Those who pray for you

This post is a bit different (and later) than usual. But recent events have had me thinking about the power of prayer. You and I may be small people in the grand scheme of things, but we can never know the full impact of our prayers for others. You may be the only person offering prayers for your neighbor. And those prayers can be all the difference in someone's life.

I once heard a story about a preacher. I don't remember which one, but I do remember the basic story. This preacher was in the hospital for a surgical procedure and had a spiritual dream. In the dream, he went to heaven and ended up in a room of crowns. Jesus was there to choose the crown for the preacher. There were all kinds, from simple earthen creations to ornate diadems.

After a few moments The Lord settled on two crowns. One was rather simple, made of silver with no gems or special decoration. The other was a beautiful crown of gold that was delicately carved, and laden with diamonds and other precious jewels. Jesus asked the preacher which crown he thought belonged to him.

The preacher was very famous and had led countless souls to The Lord. So he was eying the crown of gold and gems.

Before he could answer, Jesus handed him the simple crown. Trying to hide his disappointment, he thanked his Lord. Knowing the preacher's heart, Jesus asked what troubled him.

The preacher said, “Lord, I have preached Your Gospel all over the world and led countless souls to You. I am grateful to be received into your glory, but I must know – to whom does that beautiful gold crown belong?”

Jesus answered, “It belongs to your grandmother, the woman who never stopped praying for you.”

Wow! Even as just a dream or modern parable, that is a powerful thought. Think of the people who prayed for Billy Graham, Saint John Paul II, Mother Theresa, you, me. Don't ever minimize the power of prayer, either yours or others for you. The Bible says that the prayers of a righteous man avail much. So pray, and don't hesitate to ask others to pray for you.

For my part, I'm thankful for the faithful prayers of my mom, Cortney, Marie and countless others who's prayers have had and continue to make all the difference in my life.


ABCs of Surrender – Emotions

E is for emotions. Lord, today I surrender my emotions to You. You created us to be emotional beings, but not to be controlled by those emotions. You are my Rock, and the core of being finds strength and hope in You alone. While I may feel strongly and have deep emotional responses to the events and people around me, I will not be led by the leash of my emotions. Instead, I will remain grounded in Your truth. I will look to You, the Author and Finisher of my faith and a firm foundation. I will love when I don't feel like it, hope when things look bleak and pray with confidence knowing that I will not be moved as long as I cling to You.

Follow Me

After a period of Lenten reflection and solemnity, we are now in one of the most joyous seasons of the church year. We focus on our Risen Lord, and in a few weeks will celebrate Pentecost – the moment that the Holy Spirit came in power.

So how does this season relate to our quest for holiness. While Jesus walked this earth He told his disciples to be perfect as the Father is perfect. But they had the living example of perfection in their midst. How do we of the 21st century follow such a command?

The message that Jesus gave to his apostles was always: “Follow Me.” Those were among the first and last words He spoke to Peter.

At the end of the Gospel of John (Ch. 21), Jesus has a conversation with Peter where He asks three times if Peter loves Him. By the end, Peter is almost offended or hurt that Jesus continues to question His love and loyalty. Peter, who not so long ago, denied Christ three times. Peter, who just recently felt the sorrow of his own failure.

John's account of this event is insightful because at the end, Peter assures Jesus that He loves Him. Jesus gives a somewhat ominous warning that this love will take Peter to a place he doesn't want to go (his own death as a martyr). It gets interesting when Peter sees another apostle and essentially asks “What about him?”

I think the response Jesus gives Peter is the response He gives to us all, “Follow Me.” There's a bit more to it, Jesus basically tells Peter that it's not his concern what happens to anyone else. Peter's commission is to follow Jesus. Period.

Our commission, mine and yours, is the same. Follow Jesus.

It doesn't matter to you how He uses me, and it doesn't matter to me how He uses you. I pray, that for my friends, some of that will overlap and we can share in the joy of service to our Lord. But at the end of the day, at the end of my life, at the end of this world, what matters is: did I follow Him. Did I live a life that will cause Him to say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

That question is, or should be, the motivating force behind every action, every decision, every choice. Is it pleasing to my Savior?

