Monday, December 27, 2004


Our faith is full of things that, from our worldly view, appear to be paradoxes. As we fast this week, we are going to pray about the few I could think of. Please send back any others you think of.

- We need to be broken in order to truly be whole.
- To really be self-serving, we must be selfless. (The greatest among you will be your servant. Matthew 23:11)
- If you cling to your treasures, you'll never have true wealth.
- We need to surrender to experience victory.
- To take the first step toward maturity, we must become like a child.
- We must die to ourselves in order to truly live.
- The most disarming weapon you can use on an enemy is love.
- You can speak volumes by listening.

Have a great week and a great fast. Celebrate responsibly this Friday.
Your brother,

Monday, December 20, 2004

Be still

I was watching Evan eat his cereal one morning and I was amazed by his concentration. It was very apparent that the cereal was the only thing on his mind. He is totally focused on getting the cereal on the spoon and then getting that spoon in his mouth. Nothing else is dividing his attention - his mind doesn't wander. I would really like my prayer time to be like that - with nothing else diverting my thoughts. But sadly, it often isn't. I start praying and the next thing I know, my mind is straying to something totally different - "what's next at work… when do the kids have off again… is tonight trash night…". It's easy to find a quiet place and to keep our body still but it's so hard to quiet the mind. It's hard to just converse with Him without continuing my natural multi-tasking tendency. Psalm 46:10a says "Be still, and know that I am God". I don't have any magic formula for "being still" but I do know that my wandering mind betrays self-reliance and a lack of God-reliance.

So this Wednesday, as we fast, we are praying that we learn how to "Be Still". It's the key to changing our prayer life from talking at Him to conversing with Him. It's what we need to hear His will… to feel His love… To rest in His strength.

Have a great week, a great fast.
Your brother,

Monday, December 6, 2004


In the course of sending out these messages, I've started noticing that as time goes on, these messages are getting flagged as spam by more and more receiving e-mail systems. Ironic… isn't it? Especially when you think about some of the trash e-mails you receive that are not flagged as spam. Yet… I'm not surprised. The bible tells us multiple times about the 180 degree difference between the World's ways and His ways. In our daily lives as information and messages are pumped at us at a rapid pace, we need to separate the wheat from the chaff. And, most importantly, we need to then know which pile is which in His eyes. Chances are, His pile is much smaller...

So this Wednesday, as we fast, let's pray for the discernment and Wisdom to recognize the real spam in our lives. And for more time in the word where we find the best instruction on both.
I hope you receive this and I hope it's not labeled as spam.

Have a great week and a great fast.
Your brother,

Sunday, November 7, 2004


"Don't you see that children are God's best gift? The fruit of the womb his generous legacy? Like a warrior's fistful of arrows are the children of a vigorous youth. Oh, how blessed are you parents, with your quivers full of children! Your enemies don't stand a chance against you; you'll sweep them right off your doorstep." Psalm 127:3-8

The translation above comes from the message. The Jews understood this passage to mean that sons are a blessing because they can defend their parents as witnesses in court. But looking deeper into this passage, what is it about children that arms us against our enemies and the evil one? A couple things come to mind (you can probably think of others).

1. Children give me a glimpse at what God's perfect unconditional love is like. I love my kids in a way that I didn't know I was capable of before I had kids. Yet it is still only a feeble caricature of the perfect love God has for all of us. My kids are my catalyst for learning selflessness.
2. Children give me a glimpse of my own stubbornness. As I discipline my children and try to train them up properly, I see the stubbornness and strong-will that exists in them… a resistance to the refining we as parents are trying to accomplish. Parenting would be a piece of cake if they learned and listened the first time :) God must think the same about me.
3. Children remind me of what it was like to be young. "And He said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." Mt 18:3. They are a model to us for our own re-birth.
4. Children can teach us a lot about ourselves. For example, when I come across a trait in one of my children that particularly annoys me, it eventually causes me to stop and do some self-searching. Nearly every time, the trait is a trait that I have as well and either consciously or unconsciously, I despise it in myself.

It's an interesting paradox that God uses the children we are training up as tools to train us up in His ways. And for those out there without your own children, all of the above applies to step-children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, kids in your Sunday school class, etc.

So this Wednesday, as we fast, we are praying for the children in our lives. That we see them as the gifts that they are and that we allow God to use them as powerful tools in our refining.

Have a great week and a great fast.
Your brother,

Monday, October 25, 2004

Love (10/25/04)

"…God is love…" 1 John 4:16.

Think about the cross. Think about the grace and mercy given to us on the cross. Think about the root of this grace and mercy - God's love for us. I don't know why He loves me. But knowing that He loves me is at the core of my faith. It allows me to set aside self and love Him back in my own imperfect way. And ultimately, isn't this what God wants from us? For us to love Him back - allowing His perfect love to shine through us?

Love is the root and the power behind all the so called "symptoms" of a Christian life. For example - God doesn't need us to give of our treasures - but if we love Him, we do. And He doesn't want us to give them unless they are given in love. Likewise, God doesn't need us to do good works. He's big enough to accomplish all the good works we could possibly do the rest of our days with just a wave of His finger. Yet if we love Him, we want to do good works (not out of compulsion but out of love and gratitude).

From the moment of salvation onward for the rest of our lives, we are learning about His love for us, accepting this love, and learning how to love Him back - so that His love can shine through us. Love is the very center of Christianity which is where it should be since God is love. I am in the kindergarten of love school being taught by the author of the subject - love itself.

"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres." 1 Corinthians 13:1-7.

So let's all fast and pray this Wednesday for love. For our own love of the Father. And that others who have not yet come to know His liberating love can come to meet Him at the cross.

Have a great week and a great fast.
Your brother,

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Unshakeable faith (10/17/04)

In the book of Daniel, I'm sure you've all read about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Read Daniel 3 to refresh your memory of the story. It's a short story but it portrays unshakable faith in a manner that is hard to comprehend. I want to have faith like these 3 men. I want to trust God even in the blackest periods of my life. I don't want to just have fair weather faith. So it raises the question - how do we go about getting this kind of faith - unshakable faith?

