Best-selling author, more than 70 books
His latest, Come Thirsty (W. Publishing, 2004)
Dubbed “America’s Pastor” by Christianity Today magazine (April 2004)
More than 39 million books in print in more than 20 languages
Senior Pastor, Oak Hills Church, San Antonio, TX; 3,500+ members
M.A. and B.A., Abilene Christian University
former missionary to Brazil
wife, Denalyn, 3 daughters
Max says that we must be hydrated in our spirits as much as we need to be hydrated in our physical bodies. Physically, if we deprive our bodies of necessary fluid, our bodies will give us signals and tell us. Dry mouth, thick tongue, achy head, and weak knees are all symptoms of the fluid level growing low in our bodies. Max says it’s the same for our spirituality. “If you deprive your soul of spiritual water, your soul will tell you,” says Max. If you notice snarling tempers, waves of worry, growing guilt and fear, Max says those are all symptoms of a dehydrated spirit.
He wrote a prayer for the thirsty heart:
Lord, I come thirsty. I come to drink, to receive. I receive your work on the cross and in your resurrection. My sins are pardoned, and my death is defeated. I receive your energy. Empowered by your Holy Spirit, I can do all things through Christ, who gives me strength. I receive your lordship. I belong to you. Nothing comes to me that hasn’t passed through you. And I receive your love. Nothing can separate me from your love.
Max says he has offered this prayer in countless situations: stressful meetings, dull days, long drives, or during character-testing decisions. He says that many people are engaged in church events, but those things alone never satisfy. “Church activities might hide a thirst,” says Max. “But only Christ quenches it.”
He says we must allow Jesus to do to our spirits what water does to our bodies. We must let Him penetrate our hearts. How do we do this? Max says that we should not dismiss the warning signals. Don’t deny the anger. Don’t deny the loneliness. Max says we need ceaseless communion with Jesus in order to be satisfied.
Once Max was watching a baseball game and lost his cable connection. A week earlier, the pest-control man discovered a cat in the attic and set out a trap. The trap worked; the cat was in the wire cage, but it managed to chew on the cable and cause the disruption. Max reminds us that the bad habits of our lives are much like pests: acknowledging them isn’t enough; you have to do something to get them out of the house! Max says some of our critters could be jealousy, bigotry, greed, or anxiety. He says we can’t just make a mental note that our bad habits need attention. “Ask God to help you get rid of them,” he says.
Max says even if it is not our regular habit, we need to schedule at least 30 minutes to get alone with God each day. Use the time to thank Him and to reveal to you what areas are most dehydrated. Once the Lord has answered your prayer, ask for strength and wisdom to give that area over to healing.
Keep a worry journal for three months. More than 90 percent of what we worry about never happens. Or try an experiment for a week. Get a notebook and carry it with you. Then, whenever you are faced with a temptation or difficult decision, pray that God will guide you as you write the request in the notebook. After the week has passed, go back through the notebook to see how the Holy Spirit has really done remarkable things in your life.
Max, 49, originally from West Texas, was recently dubbed “America’s Pastor” by Christianity Today magazine. When he was 16, Max spent hot summer nights digging ditches and drinking beer, but soon he began to wonder if there was more to life than what he was doing.
A required Bible class during his sophomore year at Abilene Christian University changed the course of Max’s life. He was fascinated with the professor’s portrayal of Jesus and became convinced he wanted to be a follower.
He moved to Miami and met Denalyn at a singles event at church. They married in 1981, have three daughters, and he has pastored Oak Hills Church since 1988.
In 1985 Max mailed his first manuscript, On the Anvil, to 15 publishers who originally rejected him. (It was published by Tyndale.)
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