Daily Acts of Discipline – Speech

One of the more difficult acts of discipline for me is holding my tongue. The most difficult, is holding my tongue in my car. I’ve learned to temper my speech at work and in most social settings, but when I’m alone or with friends, it’s not so easy. And when I’m in my car, forget about it. When someone cuts me off in traffic or goes slower than I think they should, it’s so tempting to hurl a curse at them. I realize that in those situations they probably aren’t even aware, so it’s tempting to think that it’s not really hurting anyone. But wouldn’t it be better to send up a blessing or say nothing at all? And even if it doesn’t hurt them. It hurts me. If I cannot let the Holy Spirit guide my tongue in such a small thing, how can I expect my willful soul to submit in larger things?

My mom always told me that if I couldn’t say anything nice, I shouldn’t say anything at all. There is true godly wisdom in that teaching. Today, I will strive to take it one step further and bless those who curse me, or even just those who irritate me.

ABC’s of Surrender: Desires

D is for desires. Lord, today I surrender my desires to you. I'm a human, there are many desires of my heart. Some are godly, some are not, some are neutral. I surrender all of them to You. I trust You. When things go my way. When they don't. I will trust in You. I let go of my desires and cling to Your will. Help me make my desires fall in line with Your desires for me.

In His Hands

Psalm 31 has long been one of my favorites. The first half of the first verse says it all.

In You, O Lord, I put my trust.

What if you began everyday with that thought? What if you faced every problem with that frame of mind? How would it change your perspective?

It changes mine…

…if I apply it. When I'm facing a particularly difficult problem, especially if it's something I've faced before or something that drags out for a period of time, it can be easy to forget to start with trust in Him, my Rock and my Fortress.

In our lives we deal with issues everyday. Sometimes it's just a little issue, sometimes it's a big mess. We routinely rely on our experience and understanding to figure out a solution. After a while, we can begin to take that for granted and give ourselves a pat on the back for being wise or good. I hope we are those things. Those are good things. But they don't negate our need for God's wisdom and counsel.

When I get too caught up in my ability to handle things, I can forget to put ALL my trust in Him. Not just my trust for spiritual things. Not just my trust for personal things or easy things or really hard things. My trust for ALL things.

When I get too caught up in my ability to handle things, I find myself at verse 22.

For I said in my haste, I am cut off from before Your eyes.

I run around crying out for God's help wondering why He's not listening or telling me what to do. When in reality, He's waiting or me to stop trying to do it all myself and remember where I began.

In You, O Lord, I put my trust.

When I find that place, then I can rejoice with the psalmist and say to myself and to you:

Be of good courage,
And He will strengthen your heart,
All you who hope in the Lord. (v.24)

Daily Acts of Discipline

Small things

Growing up, I thought of temptation as overt. I thought that Satan would tempt me to do big things. These days some of the biggest temptations I face are seemingly tiny and insignificant. Previously I’ve mentioned that I use flossing me teeth as both an act of discipline and of worship and prayer. (Oh no, she’s writing a out flossing again! Stick with me, there’s a kernel of truth in here).

Sometimes, when I’ve stayed up to late, my mind will tell me to skip it and just go to bed. What’s the big deal? It’s just one night, right? Wrong. The truth is that, it’s not too late, and if it is, it’s because I chose to watch one more episode, read one more chapter or play one more game. So if I can read one more chapter, I can also take two minutes to floss my teeth. Why is this such a big deal to me? Because, this one little thing is an act of discipline that calls my will and flesh into line. The enemy knows that if he can derail me from this one little thing, it will be all the more difficult for me to show discipline in bigger things of more eternal importance. So, I choose to remind myself that it just takes two minutes to brush my teeth, and if I have time for that, I have time to spend two more minutes flossing, and two more minutes washing my face. Those few minutes of lost sleep are an investment in my spiritual training. Every time I crucify my flesh-with this minutiae, that spiritual muscle gets a little bit stronger, and I get a little bit better at resisting the next, bigger temptation.

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