just fooling myself into thinking that I’m doing something for God and the church, while in reality I’m just wasting my time that should be used to do something “real” with actual people.

Sadly I let those words of discouragement affect me for way too long, evidenced by the fact that I have only written a single article since hearing them.

This week God used an extremely long and boring drive through Nebraska (twice) to teach me something. With nothing else to entertain me for 18 + hours in the car, I turned to podcast sermons from a few churches that I really like. A few of those messages were by Pastor Lance Ralston, from Calvary Chapel of Oxnard.

The passage covered was a story I have heard numerous times throughout my life, but for some reason I found that this particular sermon was crammed packed with several new insights. It was awesome! And then it became convicting.

The message ended by saying that any time we refuse to do what God tells us to, we are being like Jonah. No, we may not be picking up and running in the opposite direction of what we are told to do, but is that any worse than disobeying by sitting on our couches while ignoring God? When God tells you to do something, you need to do it. It didn’t take long for that message to personally hit me, and instantly I knew it was about ETM.

It took another two days of dwelling on the sermon before something else hit me.

But the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, and there was a mighty tempest on the sea, so that the ship threatened to break up. Then the mariners were afraid, and each cried out to his god. And they hurled the cargo that was in the ship into the sea to lighten it for them. – Jonah 1:4-5 (ESV)

One of the things the pastor mentioned that I had never before considered about the story of Jonah, was the impact his disobedience and sin would have on others. When Jonah booked passage on a ship to Tarsus, it wasn’t a pleasure cruise. It was a cargo ship. He was sailing with sailors who made a living from delivering cargo.

But then Jonah stepped on board. And as a consequence of his personal sin the entire crew suffered. After they set sail a storm hit the ship. One powerful enough to panic an experienced crew to the point that they started dumping their cargo, their livelihood, overboard. The storm almost broke the ship in half, because it was so strong. They were not the ones disobeying God, they were the innocent bystanders, but because of Jonah’s disobedience the crew lost an entire shipment of cargo, and almost lost their lives.

If God puts a message on my heart to write about, then I need to do it. There are no excuses about how “nobody will read it” or how “pointless” a virtual ministry is. I just need to obey. It’s up to God to make it effective, and since I don’t know the future I can’t even hope to make a prediction about how the article may affect someone.

There might have been a person who would have read one of those articles on this website who needed to hear exactly what I was told to share. Maybe they needed wisdom, edification, or conviction, from what they would have read. But because I never wrote it, I missed out on an opportunity to be used by God to be a blessing in another person’s life. And for what? So I could watch some movies or play games?

Or maybe what I wrote never would have been used to help someone. Maybe I’m just supposed to write it out of obedience. For whatever the reason, I was led to do something awesome and I didn’t do it. And for that, I give you a heartfelt apology. I’m sorry I disobeyed God and was not there for you when you needed me to be.

Jon Zenor

Another season to focus on God!

This summer has been crazy with activities for the staff at ETM.  As you have noticed if you are following us on Twitter or Facebook, we had to take the summer off from writing articles, which we were sorry to have to do.

Life is not any less busy during the rest of the year, but most summer activities include a lot of breaks in the normal routine of things, making writing regularly difficult.  But that break is now over.

We have some awesome articles and book reviews coming in the next couple of weeks, so subscribe to our feed, follow us on Facebook, and keep an eye out for those.

Announcements

We are always trying to find ways to improve ETM so we are making a few changes to help move towards that goal.

Staff Down sizing

I hate to start out the announcements on a negative announcement, but that is just the way it goes sometimes.  Several of our staff members have too many commitments between family, school, other ministries, and other real life things to be able to focus much on ETM.  I commend the effort given by all of our staff members to date and welcome them back at any time if the Lord leads them.  Please keep them in your prayers during this busy season of their lives.  Also I ask that you would keep ETM in your prayers that we can continue with the shortage of staff, or that the Lord would bring staff members to help fill the shoes that are now left empty.

Article Frequency

With the fewer people writing articles we will now be releasing a new article every four to five days instead of every three to four.  We hope this schedule will still bring you plenty of quality, Biblical content and will encourage you in your relationship with God.

New Staff wanted!