When we spend a lot of time with somebody, we normally start to see their flaws. Even more so if we live with that person (just ask my wife). Now think about the 12 who lived, ate, traveled, and spent enormous amounts of time with Jesus during His 3 year ministry. They had 3 years to find kinks and flaws. 3 years to poke holes in their own faith. Yet all these 12 saw was the perfection that is our Lord. Most of them died martyr's deaths defending their faith. Just thinking about the reality of this gives me faith. In short, realizing Jesus is who He said He is should make our faith unshakable. And spending our own time living, eating, walking with Him allows us to see the perfection that is our Lord.

In a similar way, if I believe the bible is truly the word of God, my faith should be unshakable. We talked a lot about this in last week's message. Once again, I think experience is the key. The more time we spend in the word, studying it, getting to know it, and living it, the more we realize its divine nature. I heard a pastor this week who put it this way - "the bible has more than 40 writers but it only has 1 author".

So this Wednesday, as we fast, let's spend some time walking with Him, praying for unshakable faith. Faith that's just as strong in the lowest lows as it is in the highest highs.

Have a great week and a great fast.
Your brother,

Sunday, October 10, 2004

The Word (10/10/04)

The Bible can be a big hang-up for unbelievers. They have trouble with the Christian notion that it is the actual word of God. If I can correctly recall my own skepticism prior to being saved, I felt that the bible was some crackpot man-made collection of self-serving fairy tales. The odd thing was that this feeling was very strong - and I had never even read the bible!! Now that I've read the bible and accepted Christ as my savior, I am starting to understand the magnitude of the miracle the bible is. This Wednesday as we fast and pray, we will reflect on this miracle and thank God for passing it on to us.

First, you have all probably heard the stats - 66 books written in 3 different languages over a period of 1500 years by 40+ authors. Yet the overall message is consistent throughout. The whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts. Only God could orchestrate such a thing.

Second, given the above, reflect on all the prophecy documented in the bible and the subsequent fulfillment of that prophecy. Again, only God could orchestrate such a thing.

Third, think about the timelessness of the word. It's as relevant today as it was in the 1st century and will continue to be into the future. Once again, truly a miracle.

Last, and perhaps most compelling, is the power the word has to change lives. You are probably a living example. I heard a sermon this past week in which the pastor was talking about how the word comforts the afflicted. Then he really caught my attention by stating the converse. He said "But equally important, think about how the word afflicts the comforted". Surely you've had convicting moments while reading the bible. Further, have you ever been reading a passage in the bible that you've read dozens of times before when suddenly, you comprehend in a way that takes you deeper than you've been before? You get a new clarity that you know came from God. A new clarity that only reaffirms and strengthens your faith in the divine inspiration of the word.

Have a great week and a great fast.
Your brother,

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Science (9/28/04)

The psalmist wrote "… the heavens declare Your glory …"

I was 31 before I really started taking a look at the bible and what it has to say. I wouldn't say my public education was intentionally atheistic but I came away from school with an ingrained notion that science and faith were tragically juxtaposed. And I don't think I'm alone. In fact there are millions of people out there with the same notion. It keeps them from exploring the claims of Jesus because they think it flies in the face of modern science. The problem here is that these same people only have a small understanding of modern science. Darwin's assumption that life rose from pond scum has been challenged and shown to be statistically impossible. In the book "The Case for Faith", the author speaks of a theology professor who says if he needs an atheist for a debate, he has to go to the philosophy department because the physics department all believes. Physicists are declaring an amazing design and underlying plan to the universe which obviously points to a designer. And they have only scratched the surface of understanding. I see a parallel in this to my own understanding of the word of God. I only understand a little of the bible and I've taken even less into my heart, but… as I learn more and internalize more, it only serves to strengthen my faith. Similarly, as science advances, it seems to be pointing directly to God. And this is something that the masses seem to not be aware of. In fact, the masses think we need to suspend belief for the sake of our faith. In reality, it is the masses who are suspending belief to go on without faith. … the wisdom of the world is foolishness in the eyes of the Lord.

So as we fast this Wednesday, let's pray for science. We know science is going to continue pointing to God.

Have a great week and a great fast.
Your brother,

Monday, September 20, 2004

Too busy (9/20/04)

A couple months back, a list member e-mailed me the following - "Do a topic about 'Busy' being a four letter word". It's a great topic and one I need a lot of help with. If you're like me, you're busier than you'd like to be. In fact, some of you are so busy that it's stressing you out to think about reading this whole message. You opened this up, saw the length of the topic, and thought "I don't have time for this"...

Luke 10:38 - 42 reads: As Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to Him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what He said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me! "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."

Jesus says "only one thing is needed". It's so easy to let the small details of life crowd out the one truly important thing. And, just like Martha, it's easy to fool ourselves into thinking those small details are the important thing. We need to slow down, converse on a regular basis with God, and let Him prioritize our day. I can't recall who said the following but I think it might have been Saint Francis - "I have so much to get done today, I better spend an extra hour in prayer this morning". The author of this quote knew that the Lord is the answer to widdling down the to-do list. And in some cases, it isn't the to-do list that is stealing our time. It may be the TV or the internet or some other thing in our lives that crowds out the only one thing that is needed.

So this week we are praying about our busy-ness. We are praying that we regularly turn to God for help with our priorities. Let's all slow down and fast this Wednesday as we pray about this topic.

Have a great week and a great fast.
your brother,

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Transformation (9/12/04)

I am beginning to like country music. For those of you who don't know me very well, this is actually a pretty big change. I was always more into harder rock. I'm not sure what brought on the transformation. It might be the wide open space out here... Or the abundance of country music stations... Or the fact that many of my classmates during sales training really liked country music. Whatever the reason, I now see my kids rolling their eyes the way I used to when my Dad and step-mom played country music. I guess perhaps they were right all along.

The topic for this week is transformation. When we accept Christ as our savior, our new found faith is not just something to be assimilated into our lifestyle. It is to be the core of our new, re-born lifestyle. Said another way, our salvation is not an add-on. It is a transformation. In Matthew 18:3, Jesus tells us to become like little children. We are to be transformed like a child learning for the first time all over again. And, it is to be a lifelong transformation. An emptying of self and a filling with Him. As we walk with Him... As we study the word... As we disciple others and are discipled by others… We realize new depths of His truth. We become more and more like a child with utter dependence on our Father. You've probably heard a pastor say "Nothing in my hand I bring… Simply to the cross I cling". I want to learn how to cling to the cross in all situations.

