Making Time to Pray

Making Time to Pray

But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.                   1 Peter 4:7

When faced with a big decision or fraught with a new diagnosis, we can start to pray like we never prayed before.  But why wait to pray?  There is much to pray for every day.

Between work and play – we need to make time to pray.

In the verse above, the word “sober” has to do with clear thinking.  Then the word “watch” is used and says we are to “watch unto prayer.”  It means to abstain from wine.  Abstaining from alcohol helps keep the mind clear.  It is a word that when applied indicates having clear attention.  While alcohol clouds the mind, we must be clear headed to pay attention to prayer. The Lord wants us to have a clear mind and level-headed thinking so we can give time to praying.

Most American Christians are too distracted to make time to pray.  For example:

Recode.net says American spend 5 hours watching TV every day. In comparison:  Media and Methods reports the average American spends only five hours per year reading books.”

The A.C. Nielson Co says that “TV viewing began to rise in the 1960’s. It is approximately the same point in time that the Standard Achievement Test scores began to decline. This time frame is significant because the first generation to cut its teeth on TV began taking SATs in the early 1960’s.

Spin.com says Americans listen to 4 hours of music each day.

In many ways, we are “entertained out of our minds!”  Our minds are “clouded- full of entertainment.”  No wonder we do not take the time to pray like we should.  The stats above do not even factor small screen time (cellphones, tablets, etc).

Be sure to “Watch” unto prayer today.  Decisive action and a definite plan to pause and pray can be taken in your life today.

Make some time to pray – today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We All Start Somewhere

We all Start Somewhere

As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:                  1 Peter 2:2

John Maxwell tells this astute story: “A group of tourists visiting a picturesque village walked by an old man sitting beside a fence. In a rather patronizing way, one tourist asked him, “Were any great men born in this village?” The old man replied, “Nope, only babies.”

Whether you have been saved 4 days, 4 months, 4 years, or 44 years, the Lord has called you to be a “Growing Christian.”  We all start at the same place in our relationship to God.  When we are “born again,” at the moment of our believing in the Gospel, we start a new, spiritual life.

The Bible is what new and old Christians are nurtured with.  The more we read and apply, hear and change, study and implement, the more we grow to be like Jesus.  None of us are born “great.”  We are born to serve a “great God!”

One sad truth in Christianity is that some believers never grow up spiritually.  This has been a problem since the start of the church.  The letters to the churches that Paul wrote were in many cases to help the young churches to grow up in their faith. From lustful desires to hateful relationships, the early church needed to grow.

When we do not desire the Word like a baby desires milk, we do not grow like we should.  Examples include:

  • Continuing to be Stubborn in Spirit.
  • Consistently Rebellious in Heart.
  • Contentment in Judging Others.
  • Complaining to Feel Better.
  • Character Assignations of Others.
  • Charging into a Talk with Anger.

Brethren, if you are behaving like the points above, you have some areas to grow up in.  It could be that you think yourself to have “arrived” but you may not give as much value or as much of a lasting testimony to the work of God in your life.  Your behavior is reflecting who you really are.  Your “being” is still in childhood. Feeding on the desires of the flesh and the pride of life need to be exchanged for feeding on the Word of God.  You can do better than being a “Big Baby.”  God can help you grow out of spiritual infanthood.

You got to eat. We must consistently read, study, hear, and apply the Bible to our lives. Decide to grow up in Jesus by consuming more of the Word today.

Salvation is the start to a lifetime of growing and becoming more like Jesus.  Don’t’ just start.  Start and finish.  We do not “arrive” until we get to Heaven. Give grace to others along the way.  Decide to be more like Jesus. Then. Be. Like. Him.

 

 

 

 

Scripture Shaping

Scripture Shaping

I have always found amusing the scenario the Sadducees connived in their minds and spoke to Jesus about.  This story they dream up is funny in several ways.  Read on.

The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him, Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother: Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh. And last of all the woman died also. Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her. Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.”  Matthew 22:23-29

After the second or third brother married her, you would think the next brother in line would hesitate or wonder, “What is she feeding him?”  The next brother would ask: “What did she do to him?” or “how did he die?”  or “Does she have a knife or poison?”  You would think that by the time the seventh brother is to be married to her, he would be running the other direction.  How old is this woman?  How old are the brothers?  It is a statistically unlikely story.  It is one they made up in an effort to trap Jesus in His teachings.

The Sadducees were the some of the most wealthy and ultra-educated people of Israel.  They had a conceit and arrogance about them.  They denied anything supernatural such as: the resurrection, rewards for doing good, and even denied that angels existed.  They were frequently in quarrels with the Pharisees who believed in the supernatural.   The Sadducees adhered to the Law of Moses while the Pharisees added oral tradition to the Laws of Moses.