Given this information it is obvious that we could use some help on staff.  If you have any experience in writing, or want experience in writing articles, we could use your help.  Not just writers either.  Gamers, editors, forum users, we want you all!  Check out the ETM Staff page to view the positions available and what the requirements are, then fill out our staff application to apply for the position.

We do not just want those who are the most experienced or who have the degrees.  Our main area of focus for staff members is first and foremost a dedication and love for God.  Without a daily relationship with Him this ministry is nothing.  Also we want people who are committed to ETM and want to see the ministry survive and thrive.

ETM Christian Gaming

There are several Christians who enjoy playing various online games together in a family-friendly environment that encourages Biblical discussions and pursuing God.  We know games are easy to get wrapped up in and sometimes want extra accountability to stay focused on Christ.  The Bible says “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)  This includes time spent playing games.

In response to this we want to setup a network of Christian guilds, to provide support and tools needed to run their guilds or servers while maintaining Christian accountability and a family friendly environment.

If you are interested in helping us out in this endeavor, please consider filling out an application.  This is a fairly new idea so you can be there and help from the ground up, and take a part in actually shaping how these guilds will work.

A Baby is Born!

The wife of one of our staff members, Sean, is about to give birth to their third child!  Congratulate them on their new bundle of joy and keep them in prayer as they make this transition in their life.

That is all of the announcements for now.  Stay tuned for some awesome and challenging articles that will be published on the site soon.  If you have a Twitter or Facebook account follow us! 🙂

ETM 2.2 Updates

We really do try to be satisfied with the website we have and to leave things alone. Changing things frequently tends to confuse regular visitors and makes an organization seem a little unstable at times.  For this reason we take the discussion to change the layout of a site very seriously and try to avoid it when possible.

But sometimes you just can’t help it. We have, once again, changed the look of the website, but we hope it is for the better. We have made the website a lot easier to navigate, bringing the important parts of the website to more prominant positions and making the overal theme look more professional.

So what do you think of these changes? Is there anything you would improve with the site still?

Do not forget to give a big round of applouse to Sean for all the hard work he did in updating the website.

ETM Spring Update

This year has proven to be really busy for just about everybody here at ETM, which led to a few week break from writing articles, but we are back in action! And we have some exciting changes.

Article Schedule

The first thing to note is that we have changed how and when we release new articles.  Instead of Media Monday, the Bible article on Thursday, and the podcast on Saturday, we will just be posting a new article, which can be any category, every three days or so.

This gives us a lot more flexability and relaxes the schedule to make writing articles a lot easier to manage.

ETM Gaming

ETM now has a group of gamers that want to enjoy online gaming in a Christian environment. We are working on setting up all of the details still but there are already two guilds setup, one for World of Warcraft, and one for Rift. If you want any more information on them check out the ETM Gaming page.

If you have a guild or online gaming group you want to have affiliated with ETM write an email to Info@EternalTruthMinistry.com and give us the details of your group. We will contact you with details from there.

Guest Articles

We are now allowing articles to be written by guests.  Guest articles will allow ETM members to get more involved in this ministry and allow those who do not meet the requirements to be on staff to still have their articles published.  We are excited about this change and look forward to seeing what articles everyone writes.  For more information check out the Guest Writers page.

Spring Break!

This year has really been exciting so far for ETM. We have some cool announcements coming up that you will enjoy, especially you gamers. Keep on checking the website for that information soon.

We have had some great articles the past two months, but writing those articles takes a lot of time and everything has been pretty busy for all of the ETM staff. Which means we will be taking a two week break from publishing articles to give everyone some time to catch their breath and take their time getting some articles writen.

We will have an announcement or two to make during this break, so you should still stop by and check out the updates.

So anyway, see you in a couple of weeks!

Website Maintenance Monday

The ETM website and forums will be going down Monday night, January 17, at 11:59 pm EST for maintenance.  Downtime could last anywhere from one to six hours.  

You can follow our progress on Twitter by following @EternalTruthMin or join our Facebook group.

We are sorry for any inconvenience that this will cause, but the results will be well worth the down time.  Thank you.

Prayer List

App Name: Prayer List
Price: $1.99
Platform: iPad & iPhone

I use my iPad for pretty much everything, from reading my Bible to checking Facebook to writing articles for ETM. My goal lately has been to have a serious prayer life, so I started the search for an iPad app. I could just use any of the text editors, but I wanted something a little more specialized. I ended up finding two decent prayer apps. The first is called “Prayer List” and costs $1.99, the other is called myPraypal and is free. I liked Prayer List more so it will be the subject of this week’s Media Monday article. Tune in next week for a review of myPraypal.