Look at Luke 5:1-11. You'll see that Peter thought he had to be transformed before following Christ (you can probably see the parallel in many modern religions). Also, look at Luke 18:18-25. Here you'll see that the rich young ruler wanted his salvation to be an add-on to his current lifestyle.

A couple questions to think about this Wednesday as you fast and pray about transformation:

1. Has your salvation been a transformation?
2. If so, does your walk continue to be a transformation?
3. Is your transformation leading you down the path of utter dependence… Emptying yourself of your self and replacing it with Him?
4. Are you starting to like country music :-)

On second thought, don't give #4 too much thought.

Have a great week and a great fast.
your brother,

Monday, September 6, 2004

Addiction (9/6/04)

1 Corinthians 10:13-14 reads

"No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry."

Giving in to temptation leads to idolatry which is another term for addiction. Do you know someone who is addicted to something? Are you addicted to something (perhaps more than 1 thing)? There are the addictions we commonly think of such as drugs or alcohol. But things like money, shopping, poor eating habits, Television, sex, pornography, or even attention are also addictions. An addiction is an idol. It is something we worship and it carries a certain amount of control over our lives. God gives us the direction that we are to have no idols before Him. He is to be our one and only addiction. But how do we go about getting rid of the addictions? I heard a sermon last week in which the pastor was emphasizing that the process is to "decide and lean".

Decide - The first step is deciding that we want to be rid of the addiction. In this step, we need to recognize the addiction and decide we don't want to be a slave to it anymore. It's important that we don't wait until we feel like doing it. Our feelings are probably what put us in bondage in the first place. Remember, we are not tempted beyond what we can bear.

Lean - Once we've resolved to be rid of it, we need to lean on Him to carry it out. He may put others in our lives to help. After all, the verse above says our temptations and idols are common to man. Others have been in the same boat before. Likewise, through the process, God may be preparing you to be the empathetic guide for others in the same boat. He tends to take our weaknesses and turn them into blessings for others.

This Wednesday, let's pray for our own addictions as well as the addictions of those around us. Let's pray to decide to be rid of these addictions and to let Him help us do it.

Have a great week and a great fast.
Your brother,

Monday, August 16, 2004

Comfort (8/16/04)

I was sitting at the Albuquerque airport waiting to board a flight for Phoenix on Sunday afternoon. I was trying to decide what topic to write about this week. The problem was, there were 4 or 5 half-baked topics floating around in my head and I wasn't making much headway. In retrospect, I often look back on situations like this and wonder why I spin my wheels for so long before thinking to pray. As I was sitting there spinning my wheels (and not praying), I noticed a young woman sitting with her back to me. It appeared that she was crying but I couldn't tell since her head was turned the other way. Then she turned her head and removed all doubt - she was definitely crying about something. I noticed the discomfort it was bringing to several people sitting around her. Two guys working on laptops were sitting diagonal from her. They took occasional glances in her direction but made a point of avoiding eye contact. They buried themselves a little deeper in their laptops and pretended not to notice. New people arriving at the gate would eye up seats around her but then divert to other seats when they saw her condition. A string of seats directly across from her remained noticeably empty. Then a couple with 2 small boys came up and claimed the row of seats. The couple ignored the crying woman. The 2 small boys were a different story. In their beautiful innocence, they stared at the crying woman. This eventually made the parents uncomfortable enough to get up and move. I was sitting there through the whole thing trying to think of an unintrusive way of going up and chatting with her. I was thinking of saying something like "You're obviously upset. I'm not the best listener in the world but if you'd like to talk…". But the opportunity passed. It turns out that she was flying out of the gate next door and she boarded before I acted. Psalm 69:20 says:

"Scorn has broken my heart and has left me helpless; I looked for sympathy, but there was none, for comforters, but I found none."

As Christians, we are naturally equipped to be comforters. We are plugged in to the one true source of hope - which is the greatest comfort of all. God calls us to share the source of our hope and comfort. I don't know if this woman was looking for comfort. She may have even been put off by some strange man offering help. We are conditioned to assume strangers have selfish motives for their actions. It's an obvious hurdle but it is also a help. The help is the added impact when the person realizes there are no selfish motives.

There are many people out there in need of comfort. Many of them are not as obvious as the woman at the airport - they put on the happy veneer even though the inside is torn up. A couple things to think about if you find yourself in a position of providing comfort:

1. Just do it. I sat around thinking of the right thing to say for so long that opportunity passed. It can be very uncomfortable going up to a stranger when there is a whole bunch of people doing the opposite.
2. Be authentic.
3. Listen. Don't have an agenda. Sometimes it's hard to just sit back and listen to someone share their grief - especially if they are an unbeliever and the answer to their problem seems so obvious to us. This is when it's important to remember what it was like before we were saved.

So this Wednesday we are praying for all those who need comfort. That if they haven't already, they will find the true source of deep lasting comfort. And that as His servants, we will be comforters to those around us who need it.
Have a great week and a great fast.
Your brother,

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Education (8/10/04)

If you recall, last week's message was about a young mother I met on a flight from Phoenix to Philadelphia. She actually had her high school report card with her which she proudly shared with me.

In keeping with this, our lives are to be about continuous education. Jesus said "Follow Me". He was commanding us to let Him teach us - to learn and grow from His example. So what is it that we are learning about?

1. God - He wants us to learn more and more about His love, grace, patience, mercy, kindness, etc. every day.
2. Ourselves - He challenges us to look inside at the good and the bad. He wants us to discover our gifts and limitations - to use both as a blessing to others.
3. Others - God uses those around us to help us learn about ourselves. And vice versa. Sometimes it's much easier for a friend to recognize strengths and weaknesses you may be blind to. We need to be open to both hearing these from a friend and sharing these with a friend... whichever the case may be.

So as we fast this Wednesday, we are praying for our continuing education. We are praying that we spend regular time with our text book (the bible) and that we are regularly conversing with the Teacher (God) so that we continue to learn more about Him, ourselves, and those around us.

