Don’t be a Grinch trying to Steal the Hope of Christmas?

a- grinch      Most of us are acquainted with Dr. Seuss’s Grinch, the Green grumpy creature, which is intent on ruining Christmas for the village of Whoville. Theodor (Dr. Seuss) Geisel’s written rhyme in 1957 has over the years been made into various movies. The green self-seeking creature is embedded in most of our memory as the one that would do anything to steal the joy, hope and blessing of Christmas. Though it is just a story full of humor and fun it brings out a message that we are faced with each and every year. There are always those who want to steal the message of hope during this incredible season.

Interestingly enough we read a very similar story in the gospel of Mathew. Even though there are no green monsters and the setting is not Whoville but Jerusalem. We read in Matt 2:1-3, “…in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? …When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled”. Jesus had been born a couple years earlier and now the wise men of the east had come to Jerusalem looking for the child King, to worship Him. King Herod was agitated and was shaken to his core at the Wise men’s report. Keep in mind every since the angels had announced Jesus was born King of the Jews to the Sheppard’s years earlier, the news had spread throughout the social media of the day becoming common rumors in the region. (Lk 2:8-20)

For an insecure King this new development only threatened him the more. He had worked and managed to become the representing King over the Jewish people for the Roman Empire and now the reality of the Jewish prophecies, the talk of the city and now the Wise men’s intentions have come to haunt his self-ambitions. The news that the “King of the Jews” had been growing up amongst them is more than he could grasp.

This troubled Herod turned into a raging maniac that wanted to get rid of any threat to his kingship. It was after he deceived and lied to the wise men that he ordered every male child two years and younger to be killed around Bethlehem and the region in hopes of doing away with any future threat. (v.16) Herod was so self-adsorbed and fixed on doing whatever he wanted to do that he became obsessed in not allowing any other King to threaten his kingdom and therefore tried to destroy any hope for the people and the nation. He was the real life “Grinch” of the ages!

How often have you allowed your insecurities or selfishness to steal the hope of this season? Have you been troubled or threatened by the Lordship of Christ? The scripture says in Matt 6:24, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other”. We can’t serve King Jesus if we are living to our own pleasures. The “Rich Young Ruler” went away sad because he was unwilling to bow his knee to King Jesus. We are only troubled and agitated by the presence of the King when we refuse to live a surrendered life before Him. Jesus said, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me”. (Mk 8:34) It’s time to stop being the Grinch who is stealing others Christmas’s hope and surrender to Jesus’ Kingship and bow down and worship Him.

 

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Getting the Hindrances Out of your life

Felsengruppe Externsteine im Teutoburger Wald bei Horn-Bad Meinberg, Nordrhein-WestfalenEager to get on the way, we loaded the car and began our journey. The crisp Sunday morning couldn’t have been any more perfect. We were scheduled to minister in a church on the south side of Chicago that morning. So we got an early start for the trip from Milwaukee, to insure plenty of time to get there.

We had already gone a good distance when all of a sudden there was a loud noise followed by a lot of shaking. We pulled over to the side of the road only to find the tire was shredded to pieces. Surprisingly, it only took a few minutes to grab the spare and get back in the car heading for Chicago. This little setback seemed only to confirm to us that God had great plans in store for the meeting ahead.

Halfway to our destination, another loud noise came from the tire that I had just changed twenty miles earlier. The car began to shake in the same manner it did earlier. Once again, I pulled off the road and took a look at the tire, finding that it was also flat and ripped to shreds. Knowing that we were all out of spare tires, I began to get a little worked up and agitated. Yet, we began to feel more than ever that it was God’s will for us to be at that meeting. Even though it now looked as if something was hindering us. We began to be stirred up in our faith and began asking the Lord to move in the meeting. Before I could finish the prayer, a car pulled in behind us to help. To Continue reading

Hang On Help is on the Way

a0048-000162Most people would agree that the Welsh Revival was a revival of prayer. Often the meetings would go for hours without any type of teaching or singing, only with prayer and travail. God used a young man named Evan Roberts as His instrument, who was a true intercessor and a man of prayer.

The goal for his first meetings was to train and raise up intercessors for the coming revival. In his book, Revival, Winkie Pratney says, “A prominent member of a Newport Baptist Church declared that Evan Roberts had been praying for thirteen months for that wave of revival to come. He related how the young man was turned out of his lodgings by the landlady who thought that, in his enthusiasm, he was possessed or somewhat mad. He spent hours preaching and praying in his room until the lady became afraid of him and asked him to leave.”