After Jesus took to task the Pharisees and said: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s” the Sadducees thought they could trip Jesus up with their unusual question about marriage and “who’s” wife will this woman be in Heaven?”

Interesting to note:  These religious people did not believe in the resurrection.  They did not believe in Heaven or Hell.  They are trying to get Jesus to say something that would confirm their faulty belief system.  If they could get Jesus to say there is no Heaven or Hell, that could help them undermine His ministry.

Notice how Jesus responds in Mathew 22:29-33.  Jesus says that in the resurrection and by extension – in Heaven, people are not given to each other in marriage.  Think about how the church is the bride of Christ.  There is no need for individual marriage in Heaven like we need on earth for a help meet and “completion.”  Jesus continues to talk about the resurrection and says that “God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”  These Sadducees were “astonished” at His doctrine.  And rightly so.  Jesus is always right.

Before His explanation of their contrived dilemma – Jesus says in verse 29: “Ye do err, now knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.”   They asked a foolish question.  Their pre-suppositions were faulty.  Their thinking on the matter was not right.  An entire paradigm for life was incorrect because they did not know the Bible.

Could it be that as modern Christians we do err, not knowing the Scriptures?  Look in your own life to the times when you made a bad choice.  Could it be that you are so proud to not even admit a wrong choice?  When the bad choices were made and the outcome was not what you hoped and the problem grew worse – could it have been because you did not know the Scriptures?

Our minds need the refinement of God’s Word.  This is an everyday process to let the Word of God develop your mind.  Let the lines of the Bible write on and guide the thoughts of your mind.

We could call this the “Scripture Shaping” of the mind.  How many times have you reasoned in your mind selfishly instead of Scripturally?  How many times have you tried to beat a bad habit or a sinful habit and failed? Our minds and desires err when we do not know the Scripture.

These affluent, educated, and socialized men could not think right.  We can have similar issues today.

Self-justification, ill-rationalization, and incoherent thinking are directly impacted and informed by what we know – or do not know.  I encourage you to let the Scriptures Shape your thinking. We err when we do not know the Scriptures.

 

 

 

 

The “Gold Rush” in Space

The “Gold Rush” in Space

“If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.”  Psalm 139:8

Just look around this globe of the earth and peer up into the massive universe.  Tunnel under the ground or dive into the watery depths.  Every-where that man looks, God can be found.  The fingerprint of God and the handiwork of the Lord is seen the world over.

Some people just do not see God in spite of all their looking.  This interesting news report illustrates how mankind is searching for riches in outer space.  Check this out:

“In March (2017), Goldman Sachs announced to investors that a single asteroid containing $25 billion to $50 billion of platinum could be mined by a spacecraft costing only $2.6 billion—less than a third of what has been invested in Uber. ‘While the psychological barrier to mining asteroids is high,’ the Goldman report concludes, ‘the actual financial and technological barriers are far lower.’ In April, NASA selected Trans Astronautica Corp., an aerospace company based in Lake View Terrace, Calif., for $3.25 million in technology study grants. Among TransAstra’s NASA-approved projects: an asteroid-hunting telescope whose stated mission is “to start a gold rush in space.’”   Fox News, May 23, 2017

Mankind has some wild dreams and with recent technology the dreams have grown even larger.  To mine in space for the “gold” of platinum would seem to be motivated by greed.  A small investment compared to a high return is the goal of the Goldman Sachs plan.

I doubt that this mining operation will become very advanced.  What it makes me think of is how that people see the stars, planets, and asteroid as places to make a profit. Perhaps money is their god.  The Bible says the heavens were made to praise the Lord. While tending to sheep, David was one to look up into the night sky.  David said in Psalm 19:1 “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.”

While people will begin to fight over “who owns” space and unveil plans on how they will get the money off the asteroids, we know that God is on that asteroid. If people could only see Him for the “gold” they are searching for.

 

 

 

 

A Call to Ministry is a Big Deal

A Call to Ministry is a Big Deal

“So he departed thence, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth: and Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle upon him. And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow thee. And he said unto him, Go back again: for what have I done to thee?  And he returned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave unto the people, and they did eat. Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him.”  1 Kings 19:19-21

Have you ever been to an ordination council?  Have you observed the questions that season pastors and preachers asked the candidate for ordination in the “interrogation?”  It is fascinating and I love being on the ordination councils for these men.  It is a good challenge to read the doctrinal statements and attempt to encourage and add insight to the candidate that will help him in future ministry.  What an honor it is to recognize the calling of God on a man for the ministry.

In 1 Kings 19, Elijah runs away to a cave from the hateful Queen Jezebel.  After the Lord meets with Elijah, God encourages him that he is not alone that there are many others who are faithful to serve the Lord.  God then gives Elijah an “assistant prophet” named Elisha.