Have a great week and a great fast.
Your brother,

Tuesday, August 3, 2004

Seeing each other the way God sees us (8/3/04)

On one of my recent flights, I was seated next to a young woman with her 2 year old daughter on her lap. Being as I have a little guy at home who will soon be 2, it was easy to start up a conversation. It wasn't long before the young woman shared that she was entering her senior year of high school. She looked young to me but I was shocked to realize how young (I suppose I'm now officially old enough to not be able to tell how old young people are :). It quickly occurred to me that this girl became pregnant as a 9th grader. This particularly struck me because my oldest is entering 9th grade this year. At this point in a conversation, sometimes our non-verbal communication can say 100 times more than our words. A look of shock, a smile that fades, an appearance of discomfort, or even an obvious attempt to go on to some other topic. I don't think I did any of these but I very well may have. If I did, the girl did not let on that she noticed. We talked for quite some time (it's a long flight from Phoenix to Philadelphia). She talked freely about mistakes she had made in the past. She felt she was now on the right path with school and relationships. She had direction and purpose. She even proudly shared her report card with me and pointed out the bad times and turn-around that was recorded in her grade history. She pointed to some bad grades and said "I wasn't such a good kid back then".

I remember an old Bob Myers that might have immediately judged this girl upon finding out she was such a young mom. "Oh how awful that is…" "What a shame…" "You're one of those??...". In our smallness, we categorize, classify, and judge people to make it simple for ourselves (and perhaps to make ourselves feel bigger). The fact is, we are all so wonderfully complicated. The only one who really knows us through and through is Him. He knows me better than I know me. Yet He still loves me. He loves each of us so much that we can't even fathom His kind of love. He doesn't see us as the mistakes we've made - so why do we see each other that way. He sees us as the finished work that He is doing. We make mistakes and learn and grow in the process.

As we fast this Wednesday, let's pray that we try to look at each other the way God looks at each of us. As a wonderful work in progress.

Have a great week and a great fast.
Your brother,

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Hinds' feet (7/20/04)

A few months ago, I heard a sermon on the following topic. It was very interesting and struck me as a good fit for our fasting and prayer topic.

Psalm 18:33 in the NIV reads:

"He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights."

However, the King James translation reads:

"He maketh my feet like hinds' feet, and setteth me upon my high places."

So the question becomes: Is a "hind" a deer or is there more to it than that. In the sermon I listened to, the speaker was talking about horses and how they get labeled as having hinds' feet. Essentially, the term means that the rear feet track exactly where the front feet step. This is particularly useful to horsemen who are crossing precarious terrain. I looked up the term "hinds feet" on Google and got the following definition:

A hind is a mother deer that lives in the mountains. The hind is one of the most sure footed animals in the world. When she goes up the side of the mountain she uses her front feet to test for loose stones on the slope. When she finds firm ground she then places her back feet in the exact spot that her front feet were placed. If she did not test the rocky incline with her front feet, the loose stones would cause her to slip and fall down the mountain.

This week we are praying that we become like hinds' feet. We are praying that we (the rear feet) land exactly where Jesus (the front feet) leads. We are praying that we follow the example of Christ and land on His sure footing. Too often I find myself following the wrong things. Those wrong things are normally either my own pride or the ways of the world. Both lead to the loose rocky stones that only He can help us avoid. I think about this a lot and I've come to the following conclusion (you may not agree): It isn't easy but it is simple.

It isn't easy for me to look to Him in all things… but He is always there and He is the only answer. It isn't easy for me to look to His wisdom when all around me the world is screaming the exact opposite… but He is always there and He is the only answer. To quote Pastor Craig from this weekend: "As Christians, we realize we have a terminal illness called sin. That's why we want to cling so closely to the Great Physician." So this week we are praying that we follow in his footsteps. That we go exactly where he leads us. That we stop trying to "heal" ourselves.

Have a great week and a great fast.
Your brother,

Monday, June 21, 2004

Evangelism (6/21/04)

Last week, for a couple days, I was training the person who will be picking up my old responsibilities (Carol). During this time, the conversation rolled around to religion and it turns out that Carol and her immediate family are best defined as agnostic. We talked for a long time about it and she was voicing a lot of the same objections, questions, and criticisms that I had before I was saved. To quote Carol at one point in the conversation - "I just can't stand how self-righteous a lot of these Christians seem". It was tough to just listen and not defend but I think it was the right thing to do. I told her that I remember those same thoughts/feelings well and I suggested some books that helped me answer/address some of my own issues back then. I'm going to send her the books and pray that she reads them.

So the topic this week is evangelism. We are praying for evangelism throughout the world. We are also praying for ourselves - that we obey Christ and spread the word. A couple quick points:

1. If you're at all like me, you probably think it's fairly hard to bring up the topic of your faith in a casual conversation. I'm finding it gets easier the more I do it. So let's just do it.
2. Even harder than bringing it up is saying the right things after the conversation starts. It's hard to not come across as self-righteous or defensive because we do already believe. Just try to remember what it was like when you were on the other side. Listen and empathize.
3. It's important to follow-up and follow through. I need to get Carol the books I mentioned and I need to check in with her in a little while.

Have a great week and a great fast.
Your brother,

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Prayer (6/15/04)

Being a part of this list has taught me so much. Probably more than I even know. But I'd have to say the biggest thing is that it has strengthened my prayer life immensely.

I've been thinking about that a lot… trying to understand why fasting does such a great job of strengthening prayer. The conclusion I came to is that it hinges on our selfish nature. The fact that I'm selfish at heart is what makes fasting work for me. If I start a normal day out saying "today I'm going to pray for missionaries in Haiti" I will probably remember to do so 3 or 4 times throughout the day. If I intended on praying for a week, the prayer times would slowly decrease over the week. By the last day, Haiti may not even come to mind at all. However, as soon as I link the prayer topic to my stomach, the dynamic changes dramatically. On a day of fasting, during the first few hours I might pray 2 or 3 times. By the end of the day, my stomach is reminding me to pray every half hour. Imagine what it would be like to fast and pray for a topic for a whole week.

Developing a strong prayer life and strong reliance on prayer is a critical part of our relationship with Christ. It takes that personal suffering to really put the fire under my prayer life. The second part of 2 Corinthians 12:10 says "… for when I am weak, then I am strong".

So this week we are praying for our fast. As we fast this Wednesday and allow hunger to hit us in that personal way, let's pray for our prayer lives. Let's pray that this group and this fast teaches us what it is meant to teach us - how to rely on prayer in all things.