God is not a respecter of persons, but is looking for anyone who will yield to a life of persistent prayer. (tweet)

Evan was persistent in prayer, knowing the key to revival was through a life totally surrendered to the Holy Spirit. At times it would seem his passion and persistence in prayer was unnatural. Yet, when you look at the results of one hundred thousand souls saved in six months, you can only rejoice for his obedience. God is not a respecter of persons, but is looking for anyone who will yield to a life of persistent prayer.

As we read the parable in Luke 18:1–8, we see Jesus teaching that we should always pray and not lose heart. He uses the illustration of a widow going before the judge to get justice from her adversary. Due to the widow’s continual persistence, the judge chose to grant her plea. For she was wearing him down through her persistent pleading. In verse 7, the Lord said, “Shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily.” God wants us to understand that He will answer the righteous who cry out to him continually and persistently! That’s a promise! There is a blessing to those who will not lose heart! Continue reading

Determined to Reach the Summit

605374893Have you ever tried to climb a mountain and felt as though your heart was going to pound through your chest? If you’re like me the answer is more times than I’d like to remember. One of those times was when I was returning back to my parent’s ranch, which is settled in the midst of the beautiful Rocky Mountains. I had decided to climb one of the peaks that I had conquered many times growing up. Whether it was self-deception or a shortage of oxygen that made me think I was in shape enough to start


The ultimate prize of every believer is to achieve the prize of the upward call of God, through Christ Jesus.    (tweet)


out in a full stride, I will never know. I guess you could say I was feeling rambunctious and over confident until moments later everything within me began to scream for me to quit! The more air I needed the less I was getting. My heart was thumping in my chest so loud I thought it would explode.

I quickly had an epiphany of the possible health trauma and looming defeat of not accomplishing the summit, so I adjusted from a sprint mentality to a marathon mindset. Taking one step at a time while focusing on shorter distant goals in front of Continue reading

Keeping the Ax Sharp

ax1

Have you ever come to the place in your life that you feel dry and dull? Maybe you have had an onslaught of work that seems to be piling up or your visiting family has gotten you to the point of exhaustion. Whatever the case might be you have found yourself totally spent and depleted. You have poured out so much that there isn’t one more ounce you can give. The cook’s statement, “it’s well done and on the verge of being burnt” describes you and where you seem to be.

I believe many find themselves in that familiar place more often than not.  In times of spiritual dryness, we need to be saturated in God. If we have become dry, it’s a good indication that we haven’t been soaking in the river that flows from God’s throne. In other words, when we become dull and to the point of not being effective for the cause of Christ, we need to get in the Lord’s presence.

William D. Boyd in his writing “I Work Too Hard” tells a story about a young man who approached the foreman of a logging crew and asked for a job. Impressed, the foreman exclaimed, “Start Monday!” Then Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday rolled by, and Thursday afternoon the foreman approached the young man and said, “You can pick up your paycheck on the way out today.” Startled, he replied, “I thought you paid on Friday.” “Normally we do,” answered the foreman, “but we’re letting you go today because you’ve fallen behind. Our daily felling charts show that you’ve dropped from first place on Monday to last on Wednesday.” “But I’m a hard worker,” the young man objected. “I arrive first, leave last, and even have worked through my coffee breaks!” The foreman, sensing the boy’s integrity, thought for a minute and then asked, “Have you been sharpening your ax?” The young man replied, “I’ve been working too hard to take the time.”

One of the enemy’s biggest strategies is getting us so busy that we never stop to sharpen our spiritual ax.  If our ax is dull then we use our own strength until we are so ineffective we burn out. Without a discipline of prayer in our lives we will become duller with the more work we do. Even when it is good righteous work that pleases God. Prayer is one of the very things that sharpens our spiritual edge.

Unfortunately, in trying times and being spiritually depleted, many people take a sabbatical, stopping the Lord’s work to gain rest and restoration. But if we look at the scripture it wasn’t until God was done with His work, creating the universe, that He stopped and rested, (Gen.2:2). When we become spiritually dull, we need to run to God in prayer and sit at His feet, soaking in the river of life not run away from Him. I do believe we can get off balance with our work unto the Lord, as we see Martha did in the Gospels. But let me also say stopping your work to do nothing is also wrong. It is essential that we spend time in His presence in prayer. If we are continuously basking in Him we will never get dull or burned out but will instead be fired up and sharp in the things of God. So let me leave you with this last statement. Don’t get so busy doing good works that you don’t have time to pray.

Raised in Prayer

praying with sonThe April sun broke through our kitchen window. I had sleep in my eyes. My siblings and I sluggishly forced ourselves to eat our morning oatmeal. There was nothing uncommon about this morning in 1967. It began like any other typical day. Until, the telephone pierced the silence and brought all of us to attention. My mother answered in her normal cheery voice, but immediately her tone changed. Her cheerfulness went to a devastating, “Oh my God” and from that moment my life changed forever.