Elisha comes from a wealthy family with many oxen.  He is a hard worker, plowing in the family fields when Elijah meets him the first time.  From there – Elisha follows and helps Elijah everywhere, “ministering” to him.  I am thankful for the assistants the Lord has given me over the years.  I need help in ministry!

When Elisha is called by God to assist Elijah, he asks if he could go home and explain it to his family.  There are many men in ministry today whose families do not understand.  “How could he leave the business world, his hometown, or the family farm?” are common questions.  Elisha kisses his mother and father goodbye but then he throws a celebration.

Elisha takes 2 oxen, butchers them, then has a gigantic cookout.  I love barbecuing on a grill or over an open flame!  That is what he does.  He cooks the beef and throws a celebration to mark the day he answered the call and entered into ministry.

Whenever a man enters ministry – it is a thing to be commended and celebrated.  I hope that when ordination events are held at your church that you do everything possible to be there and to participate because it is a big deal.

  • It is a big deal to God because a man has willingly answered the call to vocational ministry.
  • It is a big deal to family because a son and a husband is entering into the ministry.
  • It is a big deal for the church because they are ordaining and commissioning a man to the gospel ministry.

It is hard to imagine, but Elisha went on to do even greater things than Elijah. (2 Kings 2:9). It all began when a man answered a call to ministry.  It was recognized by all around him and a feast to mark the special occasion was celebrated by all.

We may have cake and a chicken dinner today.  Whatever is used to mark the occasion – know that it is an occasion worthy of respect, honor, and recognition.

 

 

 

Talking But Not Communicating

Talking But Not Communicating

“A Maine potato farmer and a Texas rancher were engaged in conversation at a political rally. The man from the Lone Star State asked, “How much land do you tend?”

“About a hundred acres.”

“I farm about six thousand myself.”

The man from Maine was not overly impressed, so the Texan continued, “There’s a much bigger ranch down near San Antone. To give you an idea of its size, the owner can start off in the morning in his car, and he ain’t barely crossed his place by noon.” “I had a car like that myself once” the man from Maine said.” (-1000)

While this is very funny, sometimes we interact with others in much the same way.  We talk, the other person says something, we speak again.  Who is listening?  How is it that words are said and others (and ourselves) do not hear?

Most of us struggle to some degree with the skill of listening.  Some are better at listening than others but all of us should grow in this area.

Hearing is more than our ears tingling with soundwaves.  Hearing is more than “I need a hearing aid” or “I need to clean the wax out of my ears.”  Hearing is when words and sounds are heard in the ear.  Listening is the processing, and understanding of what is being said.

Some people are so preoccupied in mind they do not “hear.”  Others are so distracted or defensive that they are not listening to what they are hearing or what is being said.

Here are several ideas to help become a better communicator.

  • Stop Everything. Ecclesiastes 5:1 teaches: “Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil.”

Please notice how Solomon in His wisdom encouraged “hearing” by stopping other movements.  Turning off the TV and radio, removing the cellphone from your face, and looking the person in the eye is a great way to focus.  In conversation – focus!

  • Value Words. In Matthew 13:17 Jesus says, “For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.”

Because the disciples had faith in Jesus, they could “hear” and “understand” His words.  Many people in the years before Jesus had hoped to “Hear” and “Listen” to the Messiah, but were not able to. They died before He was born in the Flesh.

Jesus is instructing his disciples to cherish the words they are hearing.  Our relationships would take on new meaning if we valued the words of those who are talking to us.

  • Slow Down. James 1:19-20 directs us: “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.”

Being quick to speak and fast to become angry does not help in communication.  In fact, these are big hindrances to healthy communication.  Be fast to say nothing, quick to listen and understand, and slow to react to what is being said to you.  Each of us have witnessed times when a person speaks “off topic” answers in a wrong way, or even says things that are untrue and things they regret later because they did not slow down to understand first.

Determine today that with the grace of God you will be a better communicator to be able to listen, talk and have real communication take place.

 

 

 

 

A Godly Mothers Care

A Godly Mothers Care

Thank the Lord for every mother who has fulfilled her God-ordained role to nurture, cherish, and guide her children.  Mothers have the greatest influence on the next generation and an underestimated impact on society as a whole.  One person accurately said: “The hand who rocks the cradle rules the world.”  Mothers have such an important part in the direction and development of the world because of their commitment and sacrifices they make for their children.

Perhaps an unusual reference to cite for Mother’s Day, but please note Proverbs 29:15, “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.”