Have a great week and a great fast.
Your brother,

Monday, May 31, 2004

Fellowship (5/31/04)

Two years ago, I went on what I consider to be the best vacation I’ve ever been on. We went to a rustic cabin complex on a lake in New York’s Adirondacks. The place is affectionately known as Woodchuck. There was fishing, boating, swimming, a diving board, a rope swing, volleyball, hiking, horseshoes, and on and on. But more than anything else, there was fellowship. We went on vacation as a group of 4 families. There were 7 adults and 12 children. Each family had at least 1 other family they didn’t know prior to the vacation. Yet, by the end of the week, we were all as close as life long friends. I chose this topic because I'm camping with the Woodchuck gang this weekend. By the time you read this, I'm certain I will have had another wonderful weekend of fellowship with these families.

Fellowship is that thing that keeps getting threatened by how busy we are. By definition, it involves a commitment of time. It’s all about making new friendships and deepening existing ones. It’s sharing each others joys and sorrows – caring for each other and being cared for in return. In short, it’s about really getting to know each other. Every time I take the time to truly get to know someone new, I am reminded of how amazing God is. He creates us so complex and unique, yet still so very much alike.

This Wednesday, let’s pray for our own fellowship. That we would take the time to fellowship and that we would be authentic and caring in our fellowship. Let’s pray that we don’t allow competition, pride, stereotypes, gossip, and all the other fellowship stealers to get in our way. Let’s pray that we truly get to know and care about our "neighbors". Last but certainly not least, let’s do the same in our fellowship with the Lord. Share everything with Him just like you would a good friend.

Have a great week and a great fast.
Your brother,

Monday, May 24, 2004

Joy (5/24/04)

Get a mental image of the noise 5 giggling pre-teen girls can make. Now multiply that by 10 and you might be in the ballpark. Friday night, my daughter had 4 friends sleep over for her 10th birthday party. The girls had an absolute blast… I'm still tired. I had been thinking of doing "Joy" as a fasting and prayer topic for some time now. Watching the girls and the fun they had Friday night really solidified the "Joy" idea.

I took the girls to the festival at Christopher Dock Friday night. If you ever have doubts about what it means to live in the moment, just watch a group of kids on a moon bounce. There is no worry… no guilt… no remorse… no regrets. Just a bunch of bouncing and laughing. As a father, it gives me great joy to watch my children enjoying themselves. Don't you think our Father is the same?

If you do a search for the word "Joy" in the bible, you'll find 300 references for "Joy", "Enjoy", or other variations. "Joy" is one of the fruits of the spirit. It's an awesome gift from God. But what does it mean? Let's look at the word "enjoy"? It means to take pleasure in. Said another way - it means to find the joy in something. Yet we so often find a way to squeeze out joy… to overlook the positive… to not live in the moment.

As we fast this Wednesday and pray for Joy, let's think about a couple things. Is there something that is currently stealing your own joy? Perhaps it's worry, doubt, fear, guilt, anger, etc. If so, what will it take to turn that over to God and let him replace it with joy? The joy that comes from being free. Perhaps you don't have a problem with joy. Maybe it's someone in your life who needs to do this. Pray for them this Wednesday. When we are full of the Lord, we are full of joy.

John 12:46 says: "I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness." God is big enough to handle all the things that steal our joy. Let's allow him to handle those joy-stealers and start enjoying the light.

Have a great week and a great fast.
Your brother,

Monday, May 17, 2004

Our gifts (5/17/04)

As we fast this Wednesday, let's pray for our gifts. God has uniquely gifted each one of us. He has given us these gifts for a purpose that is also uniquely designed by Him for us. Ephesians 2:10 says "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Do you cherish the gifts God has given you? Or do you fall into some of the traps I'm familiar with:

- covet gifts I don't possess.
- take credit for my gifts as if I was responsible for them - Kind of like treating the gift as an entitlement
- use my gifts only to serve my own selfish desires.

Ultimately, we need to recognize that our gifts are really a test from God. The parable of the talents shows us this (Matthew 25:14-30). It's a test to see if we can handle these blessings from God in a Christ-like way. Ultimately, it's a heart test - to see if it's in the right place. Some of us are tested more than others. Luke 12:48 points out "But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked."

So this week as we pray for our gifts, let's pray that we first take the time to discover what they are. That we don't covet gifts we don't have. That our gifts don't feed our own pride and become our idol. That we seek God's will for our gifts and discover the purposes He has designed.

Have a great week and a great fast.
Your brother,

Monday, May 10, 2004

Our covetous nature (5/10/04)

The last of the 10 commandments reads:

"You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor." Exodus 20:17

This commandment takes some of the earlier commandments a step farther - straight to the heart. It takes the 7th commandment about committing adultery to the level of "thinking" about committing adultery.

Take an honest assessment of yourself.
Do you covet materialistic things - wealth, a big house, a nice car?
How about ego things - a title, recognition at work, respect from your peers?
Is it more of a lustful or emotional thing?
Does it happen in an unlikely setting? We can covet as we sit in church Sunday morning (I'd like to be able to sing like that... I wish I could afford nice clothes like those…).

Coveting is about wanting things we don't have and assuming we would be happier or better off if we have them. It's about selfish discontentment - feeding something that is not healthy - feeding an idol - such as greed or pride. It's like saying "Your grace is not sufficient for me. I need something else to make me really happy."

If you find yourself coveting something, look at someone who has that thing and ask yourself "Is that person done wanting things? Was that the icing on the cake that finally made that person happy?" Rockefeller was once asked "How much money is enough", to which he replied "just a little bit more".

So what are we praying for this Wednesday? Well, we are praying about our covetous nature. That our passions are selfless ones that are in line with God's will.

Have a great week and a great fast.
Your brother,

Monday, May 3, 2004

Grieving (5/3/04)

About 8:30pm last Wednesday, I was sitting in the living room playing Uno with my 2 oldest children (Bennett and Abby). The phone rang and a friend of Abby's asked her what was going on out in front of our house. It was a little shocking to realize that we were totally unaware there had been a car accident directly in front of our house. Abby's friend knew because they had to detour around the area. We went out on our porch and saw police tape running through our front yard. It was readily apparent that a bicyclist had been hit by a minivan. By Thursday evening, we had learned that the bicyclist was the 15 year old boy that used to live right next to us. We had also learned that he died from his injuries. The incident was apparently an accident. The boy rode his bike right out in front of the van seemingly not aware of the danger. He entered the road from behind a parked car so it was too late for the driver to stop.

