Keeping the Ax Sharp

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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.

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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

We Can Do It If We Will

haystack  “In 1806 a group of students at Williams College in Massachusetts sought refuge from a sudden rainstorm in a haystack.  As the rain beat down, they turned their retreat into a prayer meeting.  They asked God to use their lives.  As they prayed, their faith rose to believe God could use them significantly to fulfill Christ’s Great Commission.  When the rain subsided, they left with the rallying cry, “We can do it if we will!” This unobtrusive meeting went down in history as the Haystack Prayer Meeting.  Today this spontaneous prayer time is seen as the beginning of the mission movement in America.  As a result, the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions was birthed.”[i]

Through a simple small non-organized prayer meeting the world would never be the same.  God used a group of young people that had a relationship with Him to shake the world through missions. Not because of who they were or even that they deserved anything.  It was all because they chose to allow God’s heart to be vocalized through prayer. That small group came in agreement with God’s will and because of it changed the world!

If the believers of God would only understand there is an incredible power when we come in agreement with heaven through our prayers. We could virtually change our surroundings and our world. The question is, will we no matter what the circumstances are find a place and time and begin to pray prayers that will make a difference?  Let us also make our rallying cry as did that small group many years ago

“We Can do it if we will!”

 

[i] David Shibley, A Force In The Earth, Florida: Creation House, 1989 P. 85

There’s Life in the Vine!

Image    There is a definite difference between the life that is separated unto prayer and the life that has separated from prayer. One has the power of God flowing through it and the other is powerless. We must understand that Jesus is the vine and we are only the branches. (Jn. 15:5). As long as we stay connected to the life-source then we will walk in His power.

Paul encouraged the Christians in Ephesus with these words: “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might,” (Eph. 6:10). We walk in His power as long as we are in fellowship and communion with Him. I remember my former pastor, telling the church that some things must be caught not just taught. I believe Joshua caught something as he followed Moses.

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 will result in a walk of power.

We cannot survive without being grafted into the vine. Joshua was committed in making sure that he was grafted into the vine. It was a daily choice he made. Just as it must be a daily choice in our life to make sure we are connected into the life source of the vine.  As we come into the place of prayer and communion with God, we are strengthening our connection in the vine!

The Harvest is Ready…So Just Do It!

          

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 The flashing police lights and news cameras drew our attention across the street. The assembling crowd was all gazing to the other side of the yellow police tape.  People stood in awe as they covered and took away a body, apparently a victim of a mugging.  We were shocked and dumbfounded at what we were just exposed to. 

            My three younger girls, my wife and I were coming to speak at a church in Houston, Texas.  We had never been to this church before.  So after arriving in town, we began to look for its location.  To our amazement and literal shock we had come upon this crime scene, which ended up being right across the street from where we were scheduled to speak.  At that moment, words could not express the feelings that rushed through my very being.  All I could think about through the night was eternity!  The thought of how totally lost people are without Christ and how close eternity really is to each one of us. 

            This experience has stuck with me through the years.  It has given me an eternity awareness that just cannot be shaken.  The fact is there are people dying and going to hell every day around us.  We sit in our stained glass churches every Sunday, hearing the Word of God.  Yet, we leave and never change our society with the message of Christ.  Like we read in Matt. 9:37, “…The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.”  The harvest of souls is ready to be harvested.  They are ripe and in their prime to be picked.  Yet, it says that the laborers are what is holding up or hindering this great harvest, for they are few in number!

  • How many people do you know that need to hear the Gospel?  
  •  Today, Will you choose to be a part of God’s great plan of salvation?   
  •  Will you not only PRAY for the laborers to be released into the harvest field, but be one of the laborers? 

 It’s time to stop talking about reaching people for Christ and just do it.  We go to conferences about soul winning.  We listen to great messages about reaching the lost for Jesus.  We pray about our friends and family coming to know the Lord. But…. We don’t act on it.   

     It’s time to shake off the dust of complacency and be about the God’s business!      

 

Make a change…Just Do It!

Salt is to Be Poured Out

salt shakers                      Years ago revival flooded through the countryside of New England, where the total population was just around 300,000 at that time.  Through the preaching of such renowned men as Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield from England and others, thousands were transformed by the power of God.  During the two years between 1740 and 1742, there were estimations of 25,000 to 50,000 people in the New England states who came into the kingdom of God.  This radically changed the whole atmosphere of the society.  The moral fiber of society was changed for the better.  Benjamin Franklin said, “…it seemed as if all the world was growing religious; one could not walk through a town in an evening without hearing psalms sung in different families in every street.”[i]   He said this of the results of one of Whitefield’s meetings. That poses an interesting question that we should ask. If someone walked down the streets of your neighborhood would they be as impacted as Benjamin Franklin?

            In our day can we say that there is a noticeable difference when it comes to the church and the world? If we turn to and look at the scriptures we can quickly see that there is supposed to be a radical difference. The church by biblical definition is supposed to have a direct impact on its surroundings.

            The Body of Christ or the church must become effective salt.  Then and only then will we begin to change communities and surroundings for the better.  Either we will be effective or we will be defective.  How often do we feel the Church is being trampled under society’s feet? Maybe it’s because we have lost our edge or our effectiveness.  If we are doing what we’re supposed to be doing, we will affect our surroundings.  To understand this better, let us look at the uses of salt.  To begin with, we know salt flavors things and makes things have a better taste.  Secondly, salt is a preservative.  It keeps things from rotting and going bad.  Thirdly, salt melts the hardness of the cold ice.  Fourth, it has been used to keep weeds from growing in certain areas.  When we are revived by His spirit, the Church will be seasoning to society, a preservative in society, melting the hardness and coldness of society and keeping unwanted weeds from growing in its midst. 

  •  Today will you be salt that is effective or salt that needs to be thrown out?
  •  God has placed us in various places to effect it for His kingdom and purposes.
  •  The job you’re at, whether a school, a bank or a construction site, it is all for a reason.

             When Jesus spoke to His followers in Matt. 5:13 we see where it says, “You are the salt of the earth…”. Jesus was saying that they as followers of His must penetrate and impact their society. He wasn’t saying hide and be ineffective. No, not at all! That’s a defective believer! Therefore as followers of Jesus we need to use our talents, hobbies and everything else we possess to further God’s plan for His kingdom. This is to impact our surrounding with the beauty of His holiness. Each on of us has a certain hobby or something that they love to do…right?  And you gravitate to others with the same like mindedness as yourself. In the same manner many that don’t know the Lord but have the same passions are drawn to you. So, use that as a open door to impact their lives with the Gospel.  Therefore USE IT!

 Today choose to be SALT!


[i] Winkie Pratney, Revival, Pa. Whitaker House, p.112