Why would a child be left to himself?  Perhaps “babysat” by Disney or a TV program?  Perhaps dropped off on the lap of other people for convenience reasons?  Perhaps not much discipline due to lack of involvement?  Two people can be in the same house or even the same room and not have interaction. It is a tragedy. This can potentially cause shame later in the life of a mother.

Reading this verse teaches me that time and attention are two motherly needs every small child has.  Every mother would do well to include her child in her life.

“From the ages of 1-4 a child will learn more than they will learn for the rest of their life.”  That is an amazing statement that I heard at an educator’s conference years ago.  Children under 4 learn several key factors for life including: coping skills, how to react or respond, obedience, consequences, discipline, value, purpose, peace, contentment, care, tone of voice, attitude, friendliness, appropriateness, emotional control, and how to share, care, and demonstrate true love.  Much more could be listed.  The point is – the disposition, deportment, and direction of a life is mostly aligned in the youngest years of the human life.

What mom does with those years are of utmost importance.

Here are several ways Godly mothers impact the most formidable years of a young life, from the perspective of talking to a person, once a child and now a grown adult.

Notice Mom’s Care:

  • Mom carried you in her body to delivery.
  • As an infant she nursed you, feeding you many times in the day and night.
  • Mom changed your diaper, changed your diaper, and changed it again.  Every day and night.
  • Mom cared for you, running you to the doctor, checking your temperature, and making sure that you had the finest food she could get.
  • At age 2 your crawling became a stand (against chairs and tables) and then the first few steps came.
  • Mom cheered you on as you began to run around the house.  Then came climbing.  Anything that could be touched became a joyful obstacle course for climbing.

It is funny that after cheering our toddlers on to stand, walk, and run, that as they get older, we say: “sit down!” or “stop running!”

  • She sang songs about Jesus and lullabies that encouraged sleep as she cuddled up with you.
  • She read books and Bible stories to you, praying all the time for you to love Jesus.
  • From ages 1- 4 she did everything with you like walking the mall, and shopping for clothes (because much of her clothes were not fitting right after you came along.)
  • When mom was sick, she took you with her to her doctor visits.
  • She showed you how to shop for food at the grocery store, rolling you up and down each aisle as people commented on how “cute” you were.
  • She told you about her “secret” plans to surprise daddy with a birthday gift or a party.
  • She included you in every car ride, carefully buckling you in and making sure you were safe and comfortable.
  • Mom took you to the park to run and play.
  • She bundled you up in the winter, and made sure you stayed cool in the hot summer.
  • She transported you to church where she learned about God, sang to the Lord, and grew in her Christian life and motherly calling.  You enjoyed the nursery and learned how to trust God’s people by your mom’s example.
  • As she cleaned, you learned about vacuuming, dusting,  and how “Everything has it’s place.”  She even let you let you fold the wash rags while she folded laundry to make you feel important.
  • When mom cooked, you were right there watching and learning about food preparation.  She even let you help “stir stuff up!”
  • From ages 1 to 4, mom was with you almost every moment of every day.  Or better said – you were with mom.

Before Kindergarten you were with mom nearly 24/7.  And it was good.  She had her moments of being tired and discouraged.  She joyfully gave up sleep, money, entertainment, and made other sacrifices to invest everything she could in seeing you grow, develop, and become a person who could find and fulfill the will of God in life.  She included you in every part of her life.  No mother who has invested that much time and effort into a child has regretted it.  While there were moments of struggle, she would do it again.  The time and attention shared was worth it.

The developmental years of ages 1-4 are the most critical to our emotional, relational, and spiritual development.

  • At age 4 or 5 she sent you off to Kindergarten. It was more hard for her, but your thirst to learn academics needed to be met.  You were ready for Kindergarten.  Mom had been reading to you, training you by living life with you, and all those hours and days with mom paid off as you already knew how to interact with people, respect authority, and carry yourself with a good disposition.
  • Each year mom was there.  She helped you adjust to relationship issues, grow up emotionally, physical, relationally, and spiritually. The pains of childhood were lessened because of mom.

By the Way:  If your mother passed into eternity before you reached adulthood, thank the Lord for the time that you did have with her.  Be encouraged in the motherly figures that God placed in your life to influence you.  God had a plan, even if you do not yet understand.  This thought should motivate us to cherish each moment we have with our loved ones today.

We could list so much more, from teenage to college years and beyond.  You can take the idea and run with it for yourself.  The point is – a Godly mother shows consistent care for her children.  She invests time and attention. Especially in the most innocent and precious years of life.   A Godly mother’s care really is – her time and her attention.

So, Mom – thank you for not leaving me alone.  The time spent, the sacrifices made, and the loving care means the world to me.  A Godly mother does not leave her child on his own.  She takes care of those early years so the child will have a lifetime of success in loving Jesus.