I've been thinking about this incident on and off since it happened. There are constant reminders out front. There is spray paint on the road from the post-accident investigation. There is a curb-side candle memorial that has been tended by the neighborhood the last several nights. I can't even imagine what it would feel like to lose one of my children.

This week, our fasting and prayer topic will focus on grief and the grieving process. The family and friends of the 15 year old boy are now grieving. So is the unfortunate driver and his family. Typically, you don't have to look far to find someone who is grieving some sort of loss. In fact, you may be grieving some loss as you read this. As we fast this Wednesday, let's pray for all those people out there who are grieving. Let's pray that we can be a comfort to them. And for those lost grievers out there that don't yet know Christ, let's pray that they would be found and would come to know the hope and certainty of His grace.

Have a great week and a great fast.
Your brother,

Monday, April 26, 2004

The line (4/26/04)

The fasting and prayer topic for this Wednesday involves elements of worry, control, responsibility, and ultimately - trust in God. You may be thinking that sounds like a strange topic but after you read the e-mail exchange below, you'll understand better. This e-maill exchange was sent to me by a friend I've had for many years now. He is on our fasting and prayer list. This e-mail conversation happened between him and one of his close friends.

One side note - the names have been changed to protect the sterile :-)

Fred: Barney, can I have the name of the doctor that did your "snip snip" surgery?
Barney: So, are you finally willing to do it or is Wilma finally willing to let you? I highly recommend this guy. Good skill and good Christian. (doctor's info was attached).
Fred: I think Wilma is now fine with the idea.
Barney: I know that it is not 100% effective. But, it sure is nice not worrying about it anymore.
Fred: Can you not worry knowing it isn't 100% effective?
Barney: You know me. I can not worry about a lot of things. (my own note on this - "Barney" is very good at optimism and not worrying about the future).
Fred: Yea, but another kid at this point in my life, THAT makes me worry.
Barney: Yea, I know, but God's in control. I kind of feel that I have done my part and do not need to do anymore. If He wants me to have another kid, He can. But, He will have to work for it. I'm not suppose to worry, and He will not give me more than I can handle. Then again, I can handle all things through Christ so that is not much comfort… :)
Fred: You still wear seatbelts don't you?
Barney: That's exactly the point. I don't have a roll cage or wear a helmet. I don't even have air bags. It's that whole walking a line thing. You just got to do what you're suppose to and not worry about the rest. What you're suppose to do and what I am suppose to do are probably two different things. I don't view 0,1,2,3, or more methods of birth control to be wrong. The potential dangers I see related to this topic are fear, worry, disobedience, and control. Its another one of those tough lines to walk between trust and control.

It really is walking a line. If we fall on the control side, we run the risk of working too hard to get to our goals without stopping to make sure they are God's goals for us. The other side is to use "trusting in God" as an excuse for inaction. You've probably heard the story of the man who lost his job. He sat around the house doing nothing. His attitude was "God will find me a job if he wants me to work".

So, whatever you want to call this topic, please pray for it this Wednesday.

Have a great week and a great fast.
Your brother,

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Marriages (4/13/04)

Does your marriage need prayer? Do you know a marriage that needs prayer? Go back and answer "yes" to both if you didn't already. The fact is, every marriage needs prayer. It isn't easy bringing two selfish, prideful, imperfect people together into perfect harmony for ever and ever… Disagreements occur - money, children, parenting, sex, division of labor, and on and on. And that's just inside the house. Think of all the negative influences outside the house. It's hard to keep a biblical view of marriage when the worldly view can be so different.

John 15:5 says "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."

In marriage, two of these branches become one. Yet, they need to stay connected to the vine in order to live and grow.

A couple quick questions to ponder:
1. Are you expecting your spouse to fulfill all your needs?
2. Are you loving your spouse the way you want to be loved?
3. Is Christ the vine of your marriage?

Even if you're not married, please pray this Wednesday for all those who are married. Let's pray that marriages be full of Acceptance, flexibility, forgiveness, appreciation, affection, and joy. Let's pray for healing in marriages that need it.

Have a great week and a great fast.
Your brother,

Monday, April 5, 2004

Our reactions (4/5/04)

In our daily lives, we are "wronged" by others. Co-workers, our spouse, our kids, friends, the guy in traffic, complete strangers, etc. It's our reactions to these "wrongs" that we are praying for this Wednesday. To be more specific, the topic for this week is - praying before we react. Said another way - making prayer our first reaction.

On a personal note, I need this topic as bad as anyone. Overall, I'm a pretty laid-back person. However, my instant reaction is not always "turn the other cheek". For instance, I've been thinking about this topic since last Wednesday and I was even discussing it with a couple of you at service yesterday. As such, you would think it would be top-of-mind for me. Yet, yesterday afternoon, I became quite angry with my oldest son when he failed to call after sleeping over at a friends house. It was very surreal - verbally I was letting him have it while inside, a part of me was saying "you know, you really should stop and pray about this before you react".

I'm just guessing you can all think of similar situations. Situations where, if you could go back and do it again, you would react very differently. A while back, I heard a pastor put it this way - "We all carry around a bucket of water in one hand and a bucket of feul in the other. When someone throws a flame at us, it's our choice as to which bucket we throw on it." If we pause for a second and say a quick prayer, we will make the right decision.

Have a great week and a great fast.
Your brother,

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Childlike Faith (3/30/04)

Matthew 18:1-4 reads "At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven."

We are to come to him with childlike faith. But what does that mean? Perhaps all of the following and maybe even more:

1. Verse 4 says to be humble like a child - no pretenses that come with age. So this topic requires us to pray for humility.

2. There are many references in the bible to the followers of Jesus as children of God. God is our Father. Just like a baby trusts in their parents, we are to trust in this perfect parent we have. Yet, if you're at all like me, you occasionally have doubts. Mark 9:17-29 talks of a man who brings his son to Jesus to be healed. When Jesus recognizes that the man has wavering faith, the man replies "I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief". So this week we are praying that our faith and trust continues to become more sure.