Prayer List lets you enter a subject for your prayers as well as the full text. This makes a clean one line list when viewing a list of the prayers. You can also assign any prayer to a category and have the main window show just one category or all categories. You can mark prayers as answered as well as put a comment of how they were answered. One thing that makes this app nice is you can leave a prayer marked unanswered while still filling in the answered comments. This is useful for ongoing prayers which are being answered slowly over time. Once a prayer has been answered it is removed from the active list and moved to an answered list and the date answered is also recorded for future reference.

There are no default categories so you have to set some up when you start the app, but this is easy to do. The entire application works pretty much like you have come to expect ipad apps to work which makes the learning curve for this app very small.

Prayer List has the added advantage of being password protected, and not with just a 4 digit pin; full passwords are accepted. Another nice feature of this app is you can have backgrounds which make the app pleasing to the eye. You can adjust the contrast or turn the text white to make sure the text works with the background you are using. When viewing any prayer request you can press the envelope button at the bottom to email the prayer request to someone to help get others to pray with you.

One really nice feature of this app is sorting. They have various sorting methods, alphabetical, or date added, but my favorite is manual sorting. How I use it is to drag what I just prayed for to the bottom of the list so I have at the top of the list things I have not prayed for in a while. This allows me to make sure I cover everything in prayer.

You may say a prayer list is a bad thing because it just makes you go through prayer like a check list and not praying from your heart. I admit I fell into that trap a couple of times this week, but more often than that I just used this app to start me off in what to pray for and I prayed as the spirit led. When I was done I then went back to the app and put things that I prayed for on the bottom and then I prayed for the top thing and the spirit led from there. Or you can just pray for one category at a time.

The beauty of this app is that you can use it however you want to encourage and remind you to pray and it looks beautiful at the same time.

Happy New Year, 2011 is here!

Welcome to 2011! As the calendar turns to another year it gives many a feeling of being able to start over, a fresh chance to change what we have failed to change in the past year.   We at Eternal Truth Ministry are taking advantage of this chance to start on a fresh page.  ETM is officially being brought online, although this time with a different purpose.

In the past we have mostly been about a community, with forums and chat rooms being the primary focus of our ministry.  Today we are going to start on a new focus, writing articles that share the uncompromised word of God.  We are not going to get rid of the community aspect of the ministry, just chaning our primary focus.

Time is short.  There is not much time left for the world and the Christian church, God’s primary and only tool to reach the world is asleep.   We see a deep need in the church to wake up and get to the job Jesus set us to do, and we are commited to doing everything we can do to fulfill that purpose. 

We invite you to join us as we start this wild roller coaster ride, dedicating ourselves to denying ourselves fully and serving God.

How can you get involved?

Join the email list

The quickest way to keep up with the articles we write at ETM is to join our mailling list.  (It is safe, we promise not to sell your information or send you spam.)  Every article we write will be emailed to you, about 2 or 3 emails a week. To join all you have to do is enter your email address in the subscription box at the top right of our home page.

Follow us on Twitter

Are you a member of Twitter? Follow @EternalTruthMin on twitter to receive notifications of each article published, and new topics on the forum.  We also tweet a random article from the past every few days.

Join the prayer team

The easiest and absolute best way to get involved is to join our prayer team. The prayer team is dedicated to pray for ETM every day, since without the Lord leading us we would not be doing anything except by the power of man, which is useless.  The prayer team also prays for prayer requests that people send in. 

To join the prayer team all you have to do is Follow the directions on the prayer team page. Instructions on sending a message to the prayer team will be added to that page soon.

Join the forum

The ETM forum community has always been a great way to have Christian fellowship online.  Feel free to join our forum community and get involved in the conversations we have there.

Join our Facebook group

ETM has a Facebook group where we share prayer requests and share words of encouragement to the members of the group.

Have a happy New Year!

As you ring in the new year, take tonight to dedicate your life to Jesus, shed off all forms of sin and selfishness, and focus on God.  Make it a commitment to read the Bible every day and to spend time in prayer. If you can take a couple of hours to watch a football game, or play video games, can’t you take the time to spend with your savior?!?