Our daily priorities were obliterated by the news that my dad had just suffered a heart attack (that would later become fatal). As my mother hung up she insistently cried, “Everyone go and pray in the front room for your dad.” The sluggish sleepiness that just moments earlier was so prevalent vanished as we all began to cry out to the Lord. In the midst of disaster, we prayed!

Praying became a natural response in times of crises and need in our household, because it was instilled in us as a daily way of life. I can remember how my mother loved to take walks on our ranch in the beautiful Rocky Mountains to pray. On several occasions we would run up the trail to catch her only to find her deep in prayer. It was memories like this that had a profound impact on my life.

I believe some things must be caught not just taught. Joshua had evidently caught something as he followed Moses. The young Joshua saw the results of Moses’ communion with God. He talked to God and then walked in His power every day. Joshua caught the spirit of prayer and abiding in God’s presence. I love Exodus 33:11 where it says, “So the Lord spoke to Moses face-to-face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle.” Picture this scene: Moses returned to camp and to his responsibilities but Joshua stayed in the Lord’s presence. Evidently Joshua caught something; he understood that a life of intimate prayer and communion with God will result in a walk of power.

A lifestyle of prayer was birthed in my own life through being raised in the shadow of many great men and women of prayer. Even once I had left for college and then continuing down the road to marriage and raising a family; it seemed that God would always place me in the midst of men and women of prayer. Through colleges and seminaries rooted in prayer such as Christ for the Nations Institute and others. Speakers that taught and motivated us to minister out of the place of prayer, as well as, great Pastors such as Dr. Larry Lea, who were used to call a generation to pray. God was definitely orchestrating in me a lifestyle of prayer.

Over the years I have reflected on many of those days and memories and have been encouraged that I had caught an attitude of prayer to sustain me in and through my life. It has kept me through many trying times and has become a lifelong message of mine as well as a book I have published, “Igniting the Power of Prayer”. It is my desire to see God’s people live a life empowered through a life of prayer.

I Caught Something!

Image   The April sun broke through our kitchen window. I had sleep in my eyes. My siblings and I sluggishly forced ourselves to eat our morning oatmeal. There was nothing uncommon about this morning in 1967. It began like any other typical day. Until, the telephone pierced the silence and brought all of us to attention. My mother answered in her normal cheery voice, but immediately her tone changed. Her cheerfulness went to a devastating, “Oh my God” and from that moment my life changed forever.

Our daily priorities were obliterated by the news that my dad had just suffered a heart attack (that would later become fatal). As my mother hung up she insistently cried, “Everyone go and pray in the front room for your dad.” The sluggish sleepiness that just moments earlier was so prevalent vanished as we all began to cry out to the Lord. In the midst of disaster, we prayed!

Praying became a natural response in times of crises and need in our household, because it was instilled in us as a daily way of life. I can remember how my mother loved to take walks on our ranch in the beautiful Rocky Mountains to pray. On several occasions we would run up the trail to catch her only to find her deep in prayer. It was memories like this that had a profound impact on my life.

I believe some things must be caught not just taught. Joshua had evidently caught something as he followed Moses. The young Joshua saw the results of Moses’ communion with God. He talked to God and then walked in His power every day.  Joshua caught the spirit of prayer and abiding in God’s presence. I love Exodus 33:11 where it says, “So the Lord spoke to Moses face-to-face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle.” Picture this scene: Moses returned to camp and to his responsibilities but Joshua stayed in the Lord’s presence. Evidently Joshua caught something; he understood that a life of intimate prayer and communion with God will result in a walk of power.

A lifestyle of prayer was birthed in my own life through being raised in the shadow of many great men and women of prayer. Even once I had left for college and then continuing down the road to marriage and raising a family; it seemed that God would always place me in the midst of men and women of prayer. Through colleges and seminaries rooted in prayer such as Christ for the Nations Institute and others. Speakers that taught and motivated us to minister out of the place of prayer such as Dick Eastman, Mike Bickle, Bill Bright, as well as, great Pastors such as Dr. Larry Lea, who were used to call a generation to pray. God was definitely orchestrating in me a lifestyle of prayer.

Over the years I have reflected on many of those days and memories and have been encouraged that I had caught an attitude of prayer to sustain me in and through my life. It has kept me through many trying times and has become a lifelong message of mine as well as a book I have published, “Igniting the Power of Prayer”.  It is my desire to see God’s people live a life empowered through a life of prayer