3. When we are "born again" we are to literally be just that - born again. We are to shed the old ways and learn brand new ways. We aren't just supposed to take in this new revelation and assimilate it with all of our past knowledge. We are to learn all over again - in the world but not of the world. Our God has great mysteries he wants to reveal to us. Matthew 11:25 says "At that time Jesus said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children."

So this Wednesday, we are praying that our faith be childlike. That our faith is humble, certain, and built upon Jesus (not colored by our worldly knowledge).

Have a great week and a great fast.
Your brother,

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Our relationship with Jesus (3/23/04)

You're having guests over to your house - people you don't know very well. What's the first thing on your mind? If you're anything like me, the answer might be something like "Quick!! We need to straighten this place up!!" We want everything looking nice to make a good first impression. By the time we're done it doesn't look anything like a house where 3 kids live. Heaven forbid the guests start thinking we actually "dwell" in the house :)

Now think about when really close friends come over. People who perhaps come to your house several times a week. No longer do you worry. You've already become comfortable with them and don't mind them seeing how you really live.

Now think about your relationship with Jesus. Many Christians keep Jesus in the first category. However, he really wants to be our closest friend. He already knows the dirty rooms in the house, the pieces that are falling apart that should be rebuilt from scratch, the dark, dingy corners that you're trying to cleverly hide from plain view. Shouldn't we treat him like that special friend who knows us so well? He knows things about your "house" that you don't even know.

So this Wednesday, we are praying for our relationship with Christ. That it becomes deeper, more open, and more authentic. While we're at it, let's pray for the relationships of all our brothers and sisters as well.

Have a great week and a great fast.
Your brother,

Tuesday, March 9, 2004

The armor (3/9/04)

Ephesians 6:10-20 talks about putting on the armor of God:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

This Wednesday we are praying that we continue to learn how to put on this armor.

As Christians, we have a tendency to look at these verses and think we need to get ourselves on guard. Perhaps even isolate ourselves from the big bad evil world. The problem with this is that this same big bad evil stuff is also inside each of us. We can't run away from ourselves. We need to look upward instead of inward as we put verses like this into practice.

Take a close look at the attributes of the armor in the verses. It doesn't take long to realize Jesus is the armor. He is truth... He is righteousness... He is the gospel of peace… and so on. When we are putting on the armor, we are putting on Jesus. All of the characteristics of Jesus. Said another way - to put on the armor, we must be a disciple. We can't "stand firm" on our own but we can with Him. We can't walk unharmed through the temptations of the world alone but with Him, we are insulated. In short - Less of us, more of Him.

Pray that we learn to rely on him in ALL things.

Romans 8:31b - If God is for us, who can be against us?

Have a great week and a great fast.
Your brother,

Monday, February 23, 2004

Adoration (2/23/04)

I’ve got a 17 month old son named Evan. He is significantly younger than our other two children. In fact, he is our first child born after we were saved. I watch Evan grow and I look at his personality forming and I can’t help but think of the Christian analogies. He can be so defiant, very strong-willed and stubborn, selfish to the core, and more so than either of our previous children, oblivious to danger. Yet I love him so much. I can be so much like this little boy. So defiant, selfish, stubborn, reckless… I praise God for His infinite patience with me and His gentle instruction. This Wednesday we are adoring God. We will spend the whole day adoring our maker. He is so worthy of our Adoration. May we never forget that.

Have a great week and a great fast.
Your brother,

Monday, February 16, 2004

Perspective (2/16/04)

You've probably heard about the new Mel Gibson movie being released next week. It's all about the final hours of Christ. If you keep your eyes on the news at all, you probably also know that the movie is creating quite a stir. Newsweek ran a story claiming the movie:

"is reviving one of the most explosive questions ever. What history tells us about Jesus' last hours, the world in which he lived, anti-Semitism, Scripture and the nature of faith itself."

Of particular interest is the anti-Semitism concept. The worldly view looks at the passion and comes to the conclusion that Christians might blame Jews for the death of Jesus. I am struck by the foolishness of the argument. In my mind, it makes 2 big errors in logic:

1. It assumes that man could control the situation. As if the Jewish leadership that brought the charges against Jesus really had control of the situation. As Christians, we know God had decided that Jesus would die on the cross - no matter what human actions took place. God was, is, and always will be in control.
2. It looks at the passion as a tragic loss. Nothing could be further from the truth. It was the greatest gift of love ever given to mankind - nothing was lost and everything was gained. Jesus paid for our sins (past, present, and future), conquered death, and lives within us today.

All in all, it's an example of how worldly wisdom can be so opposite from heavenly wisdom. The perspectives are so different. The Passion should stir up pro-God thoughts - not anti-Semitic thoughts. 1 Corinthians 1: 17-21 says

For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel--not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate." Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.

So this week, let's pray for perspective. That our own perspective grows to be more heavenly each day. We are Christians but we are still constantly tempted and enticed by worldly wisdom. Also, pray that believers and non-believers out there with the worldly perspective will come to see the foolishness of their "wisdom". That they will re-commit to Christ or discover Him for the first time.

Have a great week and a great fast.
Your brother,

Monday, February 9, 2004

Living in the moment (2/9/04)

We had a visiting pastor at church this past week. In his sermon, he was referring to Luke 7:11-17 where Jesus heals the widow's son.

Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out--the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, "Don't cry." Then he went up and touched the coffin, and those carrying it stood still. He said, "Young man, I say to you, get up!" The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother. They were all filled with awe and praised God. "A great prophet has appeared among us," they said. "God has come to help his people." This news about Jesus spread throughout Judea and the surrounding country.

Some key things the pastor pointed out about this passage involved how observant and compassionate Jesus was. It was a great message and if you missed it, you should get a copy of the sermon.

But this week, we are talking about living in the moment. The pastor didn't talk specifically about this but it struck me as I was listening. In this story and many others in the bible, it's clear that Jesus lives in the moment. We as Christians are called to do the same. But not in a selfish way like many modern people. We are called to live in the moment the selfless way that Jesus did - "the first shall be last". When we accept Christ as our savior, God forgives our sins. We are washed clean so there is no need to lament and mourn our past sins and mistakes. If God forgave us, shouldn't we forgive ourselves? The past is past - so to speak. Likewise, our future is in God's hands - where it should be. When we worry about the future, we are saying "God, I'm not sure You're going to make this all come out the way it should". In reality, it will turn out exactly the way it should but we might be asked to grow along the way.

