The Convenience of Instant everything has Brought a slow death to Tenacious Prayer

a1 InstantA society surrounded by the convenience of instant everything, brings a slow death to the tenacious spirit. Many people want prayers answered before their lips stop moving, unfortunately, many times, it doesn’t happen that way. The scriptures teach us in Colossians 4:2, “to continue earnestly in prayer,” and in Romans 12:12, it says “continuing steadfastly in prayer.” We are exhorted to be persistent in our prayer life. Jesus shares a parable in Luke 18:1-8, driving home the point of persistent prayer. It says, “Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’” Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily…” When I was young, I was told that if I asked or prayed for something more than once I would be


Many people want prayers answered before their lips stop moving, unfortunately, many times, it doesn’t happen that way


praying in unbelief. That’s totally contrary to scripture! The continual knocking or coming to the judge brought the widow’s answer. The Bible does say in James 1:6-8, that we must have faith when we pray, but being continuously in prayer doesn’t mean you have unbelief. On the contrary, I think it indicates that you do have faith in God. Your action of continual asking shows you believe He will answer. I like what Marilyn Hickey says, “Prayers are like seeds that are watered daily. Different ones take different lengths of time to sprout and to grow.” If you think about the farmer’s process, he plants his seed then waters it day after day until he sees a sprout breaking through the soil. The farmer is like the diligent believer who plants his seed and then through continual prayers of faith waters it until the answer breaks through and comes to pass. Keeping with this analogy, if praying continually is wrong then the farmer watering his seed daily would also be wrong. Let’s look at I Kings 18:41-45. We see Elijah telling Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of an abundance of rain.” Then Elijah went to the top of Mt. Carmel to pray. That’s when this story gets very interesting. After Elijah prayed, he sent


“Prayers are like seeds that are watered daily. Different ones take different lengths of time to sprout and to grow.”


his servant to look for rain clouds. Six times his servant checked and didn’t see anything, Elijah continued in prayer. The scriptures say, “Then it came to pass the seventh time that he said, ‘There is a cloud, as small as a man’s hand, rising out of the sea!’ The downpour from that small cloud broke three and a half years of drought. This all happened because Elijah wouldn’t quit praying—he had faith to be steadfast in prayer. Living a life of prayer will always be a life of adventure and power. Ephesians 6:18 tells us, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication … with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.” In other words be tenacious and persistent in prayer. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see the answer to your prayers immediately. Keep knocking on Heaven’s door.

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Was that a Speed Bump or Thanksgiving?

Exploring Santa Barbara's Santa Rita HillsIt was obvious that the young mother was being stretched beyond her limit. The crowded grocery store aisles, her long list of needed items and her child testing her the whole way, looked to be a melt down in the making. Then as if sent from heaven an elderly produce man knelt down and smiled as he gave the young child a beautiful orange. The boy’s mother asked, “What do you say to the nice man?” The little boy thought and handed the orange back and said, “Peel it”! I know that wasn’t exactly what the mother was looking for but it does reveal an attitude that many in our society hold whether young or old. We are becoming an ungrateful people. We don’t stop to be thankful but want more.

Paul admonishes the believers in 1Thes 5:18 “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” That really can’t be anymore clearer! God’s will for you and I as followers of Jesus is to be people of gratitude. I am not a Greek


I choose to not allow Thanksgiving to become nothing more than a speed bump between Halloween and Christmas!       (tweet)


scholar but that word “everything” pretty much means what it says, in all things. I don’t see much wiggle room there at all. So through the tough situations in your life, as well as, the good times we are encouraged to be thankful. Wow! Now that’s hard to swallow.

One man has said that our country’s national holiday has become nothing more than a speed bump between Halloween and Christmas. No sooner do the stores get done selling candy, costumes and carved pumpkins that they immediately start promoting the Christmas season. Many can’t even get through a family dinner before they are rushing out to get in line for “Black Friday”, a term that has become known


Stop the madness! Where there was once prayer, gratitude and family bonding, has now been taken over by shoving, selfishness and getting ahead of others.    (tweet)


for the big sales on Friday after Thanksgiving Day. Unfortunately, the beast of marketing and business has now crossed the line of a sacred day of thankfulness and family to start the sales when it’s time to eat. Where there was once prayer, gratitude Continue reading

Not Just Thanksgiving but a Life of Thanksliving

I heard a sThankfulness - sunsettory about a little boy who was handed an orange by a man trying to be kind. The boy’s mother asked, “What do you say to the nice man?” The little boy thought and handed the orange back and said, “Peel it.”

As rude as this boy in the story seems to be, what’s more shocking is that this attitude is prevalent throughout our society. Everywhere we turn we can see it filtering through this great nation of ours. We have raised a generation of self-absorbed people that are blinded to everything other than their desires and needs. We have forgotten the simple act of gratitude.

We have made our own worlds that revolve around us! We have set ourselves as kings of our own kingdoms! It’s nothing more than a “Me, Myself and I” society that we are slipping into. The scripture says in 1 Tim. 3:1-2 that in the last days men will be lovers of themselves and unthankful along with other selfish attributes. Through our actions we have nurtured and raised a generation of unthankful people.

I am reminded of the story of the ten lepers that stood afar off as Jesus entered a certain village. They lifted their voices so that Jesus could hear them and cried out saying “have mercy on us!” Jesus responded by telling them to go and show themselves to the priest, who had the final decision in pronouncing them clean or defiled.

As the lepers went in obedience to His words, the very disease that had kept them estranged from society incredibly dries up and instantly they are healed. Now if this was the end of the story it would be a great lesson on obedience and God’s mercy, but it goes even deeper. The story continues with the scene of only one of the ten returning to give thanks for the miracle from God. The author points out that this healed man was not a Jew but a Samaritan. He wasn’t educated in the traditions and things of God. Yet he knew enough to be eternally grateful for the life changing miracle he was given. Many times those who profess to be Christians are out-done by unbelievers.

Where were the other nine? They all had been unfairly handicapped by this demoralizing disease. They had all been separated from society and their families and dreams. Yet, when they were radically healed and set free by a merciful loving God that heard and responded to their cries. The majority of them didn’t even have the time to come and say, “Thank You”.

It’s time we ourselves develop a habit of gratitude towards God and be obedient to the scripture, “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1Thes 5:18 NKJ).  We can become a person of gratitude by being thankful in three simple areas.  First, by being thankful for everything He has done in our lives. Secondly, being thankful for everything He is doing in our lives and thirdly, walking in faith by being thankful for everything He is going to do in our lives.

When we become grateful in these areas it will develop a heart of gratitude in us. Once we learn to be thankful to God we will see that same attitude of thanksgiving and gratitude flow out to and through others.

It truly is time to stop the madness of self-centeredness and develop a lifestyle of thankfulness, not just thanksgiving but Thanksliving!

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

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