So this week, let's pray for ourselves and our brothers and sisters - that we stay focused on the here and now. That we don't lament the past or dread the future. That we continue to learn how to live in the moment for Him.

Have a great week and a great fast.
Your brother,

Monday, February 2, 2004

So hard to be humble (2/2/04)

Some of you might remember the song below. I pulled the lyrics off the internet. It's a humorous look at pride taken to the point of delusion.

Pride is a big issue in our lives. It affects our decisions, emotions, actions, reactions, etc. Pride can really get in the way of this humble spirit God wants me to have :-) And it's so easy to be proud of things that we shouldn't be proud of. There are Christians who are proud they are saved - proud that they 'get it'. Christians proud of the person they've become since they've been saved - who think they're better than the un-saved. Proud of the gifts God has given them - like they had anything to do with it. Proud of their fiscal responsibility, their willingness to tithe, the amount of service they do… The list goes on and on.

I find it easy to write about this topic because I fall into all these pride traps on a routine basis. You name it - I've probably been proud of it. In the past, I've even been proud to hear "That was a good fasting and prayer topic message".

This week, let's pray for humility. A humble spirit. Let's pray for all our brothers and sisters. Everyone needs help in this area. I heard one pastor put it this way - "Some people need to pray about pride… The rest need to pray for honesty so they can pray about pride also".

Have a great week and a great fast.
Your brother,

Oh Lord it's hard to be humble
When you're perfect in every way
I can't wait to look in the mirror
Cuz I get better lookin each day

To know me is to love me
I must be a hell of a man
Oh Lord it's hard to be humble
But I'm doin' the best that I can

I used to have a girlfriend
But I guess she just couldn't compete
With all these love starved women
Who keep clamoring at my feet

Well I probably could find me another
But I guess they're all in awe of me
Who cares I never get lonesome
Cuz I treasure my own company

Oh Lord it's hard to be humble
When you're perfect in every way
I can't wait to look in the mirror
Cuz I get better lookin each day

To know me is to love me
I must be a hell of a man
Oh Lord it's hard to be humble
But I'm doin the best that I can

I guess you could say I am a loner
A cowboy all locked up and proud
Well I could have lots of friends if I wanted
But then I wouldn't stand out in a crowd

Some folks say that I'm egotistical
Hell I don't even know what that means
I guess it has something to do with the way
That I fill out my skin tight blue jeans

Monday, January 19, 2004

Patience (1/19/04)

I got up extra early this morning because I wanted to get to work to knock out a couple pressing matters. But Evan (the 16 month old) threw up on his outfit as we were walking out the door. That delayed me by 15 minutes. I had to take Abby (the 9 year old) to my sister's house this morning since there was no school today. The roads were quite icy so drive times delayed me another 25 minutes or so. As I arrived at work, a few feet from my office, I started to get this "something's missing…" feeling. It hit me. I didn't have my laptop computer. I knew where it was. Sitting next to the recliner in our living room where I left it after checking email Saturday night. I had to drive back home and get it which means I didn't actually get to my desk until 10:00. So much for the early start. Judging by how frustrated I felt, I need to pray for this week's topic as earnestly as anybody.

You often hear Christians joke "whatever you do, don't pray for patience." But even if we don't pray for something, God knows if we need work in that area. And if we know we lack patience, and yet, refuse to ask God for it, then we probably also need to work on honesty and denial as well. We may as well come clean to the One who knows all our dirt. The only one we fool is ourselves. So this week, we are praying for patience. Patience to deal with cases where our plans and reality don't align. Patience that's grounded in faith in Jesus and the good plan God has for us. Patience that sticks out to those unbelievers around us as something they would like to know better.

Have a great week and a great fast.
Your brother,

Monday, January 12, 2004

Honesty (1/12/04)

A couple weeks ago, I heard a sermon that really stuck in my mind. The pastor was talking about the "rotten old man" that lived deep down inside him. Since being saved 35 years ago, this pastor has made the mistake on numerous occasions of thinking that that "rotten old man" was dead. What he has come to realize is that the "rotten old man" is still there and he only needs a little prodding, a little back-sliding to come back to the surface. In fact, he characterized the "rotten old man" as meaner than ever from the years of neglect and years of the holy spirit keeping the "rotten old man" suppressed.

This brings us to this week's topic. The fasting and prayer topic for this week is "Honesty". Sure, we want to be people of integrity always speaking the truth (in love). But I think what the "rotten old man" reveals is that the person we lie to the most is ourselves. We tell ourselves we are no longer that way. We let down our guard to our sin nature. We start to develop pride in how "good" we've become since being saved. The enemy knows this and uses it to his advantage. As such, we need to honestly take a deep look inside ourselves. What weaknesses are in there that need to be avoided? What's in there that we should turn over to an accountability partner so they can help keep us from telling these little lies to ourselves? What is it that our pride keeps letting us avoid? Are we becoming prideful in things that only God should take the glory in?
Let's pray this Wednesday for honesty in ourselves and our Christian sisters and brothers. The honesty that's needed to truly come to the end of ourselves.

Have a great week and a great fast.
Your brother,

Monday, January 5, 2004

Our Leaders (1/5/04)

You often hear about groups that pray for our leaders. I know of a fasting and prayer group that has organized to make sure there are people fasting and praying for the president every day of the year. I think it's appropriate that we take some time to pray for the leaders in our lives as well. That brings me to a question I've been tossing around for the last couple weeks. Who are the leaders in our lives? There are the obvious examples such as our government leaders (both domestic and foreign). There are our pastors at church, our bosses at work, the teachers of our children, etc. etc. But there are also more subtle leaders in each of our lives. People that we look to as mentors - formally or informally. People we try to model our behavior after because they seem to model the concept of "what would Jesus do". Some of my own mentors don't even know they are my mentors. There are men at my church who I look to as models of evangelism. Others who are models of love and fellowship. Still others are models of encouragement. The list goes on and on. As I write this, I'm making a mental commitment to let these men know they are inspirations to me and they are helping to lead me down the narrow path.

So this week, let's pray for our obvious leaders as well as our not-so-obvious leaders. Let's pray that they stay grounded in God's will. That God does good work through them. And that in the process, they give the glory back to God.

Have a great week and a great fast.
Your brother,